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A Lesson for CJ

December 29, 2014

How nice it would be if my creative inventiveness accommodated the season—if only Christmas stories would flow from me right before the holidays, the same with Easter or Halloween. But my brain doesn’t work that way. This morning I was scratching my head for something to write about, and instead of an idea about dreary winter popping into my head, a vintage summer memory filled my thoughts. So, for those of you in need of a break from hoary Old Man Winter, here’s a warm weather story.


Mrs. Chatterbox’s parents moved to Portland when CJ was five years old. They wanted to be near enough to play a role in their grandson’s life, and we all got along tremendously well. My father-in-law was a retired Army lieutenant colonel, a golfer and avid baseball fan. One summer in 1985 he asked if he could take CJ to a baseball game. Then as now, Portland didn’t have a major league baseball team. but we did have a minor league team, The Beavers. They played at an old stadium in downtown Portland. One summer day, CJ and his grandpa headed downtown for an afternoon at the ballpark. When they returned, I could tell my son had enjoyed his outing with Grandpa.


“So you had a good time today,” I said that evening, tucking him in for the night.


“Sure did, Daddy!” He was bubbling with enthusiasm. “We ate hotdogs and pretzels, but the peanuts were the best.”


“Why were the peanuts the best?”


“Grandpa ordered a big bag from a guy walking around with ‘em, and he showed me how to break them open and toss the shells on the ground. At first I didn’t want to throw ‘em down and mess up the stadium, but he said it was okay, not to worry. That’s the way everyone did it. I looked around and he was right; the ground was covered with peanut shells.”


“I’m glad you had a good time. Maybe you, me and Mom will go to a game sometime.”


“What about next Saturday? Can we go to the ballpark? Pleeeze?”


My retail schedule didn’t afford me many Saturdays off, but I pulled a few strings and took my family to the ballpark to see the Beavers play. It was a rare Portland day, cloud free with a gentle breeze—perfect for baseball.


We were having a splendid time, with me wondering why we’d never done this before—why we’d had to wait for Grandpa to move to Oregon to teach our boy about the great American pastime—when CJ did something I’ll never forget.


When a popular player on our team struck out, fans started booing and hollering over that last pitch being judged a strike. Before I could stop him, little CJ climbed up onto his seat. Just as the crowd quieted down, he yelled as loudly as he could, in a tone that reminded me of a retired lieutenant colonel, golfer and baseball fan, “HEY UMPIRE, DON’T QUIT YOUR DAMN DAY JOB!!!!”


It must have been the acoustics in the stadium that caused five-year-old CJ’s voice to ring out like the clarion call of a trumpet. Hundreds of heads turned in our direction.


I was mortified and considered diving beneath the peanut shells blanketing my feet. It took a while for it to register that the thunderous sound I heard was laughter. CJ loved the attention and waved his tiny outstretched hands at his adoring fans. When we left the stadium his hair was ruffled by countless hands.


I could only imagine what else Grandpa had taught our boy. It wouldn’t take long to find out. Grandpa wasn’t finished educating little CJ. The next lesson came a few weeks later, when the circus came to town.


But that’s another story.





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Every kid deserves a grandpa like CJ.
By: Daniel LaFrance on December 29, 2014
Aren't grandparents wonderful! Heeheehee!
By: mimi on December 29, 2014
Delightful account! Watching baseball has become much better with the advent of cameras able to catch the movement of pitches, but baseball is still best observed in person--especially in a smaller ballpark.
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on December 29, 2014
One of those moments you will always remember. And probably he does, even though he was only 5. The time that the whole stadium listened to him! Great story!
By: Jenny on December 29, 2014
this is priceless! I loved Beaver baseball games.....those were the good old days! Happy 2015 to you!
By: Kathe W. on December 29, 2014
Gee--that must be the FIRST time a kid ever embarrassed his parents!!
By: fishducky on December 29, 2014
It could have been worse. I've heard of some guy who threw a half-filled cup of beer from the upper deck at Yankee Stadium. Or so I heard.
By: Al Penwasser on December 29, 2014
too dang cute!!! sweet!
By: TexWisGirl on December 29, 2014
Damn funny story!
By: Cranky on December 29, 2014
It sounds like a quote from my daughter would be appropriate, "Don't embarrass me Dad." You could turn this around and apply it to CJ.
By: red on December 29, 2014
Those peanuts are the best. I'm not sure why, but they are.
By: Rick Watson on December 29, 2014
That is just totally priceless. Loved it.
By: Akansas Patti on December 29, 2014
Splendid story! CJ is a fast student of the game as well!
By: Tom Cochrun on December 29, 2014
I wish my kids had spent more time with my dad. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on December 29, 2014
Fooled me. I was worried about the peanut shells. Like maybe he wanted to pick them all up next time.
By: Val on December 29, 2014
Awe what a great story, how much fun that would have been. You're right, definitely much better than reading about this winter stuff. Just glad today was pretty good, the sun came out and it was pretty warm.
By: Hey Monkey Butt on December 29, 2014
Ah, the wonderful - often risqué - things that grandpas teach our kids. Nice story to bring in the New Year. Have a good one.
By: Bryan Jones on December 30, 2014
Great story which brought tears to my eyes. :)
By: John on December 30, 2014
How adorable! I loved this, and I think you'd better re-post that circus story too. I'm wishing you, Mrs.Chatterbox, and CJ a wonderful 2015!
By: Lexa Cain on December 30, 2014
Oops. I know my grands have learned some things from me that my daughter would just as well forget too. tee hee
By: Oma Linda on December 30, 2014
Embarrassment can quickly turn to pride, eh? Great story. Now I want you to take us all to the circus.
By: Hilary on December 30, 2014
That's a classic, Stephen. And just what I needed as the forecast says it's going to snow here for a couple of days.
By: Catalyst on December 30, 2014
Ha! That made Dr. M and me laugh out loud :)
By: The Bug on December 30, 2014
It could have been a lot more embarrassing!
By: Pixel Peeper on December 30, 2014
Ha ha, that's funny. I never had a Granddad, which is something that quite often saddens me. Happy New Year to you!
By: LL Cool Joe on January 1, 2015
congrats on your POTW!
By: TexWisGirl on January 1, 2015

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