Four of us Just finished a long hot summer of an afternoon playing doubleheader in a cow pasture in June of ’41.
Along the hard dusty dirt road back from that field of 31g League machination Gwiffy tapped the fat end of the Louisville Slugger, religiously (that’s the word)—every third step, with the touch of a scepter, investing the bat with an ounce of unction.
We drank long at the fountain under the great elm back at school and like true believers asked:
What did the master tap the Louisville Slugger signed “Lou Gehrig” for?
“To ‘POWERIZE’ it“, Gwiffy wheedled asthmatically, as if it might be the secret of our mountains grandeur, too.!
Satisfied as by living water we followed the mystical process up the long wooden steps to the dorm above the Gym where the golden thread of Gwil’s will drew us 1nto yet another mythic game of doubleheaders, while the bat was stashed in a closet full of dirty clothes—lethal, majestic, and, apparently, completely “POWERIZED”.
Gwiffy breathe exuberance into hot breath over cool dice creating the cheers of thousands as dice rolled out complete games of hits, runs, and errors: snake eye triples, boxcar homeruns, seven eleven outs–Gehrig, DiMaggio, Musial, W111isms; Yanks, Cardinals, Sox; box scores, standing, averages—all properly inscribed in yellow sheaves of statistics.
A fervor of virtual reality transformers the National Pastime into the stuff of boyhood dreams, while I cast a backward glance, and there, in a Pile of dirty underwear, burnt into the Louisville Slugger above Lou Gehrig’s signature, was the eclectic word—“POWERIZED”.’
Prom then on I knew through whom the gods spoke.
The next time they spoke was in the d1ning hall over creamed chipped beef when Gwil repeatedly tapped out Beethoven’s, ”da-da-da-dah” on the announcement chimes, until a solemn awareness came over the student body:
(a voice from Golgotha) “Lou Gehr1g died at ten o’clock last night.'”
He knew it all then.
Something like those chimes must have gotten our attention again a short lifetime later in ’75, not long after Gwiff had whispered it to his wife:
“I must be dying, Mom…”
*ne Gwilym Slater Brown
By Steve Stevenson