Monday, May 29, 2017

Willie and Joe, Boots, Jackie, and Stormy



Willie And Joe,
Or Wartime Lament


Something for my words
to finish and ooze between
like mud and your toes,
like slime and mine too...
...
I've busted through the wood frame
of an old dry hole

but I've caught a root
stuck out from one side, red faced
from the effort yanked
out of my left arm,
my scraped up dislocated
fingers... I can't hold
very much longer,
and I am afraid, Willie.
...
Joe, I fear what comes
gonna blow me up -
the bullet with my damn name -
even that boat home -
and in the long haul,

I must be giving up all
hope of having a
better past than this.

‎May ‎27, ‎2017 5:01 AM
Completed May 28, 2017 5:54 AM

Willie and Joe were World War II cartoon characters drawn by Bill Mauldin, part of his war correspondance and drawn from his experiences in Africa and Europe primarily. He drew these cartoons from 1940 until 1946 and occasionally added additional drawings until 1998.

I met Willie and Joe in a cartoon anthology my Dad kept in the back room of his Grandma's house that was once the bedroom he shared with his brother before the war. That was in Montalvo, California, a wide spot in the road south of Ventura, where the family settled when they migrated from Oklahoma in the Dust Bowl years.

My Dad was old enough to catch the end of World War II in the Pacific, serving in the Marines during the Okinawa campaign and later in China. After the war he entered college at the University of California at Berkeley and played football for the Golden Bears primarily as a center on offense and linebacker on defence. He was part of Pappy Waldorf's championship teams and played in the Rose Bowl, along with other notables, including Boots Erb and most famously, Jackie Jensen. At times, my Dad, Stormy Hileman, was center, Boots was quarterback right behind him, with Jackie receiving the hand off in the backfield.

Jensen went on to an illustrious career in the Bigs, playing Right Field and batting third or clean up with the Boston Red Sox to take advantage of his on base abilities. Jensen led the American League in various years in runs batted in, stolen bases, and in triples. Jensen also fielded so well that he led his league in double plays and assists. For a right fielder a double play consists most usually of catching the fly and then throwing out a base runner as well, which requires unusual throwing speed, distance and accuracy. The reason Jensen is not better known is that his career was cut short as Major League baseball expanded into additional west coast teams while depending more on flying to maintain the schedule. Jensen suffered from an intense fear of flying which he never could overcome. That forced him to retire early.

In my growing up years, we would travel to Oakland and dine at the Bow and Bell Restaurant in Jack London Square, owned by Boots and Jackie. We rarely saw Jackie there but Boots was nearly always present.

Jack London Square
Above is Jackie Jensen and below, Boots Erb. Boots' first name was Charles but everyone called him Boots.

1 comment:

The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.


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