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Naples Florida Weekly Presents “Annals from the Attic”

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COURTESY PHOTO

A friend of mine, Kent Coyle, a Hoosier-born master carpenter and craftsman who has been working for a long time from the Midwest to Florida, once found stacks of old papers and notices within the attic of a house he restored. They date from the Nineteen Twenties to the Fifties.

Mr. Coyle has an archivist’s eye for arcana—for the revealing detail within the culture and life Americans share. So when no person wanted that yellowing treasure trove, he gathered and kept the old papers in good condition. And sooner or later, a long time later, he showed them to me.

Reading through them now, my first impression is humbling. I’m forced to acknowledge how little I do know except generally terms about the main points of my very own country, its people, and history. There’s nothing like a newspaper—the record of living history etched freshly for the time being it becomes history—to provide you a way of being there. And to indicate you something you didn’t know.

This United Press story out of Chicago, for instance, appears on the front page of an Indiana paper that also includes notices of Ku Klux Klan meetings, various community news items, and war news from Europe. It’s dated Aug. 14, 1945: “Satchel Paige Absent But Negro Classic Is Playing.”

Roger Williams

In about 10 seconds, the time it takes to read 105 words of copy, I learn that the nice baseball pitcher, Satchel Paige, probably suffered greater than just the racism that prevented him from playing in (white) major league baseball until 1948.

By that point, he was 42, and Donald Trump, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton were all 2-year-old baby boomers. Leroy “Satchel” Paige became the oldest rookie ever to play within the majors, due to the Cleveland Indians, who finally hired him out of the Negro League. Only the 12 months before, baseball great Jackie Robinson, 28, had began for the Brooklyn Dodgers as the primary African-American in major league baseball.

I knew that history, but not this history: In the summertime of 1945, Paige apparently tried to force the owners of baseball franchises that benefited from the East-West Negro Leagues games to fork over some money for the war relief effort. And failed.

“War relief” was the term for any contributions to numerous organizations that will help each Americans and others affected by the war.

Here’s the second of three paragraphs from that story: “Paige, star hurler of the Kansas City Monarchs, who has done a lot to spice up negro baseball to its present position, announced Aug. 1 that he would lead a 16-player walkout unless one hundred pc of the sport’s proceeds were turned over to war relief.”

The story also notes that 46,247 paying fans “jammed Comiskey Park to see the West win 7-

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