Last week, when I opened a bottle of Rubber Cement to help my twins glue their science display boards together, I was immediately swept back to the day I fell in love with Jackie Robinson.
Think about it. Every memory we have is locked up somewhere inside bottles of Old Spice or jars of nutmeg or cinnamon or in a diaper pail or your grandparents new Subaru.
My question is why haven't the children's book authors tapped into this mystery? Doesn't it make more sense to use a magical pack of Big Red gum or some enchanted Bubblicious lip gloss to transport their characters to another land rather than a school bus or a tree house?
For me my love affair with Jackie Robinson will always live like a jeanie in a bottle of Rubber Cement. This is because my twelve year old son and I spent the better part of 6 months together working on his History Day project inhaling massive amounts of it. Everything we felt, thought about and learned has been recorded in that smell.
Three times my son reconstructed his board as he made it to the district, state, then national History Day Competition in Washington D. C. It was a magic carpet ride fueled by gallons of Rubber Cement.
Here we are in Washington D.C. under the influence of Jackie Robinson and Rubber Cement.
NOTE: This post is a clue for those of you who really want to know what I spent $100 on last week. (wink wink).
My son is a collector (of baseball cards, which are carefully stacked and organized in boxes and binders at the bottom of his closet.) He purchased 4 Jackie Robinson baseball cards from e-bay for his History Day display. But they were knock-offs--only worth a few dollars. He also found and purchased a rare 1946 edition of Baseball Digest which had an interview with Jackie Robinson right after he signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
I got serious chicken skin when I read Robinson's words predicting that race wouldn't be an issue for the world when he stepped onto the field as the first black baseball player in the major leagues.
I wanted to yell across time and space, past disco and Elvis and the red scare and say, "Jackie, don't do it! I mean do it! Do it because you're about to do more for racial integration than even Martin Luther King, Jr. In fact, you're the one who is going to inspire Martin Luther King, Jr., so do it! But don't do it! It's going to be horrible. You're going to have to face the cruelest racial hatred imaginable. But do it, because then I will fall in love with you and I will get tingles every time I open a bottle of Rubber Cement."
My son spent $45.00 on that magazine. Then it was stolen from his display during the competition, along with his baseball cards and his process papers.
Devastating, YES. But he won 5th place and $500, so he got over it.
One of the cutest memories locked in that bottle of Rubber Cement was my son's first attempt at choosing a title for his project. A good family friend was over for dinner and none of us had any earthly idea how far he could ride on Jackie Robinson's coat tails. Our friend suggested, "Jackie Robinson . . . Didn't He Sell Ice Cream?"
My son, being the other pea in my pod, thought it was stinkin' hilarious. I did too. And anyway, who cares about serious history projects in 6th grade? I told him to go for it if he really wanted it.
And he really wanted it. For days he cracked himself up by saying it over and over and over.
"Jackie Robinson . . . didn't he sell ice cream?" hahahahahahahahahaha.
(You guys get it right? OF COURSE he didn't sell ice cream because he is the most important black man in the history of the world. DON'T even think about debating this point with me.)
This was me after he presented his project at school:
"Did anyone laugh? Did they? Did they? Did they? Did they? Did they? Did they?"
"No," he said, "I don't think they knew who Jackie Robinson was."
"What about your teacher? Did your teacher laugh?"
(Teachers these days have NO sense of humor.)
After he was chosen to go on to the district competition one of the judges suggested he change his title.
(Judges these days have NO sense of humor.)
It was with great restraint that he buckled down, got serious and put that stinkin' hee-larious title to rest.
So that's why I laughed so hard when Swirl thought I bought my son a Jackie Robinson Ice Cream Maker for Christmas.
She was on the right track, and believe me Swirl, if there was a Jackie Robinson ice cream maker out there, I would buy it.
So without coming out and saying exactly what I bought my son . . . let me just say it's old. And it's rare. And it valuable. And it's sentimental. It's not useful or cuddly or practical or fun. And yet I was so enthusiastic when I saw it that the sales guy at the specialty shop sold it to me for $90.
I can hardly wait for Christmas!!!!!!!
But I've taken up far too much of your time telling you why Jackie Robinson didn't sell ice cream that I didn't get to bear my testimony about the time I prayed to him and he actually answered me.
That will have to wait until tomorrow.