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Authors: Steve Kluger

Tags: #Humour, #Adult, #Historical, #Young Adult

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BOOK: Last Days of Summer
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Mr. Charles Banks, NY Giant

c/o Third Base

The Polo Grounds

Coogans Bluff, NY

Dear Mr. Banks,

I am a 12 year old boy and I am dying of an incurable disease. It is a horrible one. I have had to spend most of my life in hospitals and in bed with high fevers and very white skin. This is because I have no more corpusles, which you may remember is what provides you with antibodies. I am also paralized. Sometimes I am racked by so much pain that I cry out in the night and say things like “Dear God. Dear God.”

The reason I am writing is because I read in a
magazene once where Babe Ruth visited a dying boy in a hospital, and although he provided him with an autograph which he had asked for, what the boy really wanted was for the Babe to hit one out for him. Well he did, and the Lukemia went away like that. You do not have to come and visit me, but I would appreciate it if you would hit one out. All you have to do is point to left field or wherever makes you comfortable and then say “This is for my friend Joey Margolis” (on the radio if possible) and then swing.

I hope you can do this soon because I don't think I will be around much longer.

Your friend,

Joey Margolis

Mr. Joseph Margolis

236 Montgomery Street

Brooklyn, New York

Dear Friend:

Many thanks for your letter and the kind words contained therein. I am enclosing my picture with the autograph you requested.

Keep on slugging.

Best wishes,

Charles Banks

Mr. Charles Banks, NY Giant

c/o Third Base

The Polo Grounds

Coogans Bluff, NY

Dear Mr. Banks,

I am a 12 year old boy and I am blind. This is a terrible thing. But I was not always blind. In the old days I used to be able to swim in the creek and build log cabins and greet each day like it was a new adventure, the way boys have done since the dawn of time. Then one day my eyes started to fill up with mucus and the sunshine went away forever.

The reason I am writing is because I read in this magazene where Lou Gehrig once visited this blind boy in a hospital and promised he would hit one out for him. And when he did, that boy (who had been listening on the radio) was heard to cry out “I can
see
! I can
see
!”

Mr. Banks, it would do me alot of good if you would hit one out for me the way Iron Horse did that other time. I would not even ask you to make a special trip to the plate for it. You can pick one you were going to hit out anyway and just say ahead of time (on the radio) “This is for my friend Joey Margolis.”

I must stop writing now. It is so very very dark.

Thank you.

Your friend,

Joey Margolis

Mr. Joseph Margolis

236 Montgomery Street

Brooklyn, New York

Dear Friend:

Many thanks for your letter and the kind words contained therein. I am enclosing my picture with the autograph you requested.

Keep on slugging.

Best wishes,

Charles Banks

I
NTERVIEWER:
Donald M. Weston, Ph.D.

S
UBJECT:
Joseph Charles Margolis

Q:
You didn't think it was going to work, did you?

A:
I was just warming up. This is a tough one. If I only knew where he lived.

Q:
Is that a new cut over your eye?

A:
Don't remember.

Q:
How did it happen?

A:
I fell in front of the “A” train. Can we look at some more baseball pictures?

Q:
Sure.

Q:
What do you see?

A:
A midget lying on his back with a hard-on.

Q:
Where did you learn to talk like that?

A:
“The Street, see? That's where I grew up. The Street. Now they're gunna make me swing for it.” Guess what? I live upstairs from the Green Hornet. He thinks I'm the Shadow. We send messages in code up and down the fire escape on heat-resistant string like in
Gangbusters
.

Q:
How come?

A:
Nazis take no prisoners.

Q:
That sounds pretty serious.

A:
You bet it is. Know that old lady who owns the clock store on Sullivan Street?

Q:
Mrs. Aubaugh?

A:
Don't turn your back on her. She's a saboteur.

Q:
She has a wooden leg!

A:
That's where she keeps the grenades. I tried to send a warning to the Hornet, but the string broke and it fell through the bars onto a German courier. Now they're wise to us.

Q:
Tell me about the inkblot.

A:
It's the flag pole.

Q:
Where?

A:
Over the Giants clubhouse in deep center. Me and Charlie always stand next to each other with our hats over our hearts when they play The Baseball Song.

Q:
“Take Me Out to the Ballgame”?

A:
“O Say Can You See.”

Q:
Where's your father?

A:
Over there. In the stands.

Q:
Is he rooting for the Giants?

A:
For Brooklyn.

Q:
Does that bother you?

A:
Only when he brings Nana Bert.

Q:
How often does he do that?

A:
Not since I hit her with a foul ball. It was Charlie's idea.

Q:
You don't like Nana Bert much, do you?

A:
She has long red fingernails. Aunt Carrie says with claws like that she could climb the Chrysler Building. My Dad is bringing her with us when he takes me to the World's Fair. Maybe the Trylon'll fall on her.

Q:
Have you ever been out of Brooklyn before?

A:
No. Afraid.

Q:
Of what?

A:
Smokes, what if I look back over my shoulder and turn into a pillar of salt? That's what happened to Lot's wife.

Q:
I remember.

A:
Then stop laughing. It isn't funny. When Charlie Banks takes me on a road trip with him—

Q:
Joey, listen to me. Charlie Banks doesn't even know who you are. And he's not going to take you on any road trip.

Bureau of Vital Statistics

964 Marquette Street

Racine, Wisconsin

Dear Bureau of Vital Statistics—

My name is Joseph Margolis Banks and I am eight years old and I am doing a project for my school where we have to draw our family tree. Since my father died last year and can't help me my teacher Mrs. Hicks told me I should write to you. The only thing I know is that his family came from Racine and I have a cousin named Charles who was born in 1917 and knew my dead father.

Please help me find him.

Very truly yours,

Joseph Margolis Banks

Mr. Joseph Margolis Banks

236 Montgomery Street

Brooklyn, New York

Dear Joseph:

Thank you for your letter. I am glad that your teacher told you to write to us, so that we can help you learn to use the friendly services provided to you by our government. I was surprised to find out that you are only eight years old, because we usually hear from older boys and girls!

Most of the time, we need to know a little bit more about your family before we can help you—such as your father's first name, which you forgot to give us. There are many Banks families in Racine, but I am happy to tell you that only one of them had a Charles born in 1917. (By the way, our records show that your father Herbert is still alive, but since receiving your letter we have changed that. We've also added your name to his family. You see? Sometimes you can help us as much as we help you!)

Charles lives at 615 Riverside Drive, New York, New York, which practically makes you neighbors! I believe that he is some sort of an athlete, so you can be very proud of him. You and he still have a Cousin Ivy, who recently moved to Des Moines; Charles also had an older brother named Harlan, who died of a concussion seven years ago. I am so sorry.

I am enclosing your full family tree, and hope that it helps you to get good marks in school!

Sincerely,

Elsie McKeever

Archivist

I
NTERVIEWER:
Donald M. Weston, Ph.D.

S
UBJECT:
Joseph Charles Margolis

Q:
Oh, my God. This is mail fraud!

A:
You haven't heard the half of it yet. I also found out that he gets his hair cut at a place called Popo's and he drives a Reo with a radio in it and he can almost play “In the Mood” on the alto sax and Harlan used to call him Chucky. Elsie McKeever's a lousy security risk. Can I have an inkblot?

Q:
You know, if you were seven years older they could put you in jail!

A:
But you'd get me off, wouldn't you? You're my mouthpiece.

Q:
Joey, how long do you think you can get away with this?

A:
Until Charlie takes me on a road trip with him.

Q:
I see.

A:
You don't believe me, do you?

Q:
Why don't we look at some inkblots?

A:
Forget it. I'll ask the Green Hornet.

Teacher's Comments:

Joseph remains a challenging student. While I appreciate his creativity, I am sure you will agree that a classroom is an inappropriate forum for a reckless imagination. There is not a shred of evidence to support his claim that Dolley Madison was a Lesbian, and even fewer grounds to explain why he even knows what the word means. Similarly, an analysis of the Constitutional Convention does not generate sufficient cause to initiate a two-hour classroom debate on what types of automobiles the Founding Fathers would have driven were they alive today. When asked on a subsequent examination, “What did Benjamin Franklin use to discover electricity?” eleven children responded, “A Packard convertible.” I trust you see my problem.

Finally, there is the matter of Joseph's growing infatuation with Rachel Panitz. Though I have nothing against puppy love, per se, he is at an age when boys tend to hide feelings of romantic attachment behind acts of overt hostility. In short, I am unable to stop him from throwing things at her, such as erasers, paper clips, fountain pens, and lightweight textbooks. Frankly, I haven't heard of anyone's being shelled that badly since the Germans attacked Gallipoli. Perhaps you can have a word with him in this regard.

Janet Hicks

Parents' Comments:

As usual, I am very proud of Joey's grades. I too was unaware that Dolley Madison was a Lesbian. I assumed they were all Protestants.

Thank you for writing.

Ida Margolis

BOOK: Last Days of Summer
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ads

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