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Irving Graduation - Blue Crushed Velvet - Thanks Richard!!!
How cool is it to get a photo in your inbox from 39 years ago? Really cool!!! It brought tears to my eyes for many different reasons. First, it was just so great to hear from a fellow classmate that I met in third grade and enjoyed all the way through the beginning of 10th grade. Yep, Richard "Dickie" Tom took the time to share some thoughts with me via my inbox. The fact that he would send along some kudos for the Washington Irving Facebook Group that we put together also felt really good to read. Richard is not Facebook junkie, yet he visited the Irving page and read some of the stories and experiences and he mentioned how it helped to bring back some great memories and feelings for days that had otherwise been long forgotten.
Richard shared in part... "Just wanted to say great job on the Irving site that you put together! It's great to see the response you've gotten and that when people look at it, it automatically transports us back to some really great and semi-innocent days." His reference to semi-innocent days really struck a chord in me, as these were the days when we were discovering everything about life, sports, and girls.
The photo proudly shows Richard and I on graduation day sporting our tuxedos. I shared earlier this morning on the Washington Irving Facebook page... "Gina, that photo really opens up the memory banks. You look like you knew you were rocking the world! I wonder if I can find a picture of my crush velvet light blue with black trim and paisley print tuxedo sporting the big ruffled and black bow tie. It was an important day and dressing up in my first tuxedo made it that much more special. 9th grade graduation for my kids was a ho-hum experience. For us, back in 1976, I remember it as being a special milestone as we all gave hugs and then split up to 3 different high schools."
I immediately responded to Richard Tom's email that contained the photo with some thoughts and feelings about him that have stuck with me all of these years...
Wow!... That tuxedo looks exactly like I remembered it.
Getting your email warmed my heart. I have very fond memories of you. When I started the FB page you were one of my high priorities to reconnect with. In so many ways I was so envious of you and your talents. I remember joining Glassell Park Baseball and was drafted to the magenta colored Cardinals along with Ronnie Fernandez. You were part of the Blue Dodgers… I absolutely love blue and hate magenta to this very day. Your Dad always seemed to be a part of your sporting events, while my Dad came to one game. It happened to be the All-Star game and it was my second year and I deserved to be there as the starting catcher. Unfortunately for me, the coach of our team had a first year son who was also a catcher and I sat the entire game. Dad never did take the time to get to see me play again.
ENVIOUS - When it came time to go buy my first baseball glove my Mother took me to K-mart over by Van de Kamp’s and bought me a funky colored blue K-mart “All-Pro” brand glove. It was the best we thought we could afford and it didn’t make much difference because it was stolen from me at Irving anyway. Now flip that a bit and you might remember the glove you were using… Yes I broke one of the 10 commandments and totally coveted your Rawlings Fastback with the Deep V bellows web pocket. The Rawlings exclusive smooth back with the index finger hole was what I always dreamed of having, after all, most big leaguers of the day that I cared about also used Rawlings. You had so much talent and could pitch, field, and hit like none other. I have told my kids many times while coaching them about Dickie Tom and how naturally talented you were in the day.
You inspired me to go home after school and spend hundreds and thousands of hours throwing a ball against a wall in front of my neighbors house and learn to field balls and react to all of the different scenarios that I would create in my head. That first year I was the lowly right fielder and struck out 33 times. I worked so hard on my fielding and my hitting and I dreamed of pitching with the finesse that you always displayed.
Something happened between my first and second year and blessings came down from heaven and everything started to click. I could hit, I could field, and I could throw. It was a complete 180 degree turn around and I spent the rest of my playing days at either third base, first base, center field, or behind the plate at catcher. I always seemed to get on base and I loved to steal and slide. I continued to play softball, coach my kids teams, and I still officiate high school and rec league baseball and my new love, girls fast pitch softball. Part of my slow development had to do with the horrific arm through the window accident just before 5th grade started that left me with everything in my lower right arm severed twice and over 375 stitches taken to secure it all back together again. That rehab took a year and I still deal with it today, thou most people never know unless I show them the scars.
THANKFUL - I am very thankful that you took the time to share some thoughts with me today. Tom Hardesty was my best buddy, until he moved away back in grade school. We used to play army, hide and seek, and cardboard slide down the hills near our homes since our back yards joined one another. I have tried to find him over the years, but to no avail. If you have contact info, then please share. I would love for you to check into the Facebook page every now and then and comment when you feel so inclined. You were one of the very influential members of our graduating class and I know there are many out there that would love to hear news from you. I encourage you to reach out to those that comment. I have found them to really be a great group of people. Like it or not, we are all interlinked by our experiences in those early years of our lives.
Make it a great day!