Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Field of Dreams and Memories

I was born in Cleveland in 1952 , a year in which the Tribe--as the Cleveland Indians were called--had the best starting rotation in baseball, three of whom would become future Hall of Famers. My parents must have been baseball fans because they named the four teddy bears in my crib after those four pitchers. my favorite being a black white bear with skinny arms and legs called Feller.

Bob Feller was a famous fireballer with a classic story of heart and heroism. His roots were middle America, a small town Southwest of Ames Iowa.

Iowa is also where the film Field of Dreams takes place. The movie, starring Kevin Costner, was based on the novel Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella. 

* * * 

Recent events brought to mind this memory from the first year after we moved to Duluth in 1986. I'd landed my first full time job as a writer. My boss, himself an excellent writer, introduced me to another writer friend and the three of us--Terry, Art and I--attended several monthly readings by authors flown into town by a prof in the lit department of UMD. One of these notables was W.P. Kinsella.

Kinsella began by describing his childhood and how he came to be a writer. He said that his family lived in a remote area in Canada Northwest of here. It was so remote, in fact, the the nearest family with children was a hundred miles away and he was, if memory serves me well, an only child. This led to his developing the fertile imagination which produced his literary career as a storyteller.

You may recall that the lead character in Field of Dreams, played by Costner, is an Iowa farmer named Ray Kinsella. It's a character who is misunderstood, and in some ways a product of the Sixties, which left a lot of us misunderstood. The following conversation between Ray and his wife Annie (Amy Madigan) is part of the story's setup.

Ray Kinsella: I think I know what "If you build it, he will come" means.

Annie Kinsella: Ooh... why do I not think this is such a good thing?

Ray Kinsella: I think it means that if I build a baseball field out there that Shoeless Joe Jackson will get to come back and play ball again.

Annie Kinsella: [staring in disbelief] You're kidding.

Ray Kinsella: Huh-uh.

Annie Kinsella: Wow.

Ray Kinsella: Yeah.

Annie Kinsella: Ha. You're kidding.

James Earl Jones, Ray Liotta and Burt Lancaster, in his final screen performance, are also part of this saga that echoes the magical realism of Jorge Luis Borges, one of my all-time favorite authors.

All this is just an excuse to share some photos from the Field of Dreams location in Iowa that was created for this movie. And maybe an excuse to take a trip down memory lane.

Photos courtesy Gary Firstenburg

Here's a link to his website. Ye shall be impressed.

My short volume of stories titled Unremembered Histories falls into this genre of supra-normal, magical realism. Subtitled Six Stories with a Supernatural Twist, you can find it here on Amazon.

TRIVIA: If I were ever to have my stories turned into an audio book, I would have James Earl Jones be the one to read it. I just love that deep baritone vibe. Thank you, Mr. Jones, for your contribution toward make this film a very special experience.

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