There was talk of a house on a bluff overlooking a lake. Not such a big deal. Some said it was the oldest house in the village, built over 100 years ago with such and such material and that wasn’t such a big deal either. People talked as far back as I can remember about a room beneath the basement in that house and most of them swear on their mother’s pumpkin soup that they had been there. What eeried me out was that most of their stories sounded the same.
The room was apparently at the bottom of a well. Most people said they bumped into a slide or some sort of chute and fell there rather than deciding to “do it.“ The house was old, 19th century old, and originally an Italian food and spice emporium with cannoli, pepperoni and all kinds of herbs stored in the basement. This would explain the chute since most boxes for deliveries were placed on a diagonal ladder or belt from the outside. The boxes would then slide down to a worker who arranged the stockroom.
But there was also a second chute that slid into this other room, beneath the basement. Down there, people swore there was a square wood cube about the size of a prison cell. It had a window too, they said, but it was on the other side and hard to reach because there wasn’t much space to walk around. They had to stiffen their back and straighten up like walking along the ledge of a building, but they did it.
At that point, they would sigh and say something like “good thing too because that was the only way out, up some steps, behind a door that didn’t look like a door from the other side. You had to be plush up against it to see it.“
Some said they peeked through that window before climbing up the steps to freedom. Others didn’t say a thing. But each and every one of them stopped the story right then and there. There were rumors about tombs, caskets, and mummies, but we were never sure and no one dared to find out, not yet anyway.
It was like NASA space exploration in reverse, into the ground, but generating the same kind of excitement and curiosity and wonder. Even the miserable and hateful took notice. It was like they were reborn or something. They typically whined like babies, disguising their whimp with a sophisticated, witty, and often times angry and deconstructing tongue. But with talk of the room reaching a sort of pennant fever, they hopped to the other side or so it sounded.
They were like smokers who no longer smoked, preaching against their yesterday beliefs. “It takes minutes to implode a building,“ they would say. “Anyone can lay down the dynamite and pull the lever, but to build, now that takes……….“
……1981………1981? Why not 1981 or any other jackknife incident in time, the end always right around the corner.
It was awful when the Baseball Strike really happened and on May 29, there were really no games. It was doomsday, a time to cry or criticize and deconstruct; a time to hate and be miserable and people did and were and still are and that`s ok, but something else happened too.
The Valley Times, outside of San Francisco got wind of four high school students using strat-o-matic baseball to replace the real thing. The newspaper proceeded to devote an entire page, almost every day to the strato-games with writers Ross McKeon and Gary Peterson writing summaries, providing fictional quotes from real players, discussing potential trades, and so on. Darrel Evans even guest managed his San Francisco Giants. There were 571 games played and there would have been more, but the strike ended and that other season continued.
And in the east, Jon Miller and Ken Coleman brought strat-o-matic to life on the air, on WITS Boston, pitch-by-pitch accounts of strat-o simulation with fan cheers and sounds of the game slipped into each broadcast.
The idea spread to Cleveland as well and a strat-o-matic all-star simulation was really played, at that belly of the whale Municipal Stadium. A card table was set up at home plate. The scoreboard was turned on. The Associated Press counted 58 diehards in attendance. And Sportsphone offered fans the opportunity to call up and hear 30 second updates about the game and many did………swim through the muck with a strat-o smile, that is.