Note about the song: “That Lucky Old Sun”, as sung by Frankie Laine in 1949, might help to sum up the life this sixteen-year-old high school kid (me) was enjoying at the time. Like many teenage boys, I had this ability to misinterpret almost anything in print or the lyrics of that day’s best-selling recording as a service for my own personal edification. And as a living example, music served my mystification of almost everything bouncing my way.
“That Lucky Old Sun” lyrics:
Up in the mornin’
Out on the job
Work like the devil for my pay
But that lucky old sun got nothin’ to do
But roll around heaven all day
Rolling around Heaven All Day
When sixteen-year-old Harvey Kalmenson awoke each and every school day, he put on his Levi’s, a clean white shirt, slipped his feet into a pair of blue suede shoes, and, of course, in order to top off his leading man existence, his pride of achievement, Dorsey High School’s letterman sweater. It was the spring semester, and time for baseball. Like the song depicts, I was the “son” rising each morning—the difference being: without a care in the world!
None of my schoolwork was ever a burden. What a life… I cared about baseball, and not much else, certainly not thinking about anything like the downer lyrics being sung by some poor bastard who happened to be struggling through life. My only struggle was a minor one at best. The school wasn’t just around the corner—I hitchhiked to get there every day, both ways; some people referred to it as “thumbing, or hitching a ride”.
Baseball, and working my body until I was ready to drop, was the name of my game; it was my reason for living. By the time I got home at the end of an extremely rigorous day, there wasn’t time left for anything other than falling asleep. The only downer with regard to my dedication towards a career in baseball was the attitude of most of my buddies. Going out at night or on the weekends with friends wasn’t on my agenda.
The next two years of my life zipped by. There wasn’t a bump in the road. Hitch-hiking to school had become effortless. Folks love being associated with young athletes. Our high school baseball team had become well-known; we were the Los Angeles city champions. It was my senior year; our team established a national high school baseball record for consecutive wins at thirty-four straight.
In my final appearance as a baseball player for Dorsey High School, it was to be the high point of my term as a student-athlete. And little did I know or understand, my life’s road was about to become a somewhat bumpy road adventure. The strange thing they call mortality, I was about to experience my own.
….And one more thing learned along my way—actually two.
Question: Two things easily remembered and almost impossible to forget?
Answer: Winning and losing!