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The Joys of Chautauqua And In Memory of Bob Wolff and Lee May

I just got back from a blissful week at the Chautauqua Institution in southwestern New York State past Jamestown and not far from Erie, Penna. For the second straight summer, I was privileged to teach a class in Baseball and American Culture.

My students were a diverse and fascinating group that included former concession  Read More 
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Happy New Year Despite

"Casablanca" is on TCM now as I write my end-of-year blog. Quite fitting in the year that Theo Epstein orchestrated the Cubs to their first World Series title since 1908. As is well known, Theo's grandfather and grand-uncle created the story of the Bogart-Bergman-Henreid-Rains classic (I've read that there wasn't really a script).

Today December 27 is my half-birthday. It would have been my late sister Carol's 78th birthday but my only sibling - exactly 3 and a half years older - left us almost a year and a half ago. She battled the same lung cancer that my mother suffered from - diagnosed at the same age 75 and neither of them ever smoked. But they did breathe New York City air for many years.

Carol Lowenfish Norton was a brave and creative person who made northern California her home after college in New York. After raising her only child Eric in New Jersey, she returned to the West Coast, living in Santa Barbara, running a b and b in Seattle before settling in the lovely mid-Calif. coastal town of Los Osos.

Carol was basically supportive of my baseball passion. When I lived in Baltimore in the early 1970s she brought young Eric to an Orioles game at old Memorial Stadium.
I recall that Lee May hit two home runs in an Orioles loss.

She was a good journalist and her keen eye noted something beyond baseball in the crowd. Though it was in the days before the explosion of modern concessions, she observed in a piece for a suburban Jersey newspaper, "The national pastime is not baseball - it is eating."

So as the drama in "Casablanca" builds, I will lift a glass in memory of Carol on this fourth night of Hanukkah. And wish you all Happy New Year Despite . . . the bleak outlook for caring governance in the year and years ahead. For we must remember that the world will always welcome lovers and lovers of genuine freedom.

And also remember: Take it easy but take it!  Read More 
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