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OceanofPDF com last days of summer steve kluger


LastDaysofSummer
SteveKluger

OceanofPDF.com


Formyfather—
whoneverhadaherowhenheneededone
OceanofPDF.com


Contents
Cover
TitlePage
Dedication
Author’sNote

Prologue
1940
1941

1942
Epilogue

AbouttheAuthor
Praise
OtherBooksbySteveKluger
Copyright
AboutthePublisher
OceanofPDF.com


Author’sNote

Evenaftertenyears,LastDaysofSummerremainsTheBookThatAlmost
Wasn’t.From1990through1996,whenitwasonlyathirdofanovelandan
additionalsixty-pageoutline,itengenderedthekindofapathythatwould
havecompelledanybodywithcommonsensetojunkitonthespot:“Men’s
fictiondoesn’tsell.”“Boys’fictiondoesn’tsell.”“Coming-of-agedoesn’t
sell.”“WorldWarIIdoesn’tsell.”“Baseballdoesn’tsell.”Myformeragent,
usuallyachampionofmywork,foundthecharactersunlikableandthe
narrativestylethoroughlyunacceptable.“I’mgladyoufinallygotitoutof
yoursystem,”shecommented,afterI’dactuallyfinishedit.“Nowputitaway
andwriteanewbook.”Instead,Iluckedintoanewagent,andLastDaysof
Summerfoundahome.
OncethenovelhadmadeanunexpectedjumptoaYoungAdultaudience
andhadbecomeastapleinhighschools,Ifoundmyselftouringthecountry
andspeakingtovariousjuniorandseniorEnglishclasses.(“Ourteachertold
ustobringinthingsaboutWorldWarIIthatyoutalkaboutinthebook.So
somebodybroughtinanEthelMermanCDandwehadtolistentoit.Dude.
Whatwasupwithher??”)ThefirstthingtheyalwayswanttoknowiswhyI
chosesuchanunorthodoxwayoftellingthestory—andinexplainingmy
M.O.tothem,IsuddenlyrealizedI’dfinallyfoundmypeergroup.Whoelse
butaseventeen-year-oldwouldhaveunderstoodwhymychildhoodpassion
forreadingwasextinguishedbythetitlesthatwerethrownatmeinninth
grade?GreatExpectations?Yeah,right.NowayamIgoingtogetnear
anythingthatlongthatdoesn’thavetheHardyBoysinit.TheRedBadgeof
Courage?Dude!You’reacoward!Dealwithitandgohome!Othello?
ClearlywrittenononeoftheBard’sbadhairdays.Inreallifeitwouldhave
gonelikethis:“Hey,Des.Youcheatin’onme?”“No,Othello.”Boom.Endof
play.Onpage6.


ItwasonlywhileIwasstumblingthroughHackleySchool’slibrary,
desperatetofindanythingthatevenremotelylookedlikeithadbeenwritten
inEnglish,thatIdiscoveredBelKaufman’sUptheDownStaircase—and
realizedtherewereactuallywaystotellstoriesforgrown-upsthatdidn’t
requireanIQof900oradegreeinpsychologytofigureouthowagardenvarietynitwitgottobetheMoorofVenice.Kaufman’sstyle,andherobvious
delightinusingabroadpanoplyofnarrativevoicestotellhertale,iswhat
single-handedlygotmereadingagain—butthistimeonmyterms.Andher
influenceremainedevidentfifteenyearslaterwhenIbeganwritingnovelsof
myown.


Theotherthingkidspickuponthatadultsgenerallydon’tisthatLast
DaysofSummercouldn’tpossiblybeentirelyfictive.(“There’stoomuch
stuffinthereforthat.Howmuchofitreallyhappened?”)Andinanswering
theirquestionswithoutholdingback,Ibegantoappreciateforthefirsttime
whyI’dbeensodeterminedtostandbythisparticularnovelnomatterwhatit
took.
Joey’spredicamentisactuallybasedonmyfather’slifewhenhewasthe
sameage,inthesameera.Practicallyabandonedbymymalevolent
grandfatherDavidwhenhesuedfordivorceinordertomarryasocialite
namedBertha,myfatherandunclewereraisedalmostsingle-handedlybymy
grandmotherIdaandherbestfriendCarrie.ThoughmyUncleDickwasable
tofindotherpaternalsurrogatesandgoontobecomeaPulitzerPrize–
winningauthor,myfatherwasn’tsolucky:Hespenthisentirelifeattempting
topleasemygrandfather(whichwasalwaysapointlesswasteoftime).
Thoughanatural-bornengineer/architect,heignoredhisownleaningsand
insteadenrolledattheWhartonSchoolofBusinessattheUofPenn,atthe
insistenceofmygrandfather,whoexpectedhimtohelprunhistextile
manufacturingfirm.Myfathergraduatedthirdinhisclass(“Whyonlythird?”
wasmygrandfather’sretort)thedayaftermygrandfatherhadsoldthe
businessandretired.Hisonlycommentonmyfather’sdegree:“Thatandten
cents’llgetyouonthesubway.”
Asaresult,myfatherledadesperatelyunhappylife,survivingtwo
marriagesandcountlessfailedbusinesses.Ratherthangoinghisownway—
asmygenerationlearnedtodo—hecontinuedtopursueanycrumbsof
approvalhemightreceivefromhisdad.Sowhenmygrandfatherdiedin1989
(allbutcuttingmyfatheroutofthewill),myfatherdisintegrated,both
physicallyandmentally,havinglosttheonlybattlehe’deverbeeninterested
infighting,andhavingsacrificedhisownlifeintheprocess.Hediedsix
yearslater,terminallyillandincoherent.
MybrothersandIalwaysmanagedasemblanceofarelationshipwith
him,butittendedtobesomewhatstrainedandawkward.SoLastDaysof
Summerwasenvisionedasameansofimaginingthebrainyandfearlesskid
he’dstartedouttobe,andwhathislifecouldhavebeenifhe’dhadsomeone
tochampionhimwhenhewasyoung.Happily,I’dcompletedaroughdraftof
thebook’sfirstfortypagesafewyearsbeforemyfatherdiedandhadsentit
tohim;abouttwodayslater,hecalledmeonthephone,weepingwith
laughter.(Note:MybrothersandIallinheritedthescrewballsenseofhumor
fromourmotherandthewickedonefromourfather;thebusinessaboutJoey
makingupfataldiseasesforhimselfandthenkillingoffvariousmembersof
Charlie’sfamilyjusttogethisaddressfromtheBureauofVitalStatisticswas
rightupmyfather’salley.)WhenIpointedoutthat“Joey’ssupposedtobe
youwhenyouwereakid,”heimmediatelycounteredwith,“No,pal.Joeyis


youwhenyouwereakid.”Heevidentlyhadn’tforgottenmynumerous
adolescentstunts,suchascrashingtheTonyAwardswhenIwasfifteenby
tellingthestagedoormanattheShubertTheatrethatIwasCarolChanning’s
sonandthat“mymomforgottoleavemyticketattheboxoffice.”(Iwas
countingonthefactthathewasn’tallowedtoleavehispostandthathe’d
havenochoicebuttopointmeinthedirectionofMom’sdressingroom.I
wasrightonbothhunches—whichishowIwoundupwatchingthe1968
Tonysfromthestage-rightwingwithAngelaLansburyandPeterUstinov.)So
itwasmyfatherwhomademeunderstandforthefirsttimethatJoey
MargoliswasactuallyaperfectlybalancedamalgamofAlanC.Klugerand
hiseldestson.Whyhadn’tIrealizedthatwhileIwaswritingthebook?He
insistedonknowinghowIintendedtherestofthestorytoread,sowe
discusseditatlengthandhemadeafewsuggestionsthatIactually
incorporatedintothenovel.Itwasoneofthelastlucidconversationswehad
—andIcouldn’thavedreamedupabetterone.
Whenmyfatherdiedin1995,Ispentmuchofthenextfifteenmonths
thinkingaboutthelifehemighthavehad.SoinSeptemberof’96,Iwent
backtoworkonthebookfornootherreasonthantodedicateittohim.Ifit
sold,terrific.Ifitdidn’t,sowhat?
Butitdid.
Thanks,Dad.
STEVEKLUGER
April2008,SantaMonica,California
OceanofPDF.com


Prologue


THEWHITEHOUSE
November26,1936
DearJoseph:
Pleaseallowmetoexpressmydeepestgratitudeforthedollaryou
contributedtomycampaign.AlthoughIhaveindeedconsideredlowering
thevotingageasyousuggest,IamafraidIwouldhavetodrawthelineat
eighteen.Nineisoutofthequestion.Iwishitweren’t.Inanyevent,Iam
touchedbyyoursupport.
Mrs.Rooseveltjoinsmeinthankingyouforyourkindwords.Ihope
thatthenextfouryearswilljustifyyourcontinuedfaithinus.
Yoursverytruly,

FranklinD.Roosevelt
It’sfunnyhowtheyearshavechangedeverythingaboutBrooklyn
geography.TimewaswhenuptownmeantNathan’s—ifyouwereinthemood
foranorangepop,aneurotichotdog,andsomefront-linescuttlebuttfroma
lonesomeGI—ortheoldParamount,whereVeronicaLakeoncesoldwar
bondsandkisses,andnearlyfinancedtheentireNormandyinvasionherself.
ThebusinessdistrictwasreallytheCitizen-Newsbuilding,whereifyouhung
aroundlongenoughandpracticedyoureavesdroppingyoumightlearnthat
Bataanwasn’tjustthenameofamovie;anddowntown,ofcourse,was
Flatbush,whereontheFourthofJulythe433rdInfantrymarchedfromGrand
ArmyPlazatoAnziowithonlyanIrvingBerlincadencepointingtheminthe
rightdirection.

SluggerBanksWhipsIowaCity5–0
SPRINGFIELD,ILL.,May14—Nineteen-year-oldrookiesensationCharlie
BankspropelledtheSpringfieldBluejacketstoaneasywinoverIowa
Cityhere,withasolohaymakerinthesecondinningandaslammeratthe
bottomoftheeighth.Thevolatilethirdbasemanhasbecomesomethingof
alocallegendsinceearlyApril,whenhefailedtomakethesquadcut


duringtryoutsbutwasissuedauniformregardlessafterrefusingtogetoff
theteambus.
BrooklyniswhereIgrewup.It’swhereIlearnedwhatastormtrooper
was,whataneggcreamwas,what“flakattack”meant,andwhatrubbers
wereusedforoutsideofkeepingyourfeetdry.It’swhereIdiscoveredthetrue
marketvalueofasteelieversusanaggieandthequeasysoundsyourstomach
madewheneveryousawahundredthousandhobnailbootsgoose-stepping
throughthePathéNews.It’swhereanykidcouldtellyouthat“CaptainColin
Kellyshotatigerinthebelly,thenhesenttheshipHarunatothebottomof
thesea”butnotknowthecapitalofMichigan.It’swherethenearestyouwere
likelytogettoheavenwassmellingthepopcornatLunaPark,orseeinga
real-lifeDauntlessdive-bomber—bluewithwhitetrim—takingofffromthe
NavyYard,orfallingasleepwithyourblackoutcurtainsdrawntightwhile
GlennMillerplayed“MoonlightSerenade”overtheradio,livefromthestill
watersoftheGlenIslandCasino(“meccaofmusicformoderns”).Brooklyn
isalsowhereIlearnedthatIwasakike,thatmysecond-to-best-friendwasa
Nip,andthatmyfatherwasnevercomingbackhome.
“NanaBert,ismyDadthere?”
“He’sbusy,dear.We’regoingtoMonteCarlo,butwithallthose
Germans,youcan’tgetareservation.Callhimaftertheeighteenth.”

BanksDownedbyFoodPoisoning;
Goes5-For-6
JOPLIN,MO.,June24—TheRacineRocketlosthisbidfor38
consecutivehitsthisafternoonwhenanattackoffoodpoisoningbrought
aboutbyatinoftaintedanchoviescausedhimtogroundintoadouble
playagainstJoplinintheeleventhinningafterhavinghitsafelyinhisfirst
fiveat-bats.
“Ithoughttheyweresardines,”mumbledasheepishBanksashewas
carriedoffthefieldwithafeverof104.Askedwherehehadlearnedsuch
stamina,thenineteen-year-oldthird-sackerretorted,“Inthe3C’s
[CivilianConservationCorps].Unlessyouweredead,youkeptgoing.”
Afterthedivorce,mymothermovedusfromalargelyHasidic
communityinWilliamsburgtoanoldbrownstoneatthecornerofBedford
AvenueandMontgomeryStreet,wherethemailboxesinthevestibule
presagedthespecialfabricoutofwhichmyadolescencewastobewoven.


“Corelli.Verrastro.Fiore.Bierman.DiCicco.Fusaro.Delvecchi.Margolis.”
ThistoldmeallIneededtoknow.Ofcourse,asthenewlyappointedresident
Jew,Icouldn’tbeentirelycertainwhatrecreationalactivitiesthe
neighborhoodwaswillingtooffer,butIhadaprettydecenthunchthat
bleedingwasamongthem.NotthatmymomormyAuntCarriedidmuchto
promotemycause:theyopenlylitShaboscandlesonSanGennaroDay,
walkedtoshulthroughtheOurLadyofPompeiistreetfestival,andhelped
feedtheItalian-AmericanWarWidowswithatrayofstuffeddermaand
potatoknishes.Thedayweunpacked,IfiguredconservativelythatIhada
weeklefttolive;onelookatLennyBiermanandIparedtheestimatebyhalf.
ButIwasdeterminedtofitin.
“Getit,Margolis?Sheenieswalkonthatsideofthestreet.”
*SPLAT!*

BanksClipsAssociation’sTopTomato
CHICAGO,ILL.,December18—Onaballotthatsurprisedabsolutelyno
one,theMidwesternAssociationtodayunanimouslyvotedCharlesBanks
the1937HenryChadwickAward,markingonlythesecondtimeinthe
league’s61-yearhistorythatthehonorhasgonetoarookie.(TurkeyMike
Donlin,in1898,wasthefirst.)Twenty-year-oldBankswasnotifiedvia
telegraphathishomeinRacine,Wisconsin,andpurportedlywiredback,
“WhoinHellisHenryChadwick?”SpringfieldBluejacketsofficialshave
turneddownseverallucrativeoffersforpurchaseoftherookie’scontract,
includingabidfromtheBrooklynDodgerswhichpurportedlyinvolved
the
BythetimeIturnedtwelve,theDodgersmademevomit.Therewasa
popularmisconceptionfloatingabouttheboroughthattheywerelovable
losers;formymoney,onemightjustaseasilyhavedispensedwiththe
adjectivealtogetheranddevelopedamuchclearerrotogravureofthetruth.
Theyhadneitherbrainsnorbreeding—forgivableshortcomingsinandof
themselvesifperhapstheyhadownedevenoneshredoftalent.Butthey
didn’thavethateither.WhattheyhadwasahartebeestatfirstnamedDolph
Camilli,ahop-o’-my-thumbatshorttheychristenedPeeWeeandthoughtit
cunning,andsomethingatthirdbasecalledCookieLavagetto.Nobodyhad
theballstoaskwhy.ThentherewasCraigNakamura’sidol,LeoDurocher,
whoplainlybelongedbehindbars—ataprecincthouseorananimal
sanctuary,theneedtodistinguishwaspurelymootandpredicatedsolelyupon
spaceavailability.Allthingsconsidered—andgiventhewaymyluckwas


running—aboutthelastthingIneededwasabedroomwindowthat
overlookedEbbetsField.Andtheonlyhurdy-gurdyinFlatbush.
LeaveusgorootfortheDodgers,Rodgers,
They’replayingballunderlights.
Leaveuscutoutallthejukejernts,Rodgers,
ThemDodgersismygallantknights.
Ofcourse,itneverwouldhaveoccurredtomethatmyfather’slifelong
passionforthedamnedteammighthavehadsomethingtodowithmyutter
loathingforthem;this,afterall,was1940,andwehadn’theardaboutpop
psychologyinthosedays.TheonlythingIknewforsurewasthatIwasn’t
goingtobefindinganyheroesinBrooklyn.SoIlookedwhereIcould—but
theresultswerekindofdisappointing.

THEWHITEHOUSE
February14,1940
DearJoseph:
PresidentRoosevelthasaskedmetorespondtoyourmostrecent
letter,andtoassureyouthathe,too,iskeepinganeyeonDenmark.No
doubtyouwillunderstandthatitisfartooprematuretoconsiderarming
theRoyalAirForceasyousuggest,althoughyourremindersrelativeto
theLusitaniaaresoberingindeed.Inanyevent,IamsurethePresident
willpassyourrecommendationsontoNevilleChamberlainathisearliest
convenience.
Sincerely,
StephenT.Early
PressSecretary

April9,1940.Ihavedecidedtoturntoalifeofcrime.Mydadwas
supposedtotakemetoConeyIslandbuthenevercalledback,mylefteyeis
black-and-blueagain,theJapanesesaythey’reonlyborrowingNanking
temporarilybutnobodybelievesthem,andHitlerisbeginningtoscarethe
holyheckoutofme.
IamlurkingbehindapostintheMetropolitanAvenuesubwaystationon
theCanarsieLine,casingmyfirstheist:thecherryswizzlejaratthe


newsstandrunbythiscrustyoldblindguywithatincupandahalf-dead
beagle.Sentimentwouldcompelmetoadmitinretrospectthathewasreallya
kindlyoldcurmudgeon—wereitnotforthefactthatintruthhewasthe
meanestbastardwhoeverlived.“Dirtymocky”wasnotwithouttherealmof
hisconsiderableprosaism;“Haveaniceday”clearlywas.Therefore,Ihave
littlecompunctionaboutmovinginonthekioskandmakingabigdealoutof
buyingTheBrooklynEagle—strictlyasadiversionarytactictothrowtheold
fartoffthescent—whilemyleftarmsnakesitswaytowardtheswizzleshelf.
“Paper.”
“Twocents.Getouttahere.”Hotdamn!Thisisgunnawork!AsIcovertly
wrapmyfingersaroundthesacredlicorice,atrainhurtlesthroughthestation
and,seeingnorealadvantagetostopping,continuesonitswaytoMontrose,
Morgan,DeKalb,andHell.Eventuallytheplatformisonceagainshroudedin
ersatzsilence.Brokenshortly.
“Andgetyourfuckin’handouttathejar.”
Needlesstosay,I’venevergonenearacherryswizzlesince.
Butthenewspaperwasanotherstory.


GiantsSignTemperamentalThirdSacker
BYBERTHOCHMAN
SpecialWirelessfromThePoloGrounds
NEWYORK,Tues.,April9—TheNewYorkGiantstodayannouncedthat
theyhavepurchasedthecontractofthirdbasemanCharlieBanksfromthe
SpringfieldBluejackets(MidwesternAssoc.),puttinganendtoabidding
warthat,bylatelastnight,includedtheChicagoCubs,theWashington
Senators,theSt.LouisCardinals,andtheBostonBees.
Banks,22andanativeofWisconsin,hasbeenafavoritetopicin
sportingpagesacrossthecountryeversincehisarrivalinSpringfield
threeyearsago,bothforhissustainedbattingaverageof.369andfora
notoriousfreedomwithhisfists“wheneveranybodygivesmeliporsuch
othergoodreasons.”Althoughhehasmonogrammedvirtuallyevery
minorleaguebattingtitlewiththeinitials“C.B.”andhasmostrecently
beenawardedtheA.G.SpauldingCup,perhapsthegreatesttestamentto
hisabilitiescamelatelastsummerfromnolessapersonagethanformer
NewYorkgovernorFranklinDelanoRoosevelt,whocalledtherighthander“America’sSecretArsenal.”WheninformedofthePresident’s
comments,rookieBanksreplied,“ThePresidentofwhat?”
Morerealisticallytoutingthebusheras“thenewRogerBresnahan,”
GiantsmanagerBillTerryspeculatesthatBankswillbeworkedintothe
lineupduringtomorrow’sopeneratthePoloGrounds,eventuallysplitting
thirdbasewithcurrentsackerMelOttwho,onhearingthenews,
reportedlygroaned,“Ican’twait.”
Inarelatedstory,theBrooklynDodgersdeniedthattheyhad
expressedanyinterestinacquiringtherookiefirst,despiteearlierreports
thatindicatedtheyweredeterminedtokeeptheGiantsfromgettingtheir
OceanofPDF.com


1940


JuvenileDetentionCenterofthe
BoroughofBrooklyn
To:Capt.E.LaFontaine
From:Sgt.F.Kahane
Subject:TheMargolisKid
1.Hewon’teatdinner.Sayshewantsbrisketonryebread.Wetriedto
foolhimwithroastlamb,onlyitdidn’twork.
2.Claimstobesufferingfromavarietyofailmentsthatmandatehis
immediaterelease.Theseincludeappendicitis,heartattack,
diphtheria,polioandgonorrhoea(whichhepronouncedcorrectly).
Actually,wethinkhehasaslightfever—thishasbeenregulated
withBayeraspirinandorangejuice.
3.Stillhasn’tidentifiedtheboyswhoattackedhim,andwon’teven
admitthatithappened.Sayshewasrunoverbyavegetabletruck.
Judgingbytheseverityofthebeating,we’reprettysurethe
Biermanbratwasinvolved,butwehavenowayofcorroborating
withoutthekid’shelp.
4.Themotherandtheauntwerenotifiedandhavebeenwaitingin
receptionsince3:30thisafternoon.Webelieveitwouldbe
inadvisabletoletthemseeJosephforseveraldays,oratleastuntil
hisfaciallacerationshavehealedsomewhat.Bothareapparently
unawareoftherepeatedassaultsontheboy;onsuchoccasions,he’s
toldthemthathefelloffhisbicycle.Note:Mrs.Gettinger(theaunt)
hasnowdeterminedthereligiousaffiliationsofallreceiving
personnelandwillonlyspeaktoSgt.Greenberg.
5.Wehavetelephonedthefatherseveraltimesathisresidencein
Manhattan.Thehousekeeperadvisedthatshehadgivenhimthe
message,butasyetwehavenotheardfromhim.
6.Weaskedthekidifhewantedtotelluswhyhedidwhathedid,
andwereinformed,“Youbullscan’tkeepmeinthiscreepjoint
forever.Notunlessyouwantyourlampsputout.”Consideringthat
he’sonlytwelve,wefeltitpolitetotreatthethreatwiththesame
sortofrespectit’saccordedinthemovies;assuch,Lt.Frierson
(whosoundsmorelikeEdwardG.Robinsonthananyoneelseon
staff)warnedhim,“Yeah?Well,ifyoudon’tstartsinging,you’re
goinguptheriver.”Itdidn’twork.Allhedidwasbribeuswiththe
MalteseFalcon.
7.We’vecontactedDonWestoninPsychology,who’sinterviewing


thekidinthemorning.Inthemeantime,I’dbecarefulabout
drinkingthewater.

IMustNotPeeintheReservoir
BYJOEYMARGOLIS
Imustnotpeeinthereservoir.
Imustnotpeeinthereservoir.
Imustnotpeeinthereservoir.
Imustnotpeeinthereservoir.
Imustnotpeeinthereservoir.
Imustnotpeeinthereservoir.
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Imustnotpeeinthereservoir.
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Imustnotpeeinthereservoir.
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Imustnotpeeinthereservoir.
Imustnotpeeinthereservoir.
Imustnotpeeinthereservoir.
ImustnotsupportFascistSpain.
Imustnotpeeinthereservoir.
Imustnotpeeinthereservoir.

INTERVIEWER:DonaldM.Weston,Ph.D.
SUBJECT:JosephCharlesMargolis
Q:Whathappenedtoyourface?
A:JackDempseyknockedmeoutinthreerounds.Itwasinallthe
newspapers.
Q:Youdon’ttrustme,doyou?
A:Nope.
Q:Youwantsomecandy?
A:No.
Q:Youwantadrinkofwater?
A:No.
Q:Youwantacigarette?
A:I’mtwelve.Almost.OnJune8th.
Q:Lotsofkidsyouragesmokecigarettes.


A:Notme.Howaboutabrandyinstead?
Q:Idon’thaveany.
A:Thatfigures.
Q:Doesyourmothersmoke?
A:No.Butshecandrive.
Q:Howaboutyourfather?
A:He’sanaviator.HebuilttheSpiritofSt.LouiswithLindberghandthe
CurtissRobinwithWrongWayCorrigan,andsometimeshetakesme
flyingoverthe—
Q:Yourfatherownsatextileplant.
A:Right.Iforgot.
Q:Doyoulikeyourfather?
A:Yes.
Q:Why?
A:Don’tknow.
Q:Howcomehewouldn’thavelunchwithyou?
A:Ithinkhehadtotalktosomepeopleaboutnyloninhisoffice.AndNana
Bertalwayssayshe’snotthereathome.
Q:Who’sNanaBert?
A:Hiswife.TheyliveonFifthAvenue.
Q:Doesthatbotheryou?
A:Notmuch,Iguess.
Q:Whatdidyoudowhentheytoldyouhewasn’tcoming?
A:Iorderedashrimpcocktailandasteak.Themaitred’isKennyandhe
callsmeboychik.HewenttotheyeshivawithmyDad.Andhealways
letsmesaythingslike“Putitonmytab.”
Q:Thenyouurinatedinthereservoir?
A:Notyet.FirstIclippedagoldfishfromthefiveanddime.Iateit.
Q:Howmuchofthisareyoumakingup?
A:Allofit.Howcome?
Q:Joey,doyouthinkmaybeyougotintotroublesoyou’dgetcaughtand
they’dcallyourfather?
A:Youmeannegativeattention?
Q:Uh—yes.
A:Wouldn’twork.Eventhepolicecouldn’tgethimtocomeover.
Q:Youdon’tthinkso?
A:Nope.Nylon.Buthe’stakingmetotheWorld’sFair.Hepromised.
Q:Whathappenedtoyourface?
A:Bankholdup.IwanttobelikeJimmyCagneyinEachDawnIDie.“Stay
outofmyway,copper.”
Q:Doyoureally?
A:No,butstufflikethatscarestheheckoutofyouguys.


Q:Whataboutyourmother?
A:Sheboilsmyunderpants.
Q:Ibegyourpardon?
A:Youheardme.Onthestove.AuntCarriealmostateasockonce.
Q:Doyoulikeher?
A:AuntCarrie?
Q:Yourmother.
A:Iloveher.Alot.
Q:Shesaysyoudon’tgetalongtoowellatschool.
A:That’sbecauseMrs.Hickshadanervousbreakdown.Igaveittoherby
accident.
Q:How?
A:IfoundthesacrificeflyruleintheBillofRights.Shedidn’tbelieveme,
butIprovedit.Thentheytookhertothehospital.
Q:DoyoumindifIshowyousomepictures?
A:No.

Q:Allright.Nowwhatdoyousee?
A:ARorschachblot.
Q:Joey—
A:Okay,okay.CenterfieldatthePoloGrounds.Thisisthebleachersand
that’stheballthatCharlieBankshitintothemonApril10th.He’sthe
onlyonewhoeverdidthat.EvenDiMaggiointhe’36Seriescouldn’t.
OnlyCharlie.
Q:Yousoundprettyproud.
A:Iam.
Q:Whathappenedtoyourface?
A:Myheadgotcaughtinamechanicalricepicker.
Q:Takealookatthisone.Whatdoyousee?


A:Thirdbase.That’swhereCharlielives.Overhereisrightfield,andthisis
theplate.YouknowwhathappenedthereonApril19th?
Q:CharlieBankshitthreehomeruns.
A:Howdidyouknowthat?
Q:Doesn’teverybody?
A:NotinBrooklyn.IhateBrooklyn.
Q:Idon’tblameyou.
A:Youdon’t?
Q:Whocutyouuplikethat?WasitLennyBierman?
A:Hecalledmeakikefirst.ItoldhimCharlieBankswasmybestfriend,but
hedidn’tbelieveme.
Q:Howcome?
A:Iwaslying.
Q:Let’stryanotherone.

Q:Okay,whatdoyousee?
A:Whatdoyousee?
Q:Uh—Ithinkit’sthePoloGroundsagain.Right?
A:Areyouhumoringme?
Q:No.Why?
A:Becauseit’sasidewaysmapofWisconsin.ThisisRacinewherehewas
born.
Q:CharlieBanks?
A:Youbet.
Q:Itwasn’tjustBierman,wasit?Joey?
A:No.Delvecchitoo.
Q:Whatareyougoingtodoaboutit?
A:Don’tknowyet.
Mr.CharlesBanks,NYGiant
c/oThirdBase
ThePoloGrounds
CoogansBluff,NY
DearMr.Banks,


Iama12yearoldboyandIamdyingofanincurabledisease.Itisa
horribleone.Ihavehadtospendmostofmylifeinhospitalsandinbed
withhighfeversandverywhiteskin.ThisisbecauseIhavenomore
corpusles,whichyoumayrememberiswhatprovidesyouwith
antibodies.Iamalsoparalized.SometimesIamrackedbysomuchpain
thatIcryoutinthenightandsaythingslike“DearGod.DearGod.”
ThereasonIamwritingisbecauseIreadinamagazeneoncewhere
BabeRuthvisitedadyingboyinahospital,andalthoughheprovidedhim
withanautographwhichhehadaskedfor,whattheboyreallywanted
wasfortheBabetohitoneoutforhim.Wellhedid,andtheLukemia
wentawaylikethat.Youdonothavetocomeandvisitme,butIwould
appreciateitifyouwouldhitoneout.Allyouhavetodoispointtoleft
fieldorwherevermakesyoucomfortableandthensay“Thisisformy
friendJoeyMargolis”(ontheradioifpossible)andthenswing.
IhopeyoucandothissoonbecauseIdon’tthinkIwillbearound
muchlonger.
Yourfriend,
JoeyMargolis

Mr.JosephMargolis
236MontgomeryStreet
Brooklyn,NewYork
DearFriend:
Manythanksforyourletterandthekindwordscontainedtherein.I
amenclosingmypicturewiththeautographyourequested.
Keeponslugging.
Bestwishes,
CharlesBanks

Mr.CharlesBanks,NYGiant
c/oThirdBase
ThePoloGrounds
CoogansBluff,NY
DearMr.Banks,
Iama12yearoldboyandIamblind.Thisisaterriblething.ButI


wasnotalwaysblind.IntheolddaysIusedtobeabletoswiminthe
creekandbuildlogcabinsandgreeteachdaylikeitwasanewadventure,
thewayboyshavedonesincethedawnoftime.Thenonedaymyeyes
startedtofillupwithmucusandthesunshinewentawayforever.
ThereasonIamwritingisbecauseIreadinthismagazenewhereLou
Gehrigoncevisitedthisblindboyinahospitalandpromisedhewouldhit
oneoutforhim.Andwhenhedid,thatboy(whohadbeenlisteningon
theradio)washeardtocryout“Icansee!Icansee!”
Mr.Banks,itwoulddomealotofgoodifyouwouldhitoneoutfor
methewayIronHorsedidthatothertime.Iwouldnotevenaskyouto
makeaspecialtriptotheplateforit.Youcanpickoneyouweregoingto
hitoutanywayandjustsayaheadoftime(ontheradio)“Thisisformy
friendJoeyMargolis.”
Imuststopwritingnow.Itissoveryverydark.
Thankyou.
Yourfriend,
JoeyMargolis

Mr.JosephMargolis
236MontgomeryStreet
Brooklyn,NewYork
DearFriend:
Manythanksforyourletterandthekindwordscontainedtherein.I
amenclosingmypicturewiththeautographyourequested.
Keeponslugging.
Bestwishes,
CharlesBanks
INTERVIEWER:DonaldM.Weston,Ph.D.
SUBJECT:JosephCharlesMargolis
Q:Youdidn’tthinkitwasgoingtowork,didyou?
A:Iwasjustwarmingup.Thisisatoughone.IfIonlyknewwherehelived.
Q:Isthatanewcutoveryoureye?
A:Don’tremember.
Q:Howdidithappen?
A:Ifellinfrontofthe“A”train.Canwelookatsomemorebaseball


pictures?
Q:Sure.

Q:Whatdoyousee?
A:Amidgetlyingonhisbackwithahard-on.
Q:Wheredidyoulearntotalklikethat?
A:“TheStreet,see?That’swhereIgrewup.TheStreet.Nowthey’regunna
makemeswingforit.”Guesswhat?IliveupstairsfromtheGreen
Hornet.HethinksI’mtheShadow.Wesendmessagesincodeupand
downthefireescapeonheat-resistantstringlikeinGangbusters.
Q:Howcome?
A:Nazistakenoprisoners.
Q:Thatsoundsprettyserious.
A:Youbetitis.KnowthatoldladywhoownstheclockstoreonSullivan
Street?
Q:Mrs.Aubaugh?
A:Don’tturnyourbackonher.She’sasaboteur.
Q:Shehasawoodenleg!
A:That’swhereshekeepsthegrenades.Itriedtosendawarningtothe
Hornet,butthestringbrokeanditfellthroughthebarsontoaGerman
courier.Nowthey’rewisetous.
Q:Tellmeabouttheinkblot.
A:It’stheflagpole.
Q:Where?
A:OvertheGiantsclubhouseindeepcenter.MeandCharliealwaysstand
nexttoeachotherwithourhatsoverourheartswhentheyplayThe
BaseballSong.
Q:“TakeMeOuttotheBallgame”?
A:“OSayCanYouSee.”
Q:Where’syourfather?
A:Overthere.Inthestands.
Q:IsherootingfortheGiants?
A:ForBrooklyn.
Q:Doesthatbotheryou?
A:OnlywhenhebringsNanaBert.


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