An Old Scrapbook Inside a WallWithout question, my Grandmother was the most die-hard Chicago White Sox fan ever. Though nearly all of my aunts, uncles and cousins are fanatics, their passion for the south siders still pales in comparison. She would sit front and center in front of the television whenever the Sox played. If the White Sox were winning, she was an easy-going old lady. If they were losing, she would punish her chair with the rolled up newspaper that was conveniently positioned at her side. She was able to convince my cousins that the White Sox were the proper choice. The Cubs were evil incarnate. Despite her best efforts, I never wavered. I was a Cubs fan from day one. Somehow, I was still welcome at 321 Fullerton Avenue.
I always found it odd that my Grandmother, who grew up blocks away from Wrigley Field on Chicago's north side, was an adamant White Sox fan. She was south side Irish through and through, only with a north side address. Apparently, this wasn't always the case.
One summer day during college, I stopped by my Grandparents' house in suburban Northlake for lunch. My Grandfather was out and about running errands, so my Grandmother and I flipped through the channels looking for a baseball game. The Cubs had an early start that day, so we left it on WGN. I remember saying something along the lines of, "Sorry to make a Sox fan watch a Cubs game at her house." I braced myself for one of her sarcastic remarks, but that wasn't that case.
"You know, I wasn't always a White Sox fan," she said.
Perhaps I was dreaming, or it was a late April Fools joke. It was strange, but I felt like an adult learning there's no Santa Claus or an Easter Bunny. Stop the presses, this was breaking news. A long time ago, she told me that she worked in a clerical position for a Chicago newspaper before getting married. Her boss gave her tickets to see a World Series game at Wrigley Field in the 1930s, but I never assumed she was an actual fan of the team.
She proceeded to tell me that she once dated a player on the Cubs. Unfortunately, either she didn't tell me his name, or it completely slipped away from me. She continued to tell me that the player told her he didn't want to get married because he was interested in pursuing a different lifestyle. They immediately ended their relationship. Athletes have always projected burly stereotypes, but back then, it was even more the case. Apparently, the player asked her never to mention his news to anyone. She promised. Perhaps that's why she didn't tell me his name. If that was the case, she certainly kept that promise. She told me that was the day she became a White Sox fan.
Eventually both of my Grandparents died. My Grandmother in 1993, and my Grandfather in 2000. In September 2000, just weeks after my baseball trip concluded, my Mom and her sisters sold my Grandparents' house. About one year later, the new family contacted their realtor. Apparently, they were working on a few home improvement projects and found something. It was a small photo album tucked away inside a wall upstairs. Seeing my Grandparents built that house in 1950, they were the only family to live there prior to the new owners. The realtor was a friend of my aunt, so the discovery was given to her. After careful consideration, the album was given to me.
The photo album was more of a scrapbook. There were a few unmarked family photos on the first couple of pages, but the final pages were the reason it was passed along to me. Apparently, my Grandmother kept a scrapbook of Cubs photos clipped from the newspaper. After a bit of research, it appears that these photos were of the 1932 Chicago Cubs. The Cubs won the National League pennant that season, only to be swept by the New York Yankees in the World Series. That World Series featured Babe Ruth's alleged "Called Shot" off pitcher Charlie Root.
Ever since I've been in possession of these photos, I've wondered if the player my Grandmother dated was one of them. Guess I'll never know.