Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Sunday Memory Drawer - One Vacation Destination

Next weekend is the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony and I am guessing thousands of Met fans will be motoring up to Cooperstown to see their hero Mike Piazza get his plaque on the wall.   I no longer count myself as one of his fans after reading his incredibly whiny autobiography.   And, of course, for some misguided reason, he chose that tome to publicly trash Vin Scully.   

Stupid, stupid.

The Hall of Fame weekend in Cooperstown is probably a carnival.   If you really want to go there and enjoy the place all to yourself, try another weekend.  But, by all means, go.   

I myself have been to Cooperstown twice in my life and I pledge to go one more time before I play on that big diamond in the sky.  The next time will be the occasion where I really celebrate its existence.   My first two trips don't necessarily count.

Ah, flashback...

My first visit to Cooperstown came when I was about ten or eleven.   It was an ignoble experience because it would be one of the last summer vacations my parents and I took together.   Already we were running out of places to go because my family unit didn't really go any place that you couldn't drive to.   And, while we used to vacation with other families, all those connections started to drift off.   Indeed, Cooperstown would be a place we would venture...just the three of us.

Okay, at least I was excited by the prospect.  This was a dream for me.  Home of the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Given my new love for America's sport, this was a great choice on their part.  I couldn't wait to walk on Doubleday Field, where the game was allegedly invented.  I was dying to see all the plaques in the Hall itself.  And buy some nifty souvenirs.  

Plus it didn't look like that far a drive for me to be cooped up in the back seat of that year's family Buick.  

At least, it didn't on the map.

For some reason, my father, who was usually buttoned up on the driving part, opted not to drive up to central New York State on a highway.  He used back roads that seemed to add a week to the trip.  

Oh, look.  A farm house.

Oh, look.  A farm house.

Oh, look.  A cow.  And another farm house.

I fell into a coma.

Meanwhile, my mother was equally as pissed in the front seat.

Oh, look.  A farm house.

Oh, look.  A farm house.

Oh, look.  A cow.  And another farm house.

She wanted to put my dad into a coma.

When we finally arrived within the city limits of Cooperstown, another glitch raised its ugly head.  My folks hadn't exactly done their homework on lodging possibilities.  Given it was summer and close to that year's Hall induction ceremonies, rooms were scarce.  We wound up at a motel off the main drag that hopefully has been upgraded since then.   At the time, there was one major problem with the place.

There was no air conditioning.

Well, we didn't have it at home either.  But, here in hot and sultry Central New York State, we wanted it.  Badly.  As far as my mother was concerned, that's the whole reason why you go to a hotel during the summer.  Thanks to our lack of planning, we had no other options.  This would be our pressure cooker for two nights.  

The tension was as thick as the night air.  After the day of repeated farm houses, my parents were exhausted and wanted to go to bed.  The only child was once again reduced to finding his own fun.

I turned on my transistor radio and was transported to a magical world.  For some reason, you can pick up lots of out-of-town baseball game broadcasts at night.  I figured that this was because I was in Cooperstown, the mecca of all baseball.  Indeed, it was more likely that the calm night air allowed radio signals to travel further.  Nevertheless, I was in heaven.

Wow, it's the Pittsburgh Pirates game!

Wow, it's the Cleveland Indians game!

Wow, it's....

A voice came from the dark on the other side of the room.


I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame the very next day.  I savored every plaque and piece of memorabilia.  I took several weeks of allowance and purchased some baseball books from a local souvenir vendor.  And, while I couldn't actually walk on Doubleday Field due to some ill-time sprinkler activity, I sat in a dugout and pretended to be Yogi Berra.  

Even my mom seemed to enjoy the day, despite the fact that this was a good two decades before she became a Met fan.  She probably was simply happy to be out of the rotisserie grill that was passing for our motel.

But I could feel some friction going on between Mom and Dad.  They said little to each other in the car going home.  Except for one terse suggestion from my mother to our driver.

"Take the highway home."

If this was the next-to-last family vacation, you probably will want to know about the last one.  The excursion that killed it for all time.

Given that bitter memory, I wanted to revisit Cooperstown as an adult.   I figured I would appreciate it even more.   So, my best friend from high school and I decided to do an overnight trip there.  

This time, we would not take the road that led us through the back end of Farmville.   This time, I would call ahead and secure really respectable lodging. And, since I was indeed my mother's child, it would absolutely have to feature air conditioning.

But there was one little curveball.   My pal and I had never really traveled together before.

Oh, don't get me wrong.   We didn't fight or anything.   The drive up, eschewing my dad's ultra-scenic route, went by quickly.   We were able to go through the Hall and see all the new exhibits that had been added since my family had gone there.   And the weather was beautiful to the point where air conditioning might not have been needed.   

We had dinner and then checked into our hotel room which actually did look like the picture on the brochure.   Using my noggin, I had even secured a two bedroom suite so we both had some privacy.  

The plan was to visit the Hall again the next day to see the stuff we missed.   But a night's sleep would be welcome.   We retired to our rooms.

And then I learned something about my buddy that I never knew.

He snored.   I don't mean little snores.   I mean big snores.   The kind that sounded like you were living next door to a lumber mill.   The kind that were audible from a bedroom two walls away.

What the f????

There was my first trip to Cooperstown where I didn't want to sleep because I wanted to listen to faraway games on my radio.   And now there was my second trip to Cooperstown where I desperately wanted to sleep and couldn't.   I suddenly realized what it must be like to live next to those subway train yards. Or blocks from the landing pattern at JFK Airport.  I think those folks get used to the noise there after a while.   But, trying to sleep two doors away from this...???

I don't think my friend knows this and, if he reads this entry, he will know it now.   

I went out and slept in the car that night.

He asked me the next day as I slouched through the Baseball Hall of Fame.

"Is your back bothering you?"

Um, lumpy mattress.

"Mine was fine.   I slept great."


Yes, I want to go back to Cooperstown one more time.   Maybe I better do it alone.

Dinner last night:  BLT sandwich at Cafe 50s.

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