The Gospel Truth

A 24-Hour Memoir Part I | June 6, 2014

I have long been a fan of Jack Bauer or his alter ego actor Kiefer Sutherland who has passionately portrayed the hero over several years of his acting career.

While this post has nothing to do with 24’s recent reprise, I wanted to borrow its format to capture the 24 best moments of my life to date.

Some of which follows were single events while many were more symbolic of a much larger body of  special memories that have comprised my life since my 1943 birth.

1) I once told a writer that my first conscious memory was the evening of the 1948 presidential election when my father was so upset late at night, listening to the results of Harry S Truman’s upset victory over Republican Thomas Dewey   I remember vividly my was standing in my parents’ bedroom.  The lights were out but I could still see the light of the little white table radio that reflected my father’s dissatisfied face.  Six years later my dad took me to my first ball game on May 29, 1954. Pee Wee Reese, my favorite player hit a home run at the Polo Grounds in the top of the ninth that won the game 4-2. Willie Mays and Gil Hodges also hit long balls.

2) I spent many summers with my maiden aunt, Marie-Louise, whom I had christened “Mal.” I especially remember teaching her about the Brooklyn Dodgers and Roy Campanella their black catcher who quickly became her favorite player. We also watched a lot of wrestling. We both loved Antonio Rocca, allegedly from Argentina. What a great athlete he was.

3) My favorite memory of my mom, which I shared at her funeral Mass 13 years ago, concerned my strict orders for her not to open any mail from the College of the Holy Cross, the school I so want to attend in 1961. I remember coming home from Xavier HS and seeing her standing in the doorway, nervously shaking an envelope at me.   I dropped my school bag and raced to her. She promised she never opened it! With my mother offering nervous encouragement that she was sure I was accepted, I frantically tore the envelope apart. To my great pleasure mom was right.  I was now a member of the great Class of 1965. Why was she so encouraging? She had steamed it open in order to be prepared to comfort me if I had not made it.  What a mom!

4) On my 18th birthday I took a crazy redhead–I found out that all redheads are essentially little nuts—to see Camelot on Broadway. It starred Richard Burton, Robert Goulet and some unknown, Julie Andrews as Guinevere. All on the same stage!  At her door Mary honored me with a present–a lovely tie.

5) At Holy Cross I had a wonderful roommate for three years, whom I miss dearly. He died of a massive stroke 12 years ago.  During a fall prom weekend I had inadvertently run into the corner of a wall and split my head open. I had to go to the emergency room. Meanwhile Peter had moved all my clothes to our dates’ rooms so I could change there. I did make it through the weekend thanks to him though my head swelled up to twice its size on one side and it hurt every time I moved my head.

6) The next year I stayed up at school so I could attend the Boston College football game on our campus. Our team was terrible and B.C. had enjoyed an outstanding season.  The game was held just eight days after President Kennedy’s assassination.  We beat them 9-0. I also wound up with three dinners that day. I had a lot to be thankful for.

7) One of those dinners was at the home of probably my best lady friend during my college days. I saw a good deal of her those last two and a half years.  But best of all I loved talking to her. She was bright, intelligent and witty.  We spent 45 minutes on the phone the day after the Kennedy assassination just talking about it. I also saw her on the stage in one her college plays, Medea.  During her title role performance, she had to refer to her breasts.  I think I turned crimson.  How times have changes.  I have heard my only daughter drop a few F-bombs during her many stage performances in St. Louis and New York.

8) After college I went into the Catholic Lay Extension Volunteers. They sent me to Charleston, Missouri to teach history and coach basketball at St. Henry’s HS. This is where I met my future wife.  I remember vividly  the first time I saw her–it was at her grandfather’s memorial mass. She had a little Boo-Peep hat on.  We were married 11 months later. I have countless memorable moments with my wife.   Unfortunately many of them are not suitable for a family audience. So to keep my PG rating let me say that the best thing about my wife is her happy aura–that  special way she can fill an entire room with her Irish warmth and vitality.   These are qualities that I cannot quantify, bottle or consume.

9)  We had three children. With #1 son, I remember seeing him all cleaned-up a few hours his birth in July of 1967.   It was just a few hours after his birth as her doctor told me to go to class where I was studying for a Master’s degree.  I remember his hands–big like two catcher’s mitts. I took him to his first baseball game when he was four. It was with the Mets and the Cardinals.  To keep him happy all I had to do was feed him. In the top of the 9th he yelled out Mets go home!  And so did we.

10) My daughter was born in St. Louis, unlike her NY brother. I remember feeding her early in the morning. She had colic and so I would fix her medicine, warm the bottle, put her in the little Pumpkin seat we had and read the newspaper while trying to find her eager little mouth. I think I invented multi-tasking.

11) #2 son was a bicentennial baby.  Like the popular Shell Oil commercials of that time, the doctor did a moment in recognition of our 200th anniversary while delivering him. He was 23 inches long and prevented his mother from enjoying any meals the last three months of gestation. When He was 13 I took him out of school so we could see Super Bowl XXIII. In the last two minutes Joe Montana led the drive that resulted in the winning touchdown right in front of us. In fact I was on one of the highlight films that year.

12) In 1972 I drove to Louisville, Kentucky to interview Pee Wee Reese. I spent the day waiting for him at a friend’s house. I interviewed him in the same room where Roger Kahn interviewed Pee Wee for his legendary book, The Boys of Summer (1972).  Twelve years later I took #2 son to his induction in the Cooperstown Hall of Fame.

 

 

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About author

After graduating from Holy Cross, Bill Borst earned an MA in Asian History from St. John's University and a Ph.D in American History from St. Louis University. (1972) A former New Yorker, he taught for many years in the St. Louis area, while also hosting a weekly radio show on WGNU from 1984-2006. He currently is a regular substitute for conservative Phyllis Schlafly on KSIV radio. (1320) He is the author of two books on social history, "Liberalism: Fatal Consequences," and "The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy." He just retired as the Features editor of the Mindszenty Foundation Monthly Report. In his 11 years from 2003-2013 he wrote nearly 130 essays on Catholic culture and world affairs. Many in St. Louis also know him as the "Baseball Professor," because of a course that he offered at Maryville College from 1973-74. It was arguably the first fully-accredited baseball history course in the Midwest.The author of several short books on the old St. Louis Browns, he started the St. Louis Browns Historical Society in 1984. In 2009 his first two plays were produced on the local stage. "The Last Memory of an Ol' Brownie Fan," ran six performances at the Sound Stage in Crestwood and "A Perfect Choice" ran for two performances at the Rigali Center Theater in Shrewsberry. His third play, "A Moment of Grace," ran six performances at DeSmet High School in January of 2011with First Run Theater in January of 2011. He is currently working on a 4th play, "A Family Way," which is a comedy about a happy dysfunctional family. He can reached at bbprof@sbcglobal.net

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