June 16th…“RELATE YOUR HAPPIEST MEMORY AS A YOUNG BOY ON THE FARM!”
Since my earliest days as an infant, looking up into the kind eyes of my brother Lowell, I automatically placed him in the category of my hero…..and I STILL do!!! Big brother came to be my mentor, muse, confidant, protector and overall life example. Beloved is his status in my life!! I can see why some of the early definitions of “hero” were related to a being born from one mortal and one immortal union; a cut above the rest. And, although he came from our precious, very human parentage, I placed him on a well-deserved plain of wonderment. Today, I’ll share one of my reasons why he means so much to me.
With the age span of eleven years between us, my elder sibling was, in many ways, like a young father to me. He saw to it that this little waif was included in many of his life adventures, when possible.
One comfortable Summer’s evening, we two brothers lay sprawled on top of the bedspread of Lowell’s neatly made bed. We were discussing, in the glow of his bedlamp, the possibility of allowing me to be “part of the gang” on a trip to see the Minnesota Twins baseball team play at the newly opened Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota.
My excitement was so intense, it was to the point of being almost palpable at the very thought of being allowed to enter the “inner circle” of my elder brother’s next “big grownup guy” adventure!! The amber glow of his reading lamp seemed even warmer as I was now granted permission to be part of this mature, manly outing.
Knowing that I had the proclivity of being a “Garrulous Gus” with up to 1,000 mph (“mouthings per hour”) blasts, big brother began to lay down the rules of expected behavior on this special trip with the big guys. “Little boys are to be SEEN and not HEARD!” “You will sit quietly in the back seat of the car and not speak unless you are spoken to, is that clear?” Geeewhillickers, that was fine with me!!!! Heck, if necessary, I would’ve put my itty bitty hand on a whole stack of Bibles…..just let me come along. I happily agreed to all conditions to be able to be allowed into the grownup guy’s inner sanctum.
Lowell’s two buddies rolled into our farmyard on that marvelous early morning as we all climbed into brother’s sleek, baby blue 1957 Ford Fairlane. My mute little body, with grin from ear to ear, sat as quiet as a mouse on the passenger side of the back seat as I was instructed. There I was, midget man, among these giant grownups who I admired so much. I was honored to be included in this special day!!! The two hour drive took us through rich, black-soiled Minnesota farmlands in what seemed like a blink of time. Before you knew it, we were pulling into the massive parking lots of that 160 acre baseball campus. Brother Lowell had done his planning well, for we had terrific seats just behind and to the left of the Twins home plate.
One of the “kings of swat”, on the Twins team, was Harmon Killebrew. I kinda think my mouth hung open in awe of seeing this baseball hero play that day. Later, in 1967, Mr. Killebrew clobbered a home run “out of the park” for a record length of 520 feet in distance. This was not only his all-time best hit, but was recorded as the longest home run ever hit in that stadium. After getting home from this amazing day, I began to collect all the baseball cards that I could get of this super slugger. Over time, though, most of those baseball cards became “motorcycle noise makers” on the spokes of my bicycle.
There I was, beyond blessed just to spend time with my hero brother. On top of that, I had been given a free ticket to the game, fed hot dogs and a soda drink and even sat right behind home plate on a sparkling Summer’s day. But, wait! That was not all! The “icing on the cake” was that brother Lowell felt that I had behaved well in living up to my “end of the bargain”, so he bought me my very own hard-shell Twins batting helmet AND a new baseball glove!!!! This tiny farmer boy was almost in tears from the height of elation that I felt at that moment!!! I cherished and wore that helmet for years. Each time I put on that helmet, I thanked our good Lord that I was ….and still AM….blessed to be the little brother of another Norwegian Farmer’s Son!! 😉