Day 266: Wahoo

It’s Day 266 of 15 Days to Flatten the Curve and Day 26 of Ohio’s 21-Day WuFlu Curfew.

Deb and I are well. Been a quiet Monday here.

Every month or so during my childhood, the family would pile into the car and drive an hour south to visit my maternal grandparents in Cambridge. It was like a mini-vacation — accustomed to playing in the fields and woods at home, for an afternoon I got to explore city streets and alleys.

I’d hang out at my uncle’s filling station, a Cambridge institution, occasionally riding with him or my older cousins on a wrecker call. A tall vending machine outside dispensed ice-cold pop — Coca-Cola, Tab, Fanta and root beer — in glass bottles.

A short walk up the hill took me to the Victory Market for candy cigarettes and wax novelties. Downtown was Kennedy’s Bakery, established before my parents were born (and still operating to this day), where I’d buy a bag of pastries to bring back to the house.

My grandpa, hard of hearing and pretty near blind, sat in His Chair by the window. He smoked a pipe, the heavy aroma of Kentucky Club filling the room. A mantel clock clicked crisply and chimed four times every hour. On a small table next to the chair sat a fair-sized transistor radio — General Electric, battery-powered, brown leather case.

Grandpa was a baseball fan, and on summer afternoons his chairside radio was always tuned to the Indians game. I’d sit on the floor at his feet and listen to his commentary — always a couple of plays behind, since at his age it’d take him a while to gather his thoughts about what he’d just heard.

I got to know names like Rocky Colavito, Sam McDowell, Luis Tiant, Mudcat Grant. The familiar voices of Jimmy Dudley and Herb Score brought everything to life. And, of course, because we’re talkin’ about the Indians here, I became acquainted with futility.

My memories of sitting in that small room with Grandpa, the crackle of the AM radio, the smell of pipe smoke and the ticking of the clock are indelible.

Cambridge, like ‘most everywhere else in America, has changed quite a bit since then. Grandpa, the only grandfather I knew, has been gone since 1972. The Indians are no longer a symbol of perennial failure.

And much of the simple life we knew has gone to hell in a handcart.

The Tribe’s whimsically wonderful logo, Chief Wahoo, made its final appearance on the diamond two years ago. Today, your Cleveland Indians announced that the 2021 season will be its last playing under the name it’s gone by since 1915.

The team refers to this as “rebranding.” The media are reporting on it as a culturally sensitive business decision, made “at a time when America is coming to terms with its racist past.”

What it is, in fact, is an organization’s attempt to survive in a society tortured by identity and perceived offense, increasingly populated by wussified Americans who take themselves way too seriously.

And as long as we keep supporting progressives and weak-kneed neo-cons, in business as well as in politics, it will continue.

Indians. Redmen, Rebels. Fighting Sioux. Redskins. Aztecs. Warriors. Savages. Plainsmen. Chiefs.

There are two kinds of people in this country — those who aren’t bothered by any of those names, and those who are wrong.

The baseball team that plays up by the lake will always be the Cleveland Indians to me, and Chief Wahoo will always be its mascot. I believe Grandpa would agree.

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath