salute


by ruth hill

 

I remember watching baseball as early as 3 years old with my grandfather.

Grampa had played in the Triple A’s, and thrived on teaching me baseball. At age 5, in 1955, I was with my grandmother in the kitchen, when Grandpa called me to the living room. “Watch this,” he said. They showed a rerun from 8 years ago, when a man with dark skin entered the field. My grandpa, who usually sat in his armchair, stood up for the rerun. He saluted, and turned to ask me to do the same. He was 6 foot 6 and I was in Kindergarten, and there we were standing side by side saluting the TV. Grandmother knew what it was about, so she joined us in the background with her dishtowel. It seemed they had watched this together many times, and decided I was now mature enough to be included.

“Highest paid!” he said, then sat down. “First Rookie of the Year! Most bases stolen!” Then I knew which player it was, because Grampa always jumped up and yelled every time that player stole a base. “Most Valuable Player! .310 batting average!” Grampa just kept going with a long list of statistics.

“But Grampa,” I said, “I thought you were rooting for the Yankees?” “Not this time,” he said. “This time I am rooting for the man, not the team. The one man who changed it all. Think about it! He is as brave as any soldier. He put up with so much abuse, even death threats.”

That was the year Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers won the World Series.

Jack Floyd August Hunt, born 1883, also liked to imitate Jimmy Stewart, Will Rogers, and Yogi Bera by inventing quips. “If you think you’re better than anyone else, it proves you’re not.” “If you can only stand by standing on someone else’s head, it’s not worth it. Stand on your own.” “They all want to be king of the dung heap; it’s still a dung heap.” “Build your own house; don’t build the bank.” “Differences do not deny dignity.”

My Grampa died 4 years later. When Obama took the victory stage on TV in 2008, I stood up alone and saluted his bravery, the way my white Grampa taught me.

As for Trump, Grandpa would have spit on the mound.

 

Created: January 28, 2017

Age: 67

State: United States/Canada

Ruth Hill was born and educated in upstate New York, and traveled North America extensively. She is a Certified Design Engineer, lifelong tutor, and enjoys spoken word. Over 300 of her poems have won awards or publication in the US, Canada, UK, Israel and Australia. She welcomes email at ruthhill@joiedevivregardens.ca.