Because of Rachel
The Hippie Generation in America
Alan Bryce Grossman
Set in the tumultuous days of the pinnacle of the hippie, anti-war culture that was late 1960s America, “Because of Rachel” highlights the challenges of a young man navigating his way into adulthood. Will Stanford is that young man from Chicago. When Will’s carefree life as a teenager gives way to reality as a young adult, Will realizes that he has not prepared himself to tackle his future. It is at this time that Glory Walters enters his life. The sparks that flow predictably find Will thrust into domestic life as a husband and young father. When life presses its challenges onto Will’s attempt to take a foothold, he makes a decision that pulls him to places and encounters that Will never dreamed were possible.
Book Excerpt or Article
By the time Will followed Glory's directions to Teri's house to pick her up for the game, Teri's leadership in the local SDS chapter was in full swing. As Teri opened the door, the smell of marijuana drifted to Will, in harmony with the music of The Doors playing on the stereo.
“You must be Will,” Teri said as she stepped back from the open door. Teri was wearing a full-length tie-dyed dress, her hair crowned with a single row of braided pink and yellow peonies.
Will reached out his hand in a formal greeting. Teri ignored the gesture, reached her arms around Will’s neck, and pulled him into a hug. Separating, she called out to the room full of people, “Hey everybody. This is Will. He’s come to help. Will this is everybody." Teri looked at Will and winked at him. The announcement was met with a chorus of "thank you”s, with a smattering of “groovy” and “far out.”
Glory emerged from the side of the room, wearing jeans and a t-shirt with the Cubs’ logo. She added her own voice. “He’s here for me,” she declared, to oohs and aahs from the group which Glory could not decide if the sentiments were attempts at sarcasm or acknowledgment of the physical presence that always preceded Will.
Will whispered to Glory, following a quick hug, "We don't have much time. Why did you tell her that I am here to help?"
They held hands, and Glory responded to Will. "I don't ever know what she'll say. Let's show her and make a poster. Something positive."
Glory led him to a spot on the floor. She grabbed a poster board and some markers and handed one to Will as she urged him to sit with her.
“What are we gonna write?” Will asked.
"I don't know... maybe you can come up with something." Glory was handed a joint, took a hit, and passed it to Will, who did the same. They sat together discussing the message they wanted to write. The music stopped, and off to the side of the room, a man with straight hair hanging past his shoulder blades, wearing a leather vest with fringes hanging down and no shirt, started playing a guitar and singing. Glory took another hit. Will declined.
“I know this song,” Will said. “Give me a minute.”
"You like Bob Dylan?" Glory asked, leaning over the poster board and drawing letters in purple ink.
“This is not Dylan. Phil Ochs. I picked up his album. Great songs. That guy singing, do you know him? He’s pretty good.”
"That's Garfield. A music major, as you might guess. But unfortunately, he's heading back to Indiana soon, so you'll have to soak in his music now before he leaves."
“Hey, Glory. Don’t her parents mind what’s going on here?”
“No. They’re very cool. That’s why we can do this here. Not many of the over thirty crowd support what we’re doing, even if they agree with our position.”
Will rolled the marker in his hands while Glory finished her work on the poster. Will stood and followed. "That's it, guys,” Glory said. “We gotta go. Can someone tell Teri we left, and I'll call her tonight?"
Yuna stood up and walked over to Glory and Will. “Hi, Will. I’m Yuna.” She shook Will’s hand.
“Hello,” Will replied.
Yuna said, "I think she's outside with Oran, working on the arrangements for Saturday. Will, are you coming with us? We don’t have enough cars? Can you can be a driver?. You have a car, right?"
Will looked at Yuna, who barely came up to Will’s chin, giving Will a better view of the shine of Yuna’s black hair. “I guess,” Will answered. “What are we doing?”
"I'll fill him in," Glory interjected. She turned past them and took a blue Cubs baseball cap with the red "C" and a worn baseball glove from a table near the front door. Will joined her and reached for the glove. "Mine's in the car. I never would've thought that you‘d bring one too. Far out. Is it yours?”
“Like I told you, I have three brothers. What do you think?”
"Between the two of us, we have to catch at least one foul ball," Will said, handing the glove back to Glory. "I've tried, but I only got close once in all the games I've been to."
"It's my karma, I think,” Glory said. “I have a few, but the very first one I caught I gave to my cousin. He was seven, and I was already a teen, but that's what you do, right? Let's get going. The lot at the Ridgeland station could be crowded already."
Together they walked to Will’s car. “This is great,” Glory said.
"No, I mean it. I love these older cars. And like you said, if the engine is smooth, there's nothing that a good paint job and a better seamstress couldn't fix."
Will opened her door. “You’re serious,” Will said.
“Serious as my mother. Oh, but you haven’t met her yet.”
Will peered at Glory in the seat, shrugged, and eased the door closed. In typical fashion, his door required the heavy prompting of Will's foot. Getting in the car, Will noticed that Glory did not laugh but merely watched. Then she said, "Well, maybe a mechanical fix or two."
On the ride to the subway station, Will looked over at Glory with her hat perched on her head. He alternated between his views of the road and that of her hat. He had to take a closer look. “Is that a real hat?”
“Of course, it's a hat. It's on my head, isn't it?"
"That's not what I... You're sassin’ me?”
“I know. It’s fun, huh?”
“Well... Anyway, let me see it.”
She handed the cap to him. An inscription was written on the inside of the visor: “To Glory, keep the magic. Ron Santo.”
“You know Santo?”
"My dad does. In the off-season he sells insurance. Dad's been his client for a couple of years. Groovy guy."
"And fun to watch," Will said. "They all are. What a team, right? This is going to be good. Plus, we can watch the Willies at work too."
"I've discussed this with my dad, you know. He says Willie Mays is the greatest player ever. I don't know why he says that. Look at Ty Cobb, Lou Gehrig, and Babe Ruth. Now there's something special about him. There was, I mean. A top pitcher and then the greatest home run hitter this game will ever know. Plus, how can he ignore Ernie Banks. I mean, c'mon. It's Ernie."
“Yeah, and sweet swingin’ Billy Williams. I copied my swing after him. Smooth and always in control.”
“So we will probably never agree,” Glory said. Will glanced over at her. “I don’t mean you and me,” she continued. “Pop is enamored of Willie. Plus, he's still upset that the Giants left for the left coast. He loved the competition. The Giants don't come to Wrigley as often."
“You know today’s starters, then?”
“And do you?” she asked.
"Nope. Thought I'd let you tell me, how you read the newspaper and all."
Will kept his focus on the road, his stoicism answering her question.
"I do know," Glory said. "You probably never heard of him. Bill Stoneman. He's actually a local kid from Oak Park, but he grew up in L.A., I think. Durocher gave him his first appearance against the Giants last week in San Francisco, and he did pretty good. So now he gets the start. We'll see. But up against those guys for his sophomore outing... I don't know."
“You know a lot about the game, I see. Very impressive.”
“Thanks, Will. What’s not to love about the Cubbies.”
The Ridgeland station was crowded as Glory predicted. The plethora of Cubs shirts and hats and pennants rendered the subway car as a rolling advertisement for the Cubs. After transferring to the Red Line, they exited at Addison Street at the southeast corner nearest Wrigley Field, closest to the right-field corner. Glory and Will joined the teeming crowd down the stairs from the elevated platform and walked along Addison. With Wrigley Field on their right, they aimed for the main entrance. Closing into the entry, Will pulled Glory away from the stadium.
“What’s up, Will?” Glory asked.
“Let’s step back and take a look. I’ll explain in a minute.”
They walked toward the center in line with the main entrance and crossed the street. On the sidewalk, the entire facade of the stadium stood before them, ranging to the left and to the right, the light sand color of the cement walls offering a bland presence. The only color came from the red of the old sign, welcoming them to "Wrigley Field Home of the Chicago Cubs” in curved lettering as a reminder of the early days of Chicago Cubs baseball.
“What Santo wrote on your hat gave me an idea,” Will said. “The magic of this place.”
“I get it.”
“Probably you do. See how gray it all looks. Not just the stadium walls, but the street, the buildings.”
“Sure. But there’s color. Look at all the Cubs blue walking by.”
“Right. But when we walk in, let’s remember the grayness outside.”
“As you say, boss.”
They bought Will's ticket and entered through the turnstile. Inside, the lower level was jammed with people going in two directions. The smells mixed together – popcorn, hot dogs smothered Chicago style with grilled onions and sauerkraut, spilt beer, and the aroma emanating from the mass of humans gathering together. They felt the buzz in the air that joins the fans in celebrating their team and the excitement of being at the ballpark. They passed a small, hand-made wooden counter painted in blue, with a line of people, mostly kids, stretching through the crowd. Behind the small counter were three players in full uniform greeting the fans and signing autographs.
"I love that they do that," Will said. "It's too late today, but when Mom used to bring me, we'd get here early, and I get to meet the players."
“Yeah,” Glory said. “That’s Culp. Yesterday’s starter against the Braves. And Don Kessinger. What a great shortstop.”
“I met him. Super cool. And if Hundley’s not behind the plate...”
“...I’d rather not watch,” Glory finished for him. “Not exactly correct, but I feel the same.”
When they found the ramp leading up to their section, Will again pulled Glory away from the ramp to lean against the far wall. "So here’s what I was saying,” Will said. “This is the super cool part, given how dark it is under here. When we get up the ramp, into the sunlight, don’t rush.”
“Oh, I know what you're saying. Let's do this."
Glory pulled Will by the hand, and they worked their way through the crowd and up the ramp. At the top, they stopped and showed the usher their tickets. The organist playing the Beatles' All You Need Is Love filled the charged atmosphere. They then took two more steps and stopped again. There, the sparkle of the Kelly green of the Wrigley Field diamond and outfield turf spread out before them, an image of what the Emerald City of Oz would be if it were horizontal. The pitcher's mound sat nestled in the center of the infield grass. The brown dirt of the infield contrasted with the brightness of the green lawn surrounding it. Past the outfield, rising up along the wall curving at the edge of the outfield grass, the green leaves of the thick ivy hid the red brick of the outfield walls, with the cut-outs expertly highlighting the white block numbers showing the distance in feet from home plate to the wall. The manual scoreboard, the crown of the stadium, stood perched atop the center field bleachers, green with the white and yellow lettering and numbers, displaying the game status and the scores of all the games that day. The centerfield flag was blowing in, predicting a pitcher's duel. Halfway down the flagpole, as on a sailboat mast, the scorekeeper hung the blue "L" flag from yesterday's loss to Atlanta. Around the stadium, the seats were filling for a sold-out Ladies’ Day crowd.
“This is a wonder,” Glory said.
Will let out a low whistle in agreement. “I love this place. I’ve felt only magic every time I come here.”
They climbed up to their seats as the grounds crew completed hosing down the infield dirt and inserted the reflective white bases in their spots. They settled into their seats as the public address announcer announced the starting lineups. Will opened his scorecard and, with the short pencil that came with it, followed along and wrote in the lineups.
“You keep score?” Glory asked.
“Every game. I’ve got a whole stack of these at home.”
“Well, you got me there. I've seen dad keep score now and again, but I prefer to watch and root for the home team." A boy about nine years old sat next to Will, and next to him was a woman who was obviously the boy's mother. They wore the standard blue Cubs hat with the red emblem. The boy had a mitt in his right hand and peered at the field, pounding the glove with his left hand. The crowd roared and stood as one as the Cubs ran onto the field.
Alan Bryce Grossman is a historical novelist, creative writer, husband, father, grandfather, art appreciator, and, an attorney. He is originally from Chicago (Skokie), a lifelong Cubs' fan, but grew up in South Florida from his teen years, enjoying the South Florida lifestyle, the memory of life in the Windy City, and being a solid Florida Gator. He enjoys writing, drawing, photography, gardening, spending time in nature, and being around his artist wife, without whom the richness of his life would be diminished. He loves spending time in the kitchen whipping up creative meals for his family. As an attorney, Alan has published several articles in legal journals. He has dreamed of a life as an author, from the time in tenth grade when his teacher raved about his "What I Did This Summer" essay. As an adult, he chose the law while working in computer science at the National Security Agency, and attending law school at night at the University of Baltimore. He is an avid reader and drinker of gourmet coffees, and when the two conjoin, his life is heavenly.