HAPPINESS IN AMERICA Ch 1 - 2
Chapters 1 and 2
Chapter 1 - A Boy Plays Baseball
After the birth of her fifth child, his mother would lament, "Why did I have another boy? I already have a perfect son."She was never happy about her second boy, five years younger than his brother. Charles could feel that he was not wanted and since he could not get positive attention, he began to get into trouble."What have you done this time?" was always the question his parents asked when his grammar school teachers would call the house.
But when Charles was about eight, he discovered that he could play baseball...extremely well. His eye, hand co-ordination was excellent. He would do all of his chores on the farm in the hills of Tennessee, then practice his throwing. He would play for hours by himself. He even learned to hit the ball straight up into the air then catch it behind his back.
To practice his accuracy while catching, he would throw the ball towards the cement steps at the back porch. When it would bounce back, the ball would always be caught in his glove.The time spent with his bat, ball, and glove played to his advantage.
At age twelve he was playing short stop and pitcher for the local little league team with the number seven on his back. His teammates nicknamed him "Chaz. Sometimes they would call him by his full name...Charles Henry Addison Zane...and everyone would laugh at a name so long.
The summer brought long hours on the ballfield and a game he would never forget.His team was losing, four to one. The bases were loaded, two outs, and it was Chaz's turn at bat in the last inning.The coach called "time out" and handed him a heavy black bat."The extra weight of the bat will slow down your speed.You will hit it out."
Chaz's older brother, Will, now seventeen, and his dad were at homeplate to congratulate him as he drove in three team mates and crossed homeplate to score the winning run. The final score was five to four.
Two years later Chaz was playing for the Tennessee All Stars in the tournament's final games in Birmingham, Alabama. But he was playing on a men's team. His height had reached six feet by age fourteen. His torso was long, as were his strong slender legs and six foot arm span.
With his boyish charm, the girls flocked to see him pitch. His team mates wanted to call him "pretty boy" but with his quick temper and even faster reflexes, they kept their mouths shut. He had a certain shyness that appealed to the girls, especially one sixteen year old high school junior named Gale.
She lived across the street from the ball field and would sit on the bleachers to watch the team practice.She wondered if the handsome young pitcher was dating. The more she watched his movements, how his body moved with the rhythm of the pitch, the more she thought about being in his arms. In fact that was on her mind entirely too much.
He looked young, but since he played with a man's all star team she thought he was at least sixteen. She decided to ask him to come to the skating rink where she went every Saturday night.She wasn't an excellent skater, but she was good enough to get the attention of all the local guys.They were nice enough, but she never gave any of them a second look. She would just skate with the music...fast, slow...it did not matter. Her well toned body moved easily and effortlessly around the rink. Gale always put her blond hair in a high ponytail and dressed so that all the colors of her outfit matched perfectly.
Yes, she would ask him out.W hat did the coach say his name was? Charles...a good name.She wondered if he had a nickname.When she went to see him play in the last game of the season,the Tennessee team won 10-7.
She waited until he was walking off the field."Hi, handsome" she said, more boldly than she felt. At first he did not realize that she was speaking to him; she did not know that he was only fourteen and still had a shyness that came from being raised on a farm.
"Hi, I've been watching you play ball. You're really good", she said as her green eyes sparkled like emeralds."My name is Gale, you're Charles, right?"
"Yea, but my friends call me Chaz... how did you know my name?" he asked. "I just asked who was the best pitcher and short-stop on the team?" she replied, smiling all the while.
"While you are in town I was wondering if you would like to go skating down at the local rink?"
"I really just wanted to take it easy, since this is our last night in town" Chaz said. With a dissappointed look on her face, Gale asked, "Oh...well, how about going to eat? You've got to eat somewhere, and I can show you around Birmingham...I have my mom's Chevy."
Chaz had not been out with any of the local girls, but he was always ready for a good time with a pretty girl. Gale had a beautiful smile, long blond hair, a little waist, and an energy about her that was contagious.
He looked forward to the evening as he dressed in his jeans and blue shirt, the color of his eyes. Gale picked him up and they decided to eat in the car at the "Bird's Nest" drive-in restaurant and get to know each other.
When Chaz said he would be starting high school in Sept, Gale realized how young he was. He had a manner that was appealing...not corny like mostguys. She was comfortable with him from the start.
She decided to suggest something "fun" to do."Let's go out to the Amusement Park. We can ride the ferris wheel and get a great bird's eye view of Birmingham. It stretches out between two mountain ranges."
Darkness was descending as they reached the park with the carnival atmosphere. As they walked in front of the stands with the hawkers yelling constantly, the young pitcher commented, "Pick out a stuffed animal you want."
"Just like that?" Gale replied."Yea, go on, choose one," Chaz said as he threw the ball at the stack of wooden bottles.They went in all directions....and after the next throw...and the next.
After deciding on a hugh elephant (afterall she was going to the University of Alabama one day soon if her parents could get the money together), Chaz also won a Teddy bear for her.She felt as if she had always known him....but how could that be?The night came to an end as they finally rode on the ferris wheel. Gale hoped he would give her a goodnight kiss but he just looked deep into her eyes, not saying anything. She felt warm all over and wanted to be in his arms, but knew that Chaz was only fourteen. He had high school in front of him and she had college.She did not understand when tears came to her eyes as she whispered,"I had a wonderful time. I will allways remember you."
THE JOB AT GEORGIA POWER - Chapter 2 - Ten Years Later
Charles Henry Addison Zane, known as CHAZ, loved his job.
At twenty-four, he was the youngest crane operator around Atlanta, and liked the natural high that a dangerous career gave him.
This week he had started the Georgia Power project in Atlanta, Georgia.
He would be at the controls of a
Manitowoc Crawler Lift crane.
As he walked towards the job site, he straightened
the glistening white hard hat, with the steelers' emblem on the side.
Upon reaching the red monster, he climbed into the control cab, his "command center".
He sat in his chair, checked the gauges and levers, then exchanged his hard hat for a communications head set.
It was imperative that he stay in touch with his ground crew and the steam fitters who received the pipes.
That was his job:
to lift the fifty foot long steel pipes up four stories into an opening the size of a kitchen door. It would take his complete concentration.
The boom that was in his control was 270 feet high and eight feet square. It
looked like a red bridge reaching up into the air. The very thick steam pipes
were hoisted by the crane on its load line. Cable slings, called chokers, were
used to wrap around the pipes. The choker was attached to the hook on the ball
attached to the hoist line of the crane. The pipes were hung in such a way so
they hung on about a 75 degree angle.
As Chaz moved the pipe toward the doorway on the side of the power house, the workmen would attach a stationary hoisting cable to the pipe using chokers. As they started pulling each individual pipe into the doorway, he would keep lowering the fifty foot package until it landed
down at the door's threshold. The steamfitters were literally dragging the high
pressure pipe across the floor system on rollers. They would keep moving their
rigging until the pipes were in place and welded.
Chaz loved the variety of his job, but lately he had not been able to focus...and it was because of the pretty lady who he had seen going back and forth to the Georgia Power Office Building, just down from his job site.
She had the prettiest smile and... she seemed so familiar.
They waved hello each morning as she walked to work.
She dressed like Grace Kelly or Kim Novak from old movies...polished and perfect.
Her hair was blond too and her curves were just right.
He wanted her...badly.
He would ask her out.
The next day as she waved good morning, he quickly walked over to the sidewalk.
"Hey, beautiful, wait up, I want to ask you something.
I'm leaving to go back home this weekend and thought we might have dinner before I go. How about a glass of wine, dinner and dancing over at the Peachtree tomorrow evening?"
"That sounds like fun, Handsome. But I think I need to know your name. Mine is Gale...Gale Storm.Chaz smiled, saying, "No kidding? It's really "Gale Storm"?
Laughing, Gale replied, "yes, Mama did it, and I"ve had a lifetime of fun when I meet new friends and witness their expressions. Most folks think I am teasing...but I"m not".
During the brief conversation, Gale's memory bank had been searching for an answer to who this fellow really was? "Did you ever play baseball down in Birmingham, Alabama when you were about fourteen?" quizzed Gale.
"Yea", Chaz said as his mind found a connection to this pretty blond with the beautiful smile."You're the "Gale" with the "55 Chevy.We went to the fair my last night there.Wow, how long has it been?"
"Let's see", replied Gale,"I was sixteen then... so it's been ten years! We'll talk at dinner...gotta go...late for work. Here's my number...call me".