Chapter 9: Batter up
“Dad, can you take me to the batting cage?” “Again? Frankie, that’s the third time this week.” “Yeah, I know, but next week we start softball in gym class. I gotta be ready!”
Bad hair day
Frankie’s dad ruffled his hair as he walked by the breakfast table, “Get’n a little long there kid.” A flat spot on one side from sleeping on a wet head, Frankie pushed aside the curls so he could see his Fruit Loops.
Both hands gripping the wheelbarrow, sleep still thick in his head, Frankie twisted to wipe an eye on his sleeve. Never excited about getting up early on a Saturday morning, but for a new bicycle, right now he’d do just about anything.
“FRANCIS, get down here!” After three times of asking nicely, Annette, Frankie’s mom, deferred to his father to get him downstairs for breakfast. “What’s wrong honey?” she asked as he plopped down next to his younger brother. “I hate school,” Frankie pouted.
There has been some good news lately involving dairy and the local economy. New York was recently named the top yogurt producer in the nation. This is the second year our state has earned this distinction, in large part due to the Greek yogurt producers who call New York home. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, New York produced 741 million pounds of yogurt, up from 695 million pounds in 2012. New York also accounted for 15.7 percent of the total U.S. yogurt production in 2013.
I need your help to make bail. No, not that kind of bail. I’ve never been arrested. But I am going to “jail.” I’ve been recruited to help the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) with their annual Lock-Up fundraiser. Such events occur nationwide all year long. Business owners and community leaders (and, apparently, weekly newspaper reporters) agree to be “put behind bars for good.” We’re asked to raise money from friends, family, co-workers and, in your case, readers to help make “bail,” which will then benefit the MDA’s research, medical clinics and summer camp experiences.
My opinion of the New York Safe Ammunition and Firearms Act (SAFE-ACT) is as follows: Lawmakers feel desperate to do something in the wake of violence in American schools and American society in general. I get it. The next time something horrible happens in an American school or workplace, the lawmakers can say they were trying, we have a new law and it will help. It’s not that their hearts are in the wrong place, they have children and families they worry about, too. It’s their reasoning and intellect that is not in the right place.
Shifty’s Bar, off of Burnet Avenue, is a beloved Syracuse institution. Opened in 1969, it boasts live music five nights a week, award-winning chicken wings and has garnered a loyal following. Shifty’s checks off many of the dive bar conventions along with some more premium accoutrements.
The color of envy
Frankie wiped the grease off an open end wrench before dropping it in the toolbox. He’d catch the dickens if his father found any of his tools dirty. With the tool box back in its proper place in the basement, he was ready to give his hodge-podge of a bicycle another try.
“FRANCIS, RONNIE, GET IN HERE!” Frankie’s father yelled out the front door. The two kids were taking their sweet time wandering over from Scrawny’s house. When they finally walked through the door, inside Frankie’s parents were sitting in the living room looking as though they were ready to chew them out for something or other. For the life of him, Frankie couldn’t figure what they had done wrong.
Stein’s, located in Camillus, is a bit of a mixed bag of successes and shortfalls.
Paulette kicked a pine cone down the wooded path along the river. This was the shortcut to her best friend’s house. Rita the redhead lived on the wrong side of the tracks in one of the ramshackle shanties on the thin strip of land between the banks of the river and the railroad tracks. Paulette, Frankie and Scrawny Ronnie’s neighborhood wasn’t exactly upscale either; the big expensive McMansions were on the other side of the river.
It’s 6:30 a.m. Aside from the clicking sound my keyboard makes when I type, the house is quiet. A different quiet than it was just a half a year ago. Then, it was just my husband and me. Now, there are four of us. Our son, who is 6, and our daughter, 12, have another hour of sleep before they have to wake up for school. The morning will become brighter.
“Yo Scrawny, get the net, I got a big one!” “You’re stuck on the bottom.” Ronnie dropped the net and picked up his fishing pole. Frankie shot a disgusted look at his friend as he stretched for the net, giving up when he realized there was nothing tugging on the other end of his line. Scrawny Ronnie laughed when he pulled up a water logged stick covered in scum from the bottom of the river. Fresh out of bait, Frankie dropped his poll and started kicking over rocks in search of worms.
Library use has increased across the state. According to some of New York State Library’s latest statistics, visits to public libraries increased by seven million from 113 million to 120 million from 2007 to 2009. The number of items borrowed — books, ebooks, movies, magazines and more — has increased by more than 11 percent.