As I searched my photo albums for more clues hiding in my childhood, I came across treasures
that were not forgotten, but not looked at in decades. I got a clear YES about taking a trip back to my life between eleven and fourteen years old, my New York Yankees years.
The title for this page is a line from The Graduate. If you remember the song from the 1967 comedy/drama (sometimes known as a dramedy) film of the same name, you will understand that the video would be totally inappropriate for this page. I just thought that one line of the song was perfect for the title of this page. My trip down memory lane took me back to that impressionable time in my early teenage years when I had a serious crush on Joe DiMaggio.
My inner conflict at that time was caused by the fact that I also had a mad crush on a very handsome Glenn Ford, a popular Hollywood actor back in the day. What a dilemma! Such a serious decision for a 12- or 13-year-old girl (insert sigh here). Thinking I had to choose only one for a photo on my bedroom wall, I sent away for 8 x 10 glossies of both of them. They ended up taking turns on prime real estate on my wall. During baseball season, "Joltin' Joe" owned the spot. Off-season, Glenn Ford got his turn. What a nice problem to have at that age, but it didn't seem that way at the time.
I wish I could remember what it was about "the Yankee Clipper" that made me take a subway ride for an hour to the 161st Street-Yankee Stadium station. I'd squirrel-away some of my allowance so I could buy a ticket in the bleachers as close to center field as possible and spend the next few hours fixated on my favorite ball player of all time. It seemed like everyone in my Brooklyn neighborhood rooted for the Dodgers, but for some reason I don't know, my family members were Yankee fans through and through.
I wasn't allowed to see Glenn Ford in the movie Gilda when it came out in black and white in 1946. My mother monitored my movies carefully. It was on her too-sexy list with the femme fatale Rita Hayworth playing Gilda to Glenn Ford's young thug, Johnny Farrell. I must have been more afraid of my mom's disapproval if I snuck off to see it, so I didn't. Eventually Turner Classic Movies carried it and I was glad I waited so I could appreciate it.
From 1933 to 1978, the Catholic Legion of Decency wrote reviews and rated films on a regular basis "for the purification of the cinema." They condemned films they considered morally offensive by giving them a condemned rating. I don't know if Gilda made that list or not. I do know after I got older, my friends and I used that list to decide which forbidden movies to see!
I am still the proud owner of my Joe DiMaggio pin bought around 1947. It's carefully packed next to my faded Joe D Sports Club For Boys and Girls membership card with rules for living a good life printed on the back.
One of the greatest memories of my youth is going to the one and only Joe DiMaggio Day at Yankee Stadium on October 1, 1949. I was 14 then and I still cherish the program and newspaper articles. I remember hearing in person, his much-quoted remark that day when he said, I want to thank the good Lord for making me a Yankee!
I used to collect a lot of Joe DiMaggio trivia, most of which I've forgotten. What I do remember most, I want to include here, for me mostly. I did google dates long forgotten.
Joe was actually born Giuseppe Paolo DiMaggio on November 25, 1914, in California. I was born in 1935. He married his first wife, an actress I don't remember, when I was 18 months old. They divorced when I was 9, so during the years of my Joe DiMaggio crush, he was single. For some crazy teenage reason, I fantasized that he might wait for me to grow up and marry me. (Don't laugh!) By the time he eloped to marry Marilyn Monroe in the early 1950s, my schoolgirl crush was behind me and I was getting engaged to the very handsome Johnny Martin, my first real boyfriend.
I was only six when Joe DiMaggio had his 56-game hitting streak in 1941, a record that still stands. I'm so grateful I got to watch a few of the 361 home runs he hit in his 13-year career with the New York Yankees, the only team he ever played for.
DiMaggio's parents had nine children and Joe had two brothers who also played in the Major Leagues. I often wondered, what are the chances that three brothers in the same family would grow up to play center field in the Major Leagues? I had no idea then that I was well on my way to earning the later nickname of Curious Priscilla, CP for short. I was curious about anything and everything and enjoyed doing research and watching baseball games more than most young girls my age.
DiMaggio was only married for nine months before Marilyn Monroe divorced him on grounds of mental cruelty. That caused him to go to therapy and quit drinking. Marilyn married Arthur Miller next and when that marriage was coming to an end around 1961, it was Joe who got her out of a psychiatric clinic. She followed him to Florida where they were "just friends" and a year and a half later, Joe decided to ask Marilyn to marry him again. It didn't happen because she died before he could. The Coroner said her death was a probable suicide. There are still conspiracy theories surrounding her death.
Joe was the one who claimed her body and arranged for her funeral. For the next twenty years, he had a half-dozen red roses sent to her crypt, three times a week. He never married again and died in 1999, in the city where I married my first husband, Hollywood, Florida. His last words were I'll finally get to see Marilyn.
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