The Dad once told me about a cold day in April when he was leaving Bluefield. It was 1981 – the day after his father Stubby’s funeral. He pulled the car into a gas station to fill up before driving his family back 400 miles back to Cincinnati, and he came face-to-face with his pop. Stubby’s photo glanced up at him from the trash can. It was his obituary on the front page of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.
He said grief came over him in that moment. It brought it home that Stubby was literally and figuratively yesterday’s news. A family lost its patriarch. A town lost a significant champion. But sons lost their father. A wife lost her partner. Co-workers lost a friend.
Unfortunately, the grief is back. We recently lost The Dad. Like many deaths, it was a long time coming but too sudden, too soon. The Dad loved to tell stories about the sports scene he grew up in. He loved reminiscing about the neighborhood baseball games in which he played while living on Pen Mar. He was devoted to the 1959 Bluefield Beavers Football State Champs until the very end. He put West Virginia Mountaineers stickers on anything that wouldn’t move.
Even though we don’t have The Dad anymore doesn’t mean his stories are done being told, or our stories here are over. Even though the newsprint has long been recycled, the memories are old and dusty, and those we have loved may have gone on, we still have their stories to tell.
And Dad, I’ll miss you.
Since we’re in the dead heat of July, let’s continue with the boys of summer. In the 1940s, Stubby was a scout for the Boston Braves, and in 1948, he attended the World Series where the Cleveland Indians ultimately beat the Braves in the 6-game series. The Braves franchise moved to Milwaukee in 1953 and then to Atlanta in 1966.
Thanks to Larry: “Currence was a scout for the Braves when they were still in Boston and a keen judge of talent. He referred to the assignment as being a “bird dog” for the Braves in the decade before they moved to Milwaukee.”
Photo details: Holy publicity shot, batman! As a practitioner of the public relations arts, I can spot a staged photo at 10 paces. But I like this one. These guys are committed. Kudos on the acting job, fellas. My fav is the flag. It’s laminated to give it that perfect summer breeze stiffness. I’m not sure who else is in this photo. If you do, let me know in the comments.
P.S. I’m excited to be heading to the Reds vs. Diamondbacks game tonight. The Dad says baseball was Stubby’s favorite sport, as it is mine. I’d like to think if Grandpa Stubby was around, we knock back a few cold ones and he’d regale me with tales of the Bambino and the good ole days.