Friday, January 7, 2011
A Dear John letter
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They're all that's left you
-- Paul Simon
Keep a camera nearby in your travels, and don't be afraid to use it. That's the only reason this photo exists. It was one of those gorgeous sun-splashed March afternoons at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Florida, and after a few innings watching their beloved Pittsburgh Pirates our good friends the Foormans had worked up a thirst.
John and Betty lived in Ludington, Michigan, but wintered in a trailer court off bustling U.S. 41 in Bradenton, just a short drive to the ballpark. John was a retired auto worker, and a cranky one at that. He had some health issues, but he was tougher than a lug nut. What a beautiful piece of work he was. And, doctor's orders or not, Betty would allow him one beer a game, so it was a delight to head down the steps between innings to share a draft with him in the picnic area. Wise cracks and crazy stories would spill out.
We were hoping to track down the Foormans yesterday to find out if they were back in Bradenton gearing up for another spring training season, but we didn't have a phone number. Instead, during a Google search, we discovered that John had passed away in Michigan last fall at age 80.
We are crestfallen and moved to tears. But we have this photograph, and so many memories of good times shared with the Foormans at McKechnie Field, Section 1, Row 10, behind home plate, where John called 'em the way he saw 'em. And everybody within earshot knew the real score.