Dr. Spudman44

Dr. Spudman44
Tumbleweed, Washington,
June 06
Dr. Spudman's 44 Ripples of Hope Creations
BANNER BY RICTRESA I live on the border of Eastern Washington and Idaho. I have been a teacher, coach, and mental health worker. I make books for people and write some myself. I tutor a few people. Come visit me at my website. It has some cool stuff. Scroll down to links and click on www.drspud44.net


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FEBRUARY 20, 2010 9:16PM

I Think Michael Did Away with Himself- A Good News Tale

Rate: 37 Flag


 A mile south of the old neighborhood

The Paiges lived down three doors from us in a typical, clean little house of the time. Cathy Paige was three years older than my pals and me and had blossomed early.  She was a forbidden blonde who used to like to water the back garden in her pink bikini on hot summer days.  We would spy on her with binoculars as she got her tan.  She had on a permanent smile as the sun gazed down on her body stretched out on the cheap lounge. We were amazed by her. Her older brother, Michael, was nearly the opposite. 

He always worn blue jeans and a long white shirt even on the hottest August days.  He would sit in the shade and read.  He would always wave at us and call us each by name.  He was a big guy but had never joined us in any sports or play.  Except for one time.  He strolled up to the baseball diamond with a new Nellie Fox bat and hit us flyballs and grounders one day.  He cheered our good  plays and kept hitting the ball toward our eager gloves.  His white shirt was covered with sweat as he waved to us and headed home.  I ran up to him and said, "Michael, that was really neat.  Thanks for giving us so much practice. That is one cool bat. I'm going to try to be as good as Nellie Fox someday.  Will you come up again? " 

"You can be that good, Bobby.  I know you can. " He smiled and touched my ball cap and nodded.  He never did return. 

 On a still blistering hot night, I was in the front yard watering the trees and bushes, my favorite job,  in the dark.  I heard Michael's pickup start up and looked up as the red Chevy pulled by me.  I gave a sincere wave and he returned it, with an added little honk of his truck horn.  He turned right,  went down a half a block to the alley, and turned into it.  I heard the motor stop as he parked under his folks' carport.  I came up early the next morning  and Mom was looking out of the kitchen window.  I joined her. There was an ambulance and a police car in the Paige's back driveway.  

"Mom, what happened?"


"I think Michael did away with himself," she answered.

 I raced downstairs and turned on the black and white console.  I was crying as I tried to follow the plot of Sky King.  The Huckleberry Hound cartoon came on but I didn't feel like laughing so I turned it off.  I sat in the dark and cool of the basement.  I had never known anyone who had died before.  The Jensen brothers came running down the stairs.  

"Michael killed himself!  He put a hose into his window in the carport and filled it with gas from his truck engine. That's what Dad said, " spoke Mark.  I jumped up off the couch and we went outside just in time to see the ambulance and cop car leaving the alley.  We saw Cathy and her mom hugging and rocking.  Mr. Paige, an older version of his now gone son, came out and softly guided the two into the basement.  We went to the shed next to our little back patio and took out the whiffle ball and bats.  We were heading out to play our usual game when little Mike said, "Look at that, you guys."  I ran over and there on the top of the picnic table sat a nearly new baseball bat.  I picked it up and held it.  It was a Nellie Fox model with its famous thick handle!


Nellie Fox  himself in action

I polished that bat and kept it with me under my bed for years. Six years later, I took it out  the night before  the big game against cross-valley rival Clarkston and swung it.  I used it in the game and went 4 for 5 and knocked in the winning run with it in the top of the eighth inning.  I never used it again. I held it up in the evening sky as I left the field as a tribute to Michael, who was going to try to help the world. With Michael's gift,  I indeed had become Nellie Fox, for one day at least.

It sits against my wall with all my baseball memorabilia to this day.

We never spied on Cathy again.  

  Post Thoughts:  I have tried to piece together over the years why Michael ended his life.  It ended up that he had wanted to go into the ministry and was planning on studying to become a Catholic priest.  I think he may have been gay, which would have been absolute torture back in the late fifties and early sixties.  That is what makes sense as an explanation after forty years of thought.



 Spud in action-1968-Almost as good as Nellie.

We watch television and think the images are real, ignoring what is happening near us to people we know and care about.  I vow to become more aware and helpful with real people, real issues in my own area.  Will you join me?  Let the masses live through television.  Some of us want to be of more direct help.  Share the love/fight the hate. 



 My town going to sleep soon.  How many here would appreciate some comfort?  


  from Echoes from  the Neighborhood--Chapter six.


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It didn't dawn on me until later that I was the last one to ever see him on this earth.
Man, this brought tears to my eyes. And bless you for keeping the bat. Spudman, you're one of a kind. Thanks for being you.

Also, that picture means you're a loooooot older than me. Cooler, yes, but older. Just thought you'd like to know. ;~)
Thanks Owl, I have given away my secret. I am so old i fart dust.

Token--I knew it! I knew you were an old ball player! I have been writing an entire series on the best I have seen. A half-century of ball. I was a batboy for the minor league team. Blue Moon Odom, Reggie Jackson, Rick Monday etc. I was all-state and went to college on a full ride. I coached for thirty years. I choked up, way up and used a Nellie type thick handle for all my years. In America Legion our team won the state championship 13 years in a row. We lost to an Oregon team two years in a row in the regional finals. Both teams won the national championship.
I'm speechless, this was real and the end when you think back why, that is the wonderful human in you that would continue to wonder what would have caused him to do this.
Holy crap this was good! No joke.

Made me think.

Recognized my own childhood and my own love for baseball. Recognized your maturity and empathy.

Great writing.


Thank you Charlie for such kind words. I love this piece myself.
This is very good. I love the way you've written it - the stark feel of the piece, the memory of Michael hitting pop-flies and ground-balls to you and your friends, and especially your description of watching Michael drive past you that night - waving and giving a honk of his horn. You painted the scene so vividly it was like a movie playing in my head. That scene was in slow motion in my head - you with the water hose, turning slowly to see Michael, his hand coming up in a slow-motion wave and you watching as he drove down the street and made the turn. All of it in slow-mo. The finality of that scene killed me. Chilling.
The other part that killed me? You trying to watch television through tears, turning off the Huckleberry Hound cartoon because you didn't want to laugh. So vividly real -again.

I'm with you. Share the love/fight the hate.

Thank you Unbreakable for such a detailed comment. Funny thing is your comment made me tear up! You are such a fine friend here in this artist's colony in which we create and spin stories.
Spudman, you're one of a kind. Makes you all the more valuable.
Masterfully told and sad as can be. My goodness. Life's lessons suck.
I always reflect back to a quote, and I don't know who exactly said it (I'll probably butcher it), but, its to say that its not the number of breaths you take, but how many times someone takes your breath away.
Life is precious. Life lessons are learned and admired. This post was incredibly sweet, touching and inspirational.
You take many breaths away with your continued outlook on life in your posts. It makes people reflect on their lives and their breathless moments.
I sure have...
Thanks Dr.
RATED. Loved this post deeply!
A really true, honest story. R
Thanks Trig and that was a good line about the basset hounds. Mucho Dinero coming your way, I hope, I hope.\

N. Jordan-- Your comment touched me deeply. Thanks for being such a regular visitor. I love you for it.

Old, new lefty--Someone wrote a great piece on Oaxaca today. I wish I could find it for you. Thanks for reading and commenting.
Beautiful story Spud!

"I vow to become more aware and helpful with real people, real issues in my own area. Will you join me? Let the masses live through television." YES! I too subscribe to this theory.
Thanks Sparking--Let's live not watch!
I need to get to sleep, I guess. I will read this later. I love the sunflower photo! And you have captured my attention with the first paragraph. It's a wonderful voice you are writing with here and, I think, the perfect level of specific details. Nice! Rated.
What a beautiful storyteller you are, Dr. Spud and what a beautiful story you told.
touching remembrance, well told
I put Patty asleep!
Hey, Trilogy, when are we getting together for an OS Seattle tour?

Roy--thanks! Where have you been hiding?
This touched me to the core. It is a truly sorrowful experience when someone you look up to dies, especially if they're young. And the part about the bat...well...beautiful. Thanks for this post. Much love to you.
Thank you for continuing to write.
I really like this Dr. Spud, all the elements of a good story, baseball, beautiful unattainable woman, death and a life lesson. Thank you. r
This is beautiful, Dr. S.,...Share the Love/Fight the Hate. xox
Makes you wonder. People can seem so together on the outside and be so torn up on the inside. Rated, Doc.
I used to live and breath baseball. I would bet that bat means as much to you as anything you own. Great story, Spud~
Such a well written piece about a life lesson.
Stud, you blew me away with this one. A slice of life where a lesson was learned well. Gut puncher. It brought tears to my eyes.
I like. Yes I do like.
Share the love/fight the hate!!!
Yes yes.
Beautiful. Straight and heartfelt; vivid and suggestive. (I had a Nellie also, but it rarely made contact.)
I just got up and here are some of my favorite people sitting here, their comments hatched for my enjoyment. What could be better?
Jill- Such high praise! Makes my heart swell.
Jay--well, thanks for coming by!
Rita--any praise from your skilled pen in hand is an honor. Congrats on the tiara...
Robin--I was hoping you would read this for my explanation at the end alone.
T. Mic--You have been such a fine friend for many months now. I want you to know how much I appreciate your attention and encouragement.
Scanner--I thought you might be an old ballplayer!
Mission---You comment was like a soothing breeze to me. Thank you so much.

AtHOme-- I was so hoping that you would find this one. I know you are a baseball nut just like me. I just read your last posts on words, that I almost missed somehow. It was a hoot to read.
What a beautiful expression of how we can gain introspect from the loss of another. A wonderful tribute to a young man that, in death, gave meaning to your life Doc. You are an amazing man. Thank you, again, for sharing part of you with us.
TMeyes--Well, friend thanks for holding my hand through my efforts here. How is mom today, by the way?
I'm struck by the gesture he made in leaving that bat for a young boy with baseball dreams. To think what kind of man he would have become had he not made that last decision...
Spud - great writing, sad story
Our internet kept crapping out last night otherwise I would have been here sooner. Its always the details that provide the clues and bring your stories to life. The extra honk of his truck horn, turning off Huckleberry Hound, Mr. Paige guiding the two inside the house, are the little actions you describe that drive the story home.

Such a phrase "did away with himself." I was hoping it wasn't true. That maybe he ran off to play baseball or something ... but you...you at least put his bat to good use.
Morning Spud, Someone once said the measure of a 'good' writer was the author's ability to convince the reader to suspend their disbelief and ride along with the author. You did that in spades and more! Thanks so much for sharing.
Also I added to the tags. This is too good to not give the other folks on Salon a chance to read it. Salute!
This really drew me in. And yes, let's share the love and fight the hate.
CK Dex-- I have wondered that also. He was a gentle young guy, what would he have been as an adult?
Cooganbluf--Thanks, ball pal. I thought about calling your house to blog whore this and then remembered your daughter!
Scarlett--You always pick up on the details which is an honor. Did you see Perry and me yet?
Patie--One of my favorite people is back! Come here, Patie. Sit down and have a cup of tea. Let's talk Tall Girl.
Sixtycandles--60 candles huh? I am very, very close to the magic number myself. I am glad you enjoyed.

I tried but it said Error- page not found. I'll try rooting back through your posts rather than a link ...
A great tribute to him and the kindness of the human spirit. That you have never forgotten him helps keep that going from you to other people, and your message to of us.
I was truly there, every moment of this wonderful story. Your writing is so gentle and powerful - you teach beautiful lessons. Are they parables? It took my breath away.
I don't usually comment unless I have something to say, but I always look forward to your posts. Great piece. And did you notice, amid all the C-PAC crap, pitchers and catchers reported to camp...
This is a wonderful tribute, well written, sweet and true. It makes me sad to think about what he might have become - what he might have given to this world that might have made it a better place. I know he had that impact on you in a few brief moments...maybe that was the mission? Well done.
Spud - you could call all you want but these days I'm down at National's Park pounding on the front gate and screaming, "PLAY BALL!!!"
I'm glad I waited until this morning to read this wonderful story. You have given great insight into the emotional and sentimental attachment that many have to sports and in particular this sport. That you would think of someone who inspired you on the day of an important game, use his bat and then save it for all these years perfectly illustrates this attachment.
Lord, this is an interesting place! I wrote this story long ago. I was hesitate to post it as I thought it would have limited appeal. Wow, was I wrong. It seemed to touch others. I came back from my morning walk and even more people came by.
Browneyed Girl and Aim came by and left me a gift of kind words.
Meatmonkey--Yes, my friend, I did notice! Watch the Seattle Mariners this year.
MMcK--Wow, could his mission have been that simple? That is something to reflect upon.
Bonnie--I don't know what became of them. Perhaps, I will try to find out, that could be interesting.
Coogan--Is that what the Nationals do? Sorry, that was mean and uncalled for. I agree--PLAY BALL
Daniel--I hope to shake your hand someday....
What a touching story Spudman! It seems to me that he actually did see you for who you are, but somehow, no one seemed to be willing to see him any better than you did.

I had a Roger Maris bat myself.