Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hot memories. Not memories?

It just hit 100°F here. (About 38°C.) Definitely lie-down-in-the-shade-and-don’t-move hot. It made me think, as extreme Connecticut heat always does, of a Saturday in June of 1964, when my high school track team was competing in a State Championship meet. It was stunning in the sun, and I spent the entire meet lolling under a line of big maples along one side of the track, waiting for the two-mile, which was always the last non-relay of these events. I wore a floppy tennis hat for shade on sunny days, and when it was finally time for me to compete, my coach dunked it in our water bucket and plopped it back on my head so I’d stay cool out there on the griddle. The hottest race I’ve ever run.

Here’s the problem. I’ve been boring people with this story every really brutal day for 45 years, and it’s apparently not true. Today I looked up our historic temperatures on Saturdays (and eventually all the other days) in June, 1964. Not one even begins to approach 100°.  Just in case, I checked late May. Nope.

So what’s going on? I can see my teammates competing, and hear us all complaining about the heat. I can feel the relative coolness under the trees. I can feel that soaking, dripping hat being slapped onto my head. I can hear my coach, at the end of lap three, shouting for me to stop sitting and go. This is neither a dream nor a willful untruth. Could it simply be a grand unconscious exaggeration? Such a creepy thought.

But I know a number of people who sometimes interview old ballplayers about their careers. And my friends all tell me the same thing: these guys always get it wrong. It was Cleveland, not Detroit. It was 1947, not 1949. It was a double, not a triple. The pitcher was Joe Jones, not Bob Smith. Sometimes these old players had been dining out for years on the strength of their stories, and had embellished a bit. Sometimes they just got confused or forgot. But they always got it wrong. Well, I only wish I were an old big leaguer, but maybe I’ve joined at least part of that club.

As it turns out, I’ll be seeing some of my old teammates this weekend—most for the first time since the ’60s—and I’ll ask them. If they remember killer heat, we’re all nuts. If not, I’ll go hang out with the old ballplayers.

In the meantime, I’m telling you, and you can take it to the bank. Out there today? It’s really hot!

3 comments:

Martin Benedict O'Brien II said...

Just want you to know that I really, really enjoyed this post. Great!

Mark Alvarez said...

Thanks, Marty. Memory is a mystery.

Des said...

And why let facts spoil a story? The male memory is blessed with this facility for polishing the imperfect tale. I’ve always tended to ‘round things up’, so that if the temperature was 89f I might claim 99f. We couldn’t claim 100f here because it has never officially reached the magic century in these islands!