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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Friday, February 22, 2013

Georgia Drizzle,Ty Cobb and My "Kid"

February 22, 2013  Quality Inn Room 201 Commerce,Georgia

Wonderful to just take a day to meander. No Interstates, no traffic, no set direction. Slept in --well, at least I did until 8--Bill as usual awake at 430 and up by 6....leisurely breakfast and then gave the desk clerk one of the rewards cards for 1000 points that Choice Priveleges provides for me to give to staff that are particularly wonderful. This young woman certainly has been a joy. Not that we've seen much of her nor spoken with her--we aren't that type of guest--but she gave us the upgrade instantly, extended the stay quickly at the same lower rate, had the presence of mind to extend the keys so that we wouldn't have to reprogram them today, gave us info on local attractions clearly and got us directions to the restaurants we wished to use and printed out the directions this morning to Ty Cobb's museum. One would think that this type of service would be de riguer but, unfortunately, it is not or at least it is not always provided with such graciousness and warmth. Such treatment makes a guest feel special and I appreciate that.

Armed with directions and having spoken to the lady at the museum ( Martha ) to make sure it was open we headed out in haze and drizzle to find out where Ty Cobb grew up and how his hometown was presenting him to the world. My father was born in 1903 and so was a kid growing up when Ty was making waves in the world of baseball. One of my favorite pictures of Dad is in his knickers and cleats with a Ty Cobb type baseball cap and a bat over his shoulder. When I was growing up and when Cobb died in 1961 Dad always said the Georgia Peach was a nasty, vicious man who may have been a great baseball player but wasn't much of a guy. This was said with disgust and an air of dismissal--prowess in the game didn't erase the smallness of the man for Dad. Not being a lover of stats Cobb's achievements don't impress me as much as they probably should. Still I wanted to learn more and perhaps find out that he wasn't as bad as Dad said. Well, so far as the museum is concerned --Ty's anger, nastiness with his cleats, brawls and inability to get along with his team-mates is not ignored but it is certainly glossed over in favor of praise for all his awards--including the fact that he was the first to be entered into the Baseball Hall of Fame. I hoped to find a bit more about the man and his private life rather than just the public superman. There was a bit but not much. His father married his mother when she was 12. She gave birth to Ty when she was 15 and then had two more kids. In the video one sentence : In 1920 two events changed his life--his contract was sold to the Detroit Tigers and his Dad was accidently shot in his own home.

Accidently shot in his own home!!!! He was climbing into his bedroom window and was blown away by two shotgun blasts DELIVERED BY HIS WIFE!!! Rumor has it --he was trying to catch her with a lover---she claimed that she thought he was an intruder. She was charged with murder and exonerated. That's it. None of this is even mentioned, except in very small print around the corner. The loss of his father who didn't approve of his baseball aspirations and the hazing veteran players subjected him to are given as the explanation for his anger and combativeness. He was devastated by the loss of his father , helped his mother through her legal problems but there is no mention of what their relationship was --either before or after the tragedy. Odd.

In passing it is mentioned that he married, had five children, lost two sons at early ages but not what those ages were. After taking the visitor to 1928 and Cobb's retirement, the remainder of the museum talks of his wealth --accrued through wise investments in GM and Coca Cola among other things. He used this wealth to build the first modern hospital in Royston and indeed one must go through the hospital waiting room to access the museum. He also helped support fellow players who, for whatever reason, were down on their luck after retiring. At his death he left 1/4 of his estate , valued at 11+ million dollars===about 98.1 million today, to establish an educational fund that still exists. It provides scholarships to Georgia students to be used in any college. There are two plaques listing the colleges to which these impoverished students have gone--from the most prestigious Ivy to the smallest State school. Impressive.

Still, I left feeling as though I knew more about him than I'd known before but feeling disappointed because I didn't know more about the MAN!  So, I bought a couple of books. In the preface to the new edition of his first biography on which he collaborated there was more and none of it was good. He was a miserable, nasty, win at all costs young man and a miserable, lonely, embittered old man --divorced twice, alienated from his children and his former teammates--alone. I think Dad was right--his baseball stature doesn't make up for it.

We spent a great deal of time chatting with Martha, about Vt, about gardening, about the weather in Ga and in Vt, about peanuts, about the rumors surrounding the scandal, and about education. She was a true joy. She told us where Cobb was buried and about a covered bridge that locals claim was used in the movie The Bridges of Madison County. Cobb's childhood home is gone and his birthplace in Homer, too. So off we went to the mausoleum that he had built for the Cobb family and down a decrepit muddy road to the Bridge.

Drove back in the drizzle to Commerce and Walmart to pick up a few things---detergent, fabric softener AND a new laundry bag. We have gremlins in the house and they have happily made away with our blue mesh bag, our canvas bag and at least two white mesh ones--so we parted with another buck and picked up a new white mesh. I hope they are having a grand time with the others but this one is going into the empty suitcase when I unpack in March.  Where I thought the others had gone.

As we pulled into the Walmart lot the phone rang and it was Betsy. Checking to see where we are and impressed that we'd covered so much territory and were in Georgia. You guys are moving fast--not really Bets but I guess we are a few miles away. Nothing much new at home--other than snow and more snow coming. Also Misty is crying more than usual but Bets is giving her lots of loving and she is sleeping with Bets in our bed. Unlike Bill, however, Bets does not get up with Misty at 430--as a matter of fact she throws her into the hall and closes the door--LOL

Bill also stopped at the first of many banks to pick up his first batch of nickels. Came back to the room, ate a small lunch and while Bill sorted his nickels I relaxed in the whirlpool with Ty. Around 430, Sonia Paul Davis, one of my students in Chelsea ( I left in "86 to have Bets and Sonia graduated in "87) called to say she was home and ready to meet us at Ruby Tuesday's. So we got ourselves together, drove across the highway and pulled into the parking lot at exactly the same time. Bill did not know Sonia and neither of us had met her husband, Andrew, whom she met and married while they were both in the Army. After they left the service they came to Georgia, which is Andrew's home and have two daughters --23 and 21. Andrew is a sweetheart--funny, pleasant and a good sport--tolerating the initial flurry of Chelsea catch up. Sonia and I and Bill to some extent--got through that pretty fast and the remainder of the evening covered a myriad of topics with much laughter and interest. When I said we'd been to Cobb's place, Andrew said --he was a nasty man--and we laughed --for indeed he was.

Three hours later, it was time to call it an evening. We parted with hugs, smiles, promises to see each other again soon and agreement that it had been a really fun night. I love seeing my " kids" , even if many years have gone by. It is particularly wonderful when they have had success and happiness.

Now that a day well spent has come to a close, it is time to catch Blue Bloods and think about tomorrow and our movement toward Florida. Until we meet again K and B

BTW, hope you didn't get too chilled walking with us down to the covered bridge--lol

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