“Because You Asked…”
From the mouth of a former student after completing his Working Pro class — six weeks with Cathy Kalmenson — during our Q & A. The student raised his hand and proceeded with what he thought was an important question of me: “Da harv, how did you get the name ‘da harv’?”
For years now, I often get questions about my nickname: “da harv”. Hopefully, this will be the last time I answer in written form. It all began as a joke by me about thirty years ago. Please forgive me if I don’t recall exactly the day or time of day it took place and shape.
CHICAGO, CHRISTMAS TIME, APPROX. 1993
A FAMILY GATHERING AT ONE OF CATHY’S RELATIVE’S HOMES — USUALLY AN AUNT, UNCLE, OR COUSIN HOSTING THE EVENT.
It was during a short smoking break, outdoors, where a few of us gathered for a quick few puffs before freezing to death in the snow and cold of a typical Chicago winter storm. I was particularly enamored by the way Chicago people refer to things when they talk about their favorite sports teams. Like da Bears, da Bulls, da Cubs, da Hawks.
It was Cathy’s uncle, Chuck, while in a sports conversation with me, referred to his favorite two teams as “da Bears and da Bulls”. I, in turn, found myself in a friendly conversation referring to him as “Cathy’s favorite Uncle Chucky”. To this, he quickly replied, “My name is Chuck!” “Okay”, I replied, “and you can call me da harv!” Let da games begin. And so they did.
When Cathy and I returned to Los Angeles, I mistakenly used the nickname during a conversation with an actor who was in for me to direct during a session. It turned out he had heard my nickname from a friend in Chicago during a phone conversation. I would have to say Chicagoans are good, if not great, conversationalists. They love to talk about almost anything with almost anyone.
Following last week’s Sunday post, many of you wanted to know about the three films I mentioned that influenced my life at a very early age. Beginning as a child six years of age, I accompanied and was almost always instigated by my father. Please take note, the films I have listed for you are not necessarily in the correct chronological order as the date they were actually released (i.e. “The Wizard of Oz” was released in 1939).
“THE WIZARD OF OZ”(1939)
Da harv was six. My dad and I saw the film together at least three times. It was as if we were the same age —singing, dancing, astonished, and totally mesmerized. My dad, a man who came to this wonderland country of ours as a two-year-old immigrant, now seeking the sights and sounds while enjoying his human adult emergence with me as father and son. I didn’t know it then, but by God, I know it now, we were becoming lifelong pals.
Starring James Cagney & Virginia Mayo
My dad loved James Cagney because of his tougher-than-life portrayals. Somehow, someway, he identified with the gangster side of this bigger-than-life actor whom many critics knew as “the diminutive one”. Cagney was actually one of the most famous short actors in the business; he stood five-four-and-one-half inches tall. My dad was five foot five. I, on the other hand, loved Virginia Mayo. At the time, I had turned sixteen, and believe me when I say a gal like Virginia would have been enough to make this kid give up baseball.
“THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES” (1942)
Starring Gary Cooper
For what it’s worth, I was far too young to have seen Lou Gehrig play the game I grew to love. What I did get to see and share with my father was the effect the movie had on my dad as a man. Lou Gehrig and Charles Kalmenson were about the same age. I believe there was a six-month gap between them.
I guess what emotionally got to us the most was Lou’s farewell speech during his final day at Yankee Stadium. We’ve included it below for your listening pleasure.
And, of course, my favorite Yankees picture:
The Pride of the Yankees, 1942. FROM EVERETT COLLECTION.
They were number three and number four in the Yankees lineup. Can you guess their names?