A Home Run for Some; A Walk Down Memory Lane for Me

Wait Till Next Year - Doris Kearns Goodwin


This was a quick read filled with nostalgia. I'm about 10 years younger than Goodwin , but easily related to her childhood experience of suburban, almost idyllic life on Long Island. Doors were open, doctors lived on the street and made house calls, TVs were in large consoles though their screens were small and their antennas had to be fiddled with and Howdie Doodie was the Saturday show of choice. Moms watched Soaps and wore aprons, and dads went to work in suits and drank martinis.


In the Preface, Godwin explains why she was inspired to write this memoir. Baseball was important to Goodwin, her father Michel Kearns, Rockville Center and most of America. She was asked about baseball by Ken Burns for a documentary.
In contrast, my family was and probably still is out of step with the world and we didn't and don't participate in the annual spring, summer and fall idolatry of the Pin Stripes and their calculus and logarithms. That being said, baseball is a national "treasure". It created a bond between Doris and her father and was a focal point for her community as the U.S. edged away from WW II, past the Korean War and through the Cold War and Space Race. As a historian she put these facts together the way she filled out score card for each game, neatly, methodically and with attention to detail.
She described her parents impoverished childhoods, their great love and their journey from the metropolis of Brooklyn to their tiny bit of heaven in Rockville Center. She discussed the role of the Catholic Church in her family life and in her community.
My parents with $5 were also able to put a down payment on a new house in a new development built in the middle of potato fields about 15 miles north of the older, more established Rockville Center. Although I'm younger than Goodwin, I could see the same neighborhood that she described. I also knew everyone on the street, walked to kindergarten on my own and played outside until it was dark with no fear of dangers or strangers. The polio vaccine came out when I was young and I remember every child being brought into the elementary school for the dose. We didn't have the fear of polio which the Kearns had, though it struck my aunt as it did Doris' sister.
Godwin's preoccupation with baseball did not interest me. Her stories about the bomb drills and storing of canned foods, neighbors knowing each other, helping each other and eventually moving to larger houses rang true. Her interest in the Mc Carthy Era, the Rosenberg Trial and even integrating schools was really before my time. Yet, things were so different, but exactly the same. I still have no interest in baseball and didn't even think of Jackie Robinson's contribution to the history and evolution of the U. S. until watching the fabulous movie, 42, this summer.
I selected this memoir because I liked watching Joyce Kearns Goodwin on tv, I was looking for a memoir, and it was very inexpensive on the Kindle. It did and didn't disappoint. The blurb made the book sound like it was going to go further than it did. Wait Til Next Year stopped when Goodwin was about 15, just mentioning that she had gone on to college and had become a historian.
If you're a baseball fan or interested in a way of life which is quickly becoming extinct, you'll probably enjoy this.