As you may know, the Boyer family might be starring in one of the fall episodes of America's Funniest Home Videos. I just received an e-mail from the Video Coordinator at ABC...and I'm waiting for her to return my call. In that spirit, I thought that you might interested in seeing the video before we all become famous:)
I'd like to use this blog as a forum to talk about great books. Reading is one of my favorite things to do, and I catch up on a A LOT of reading over the summer. Here are some of the books I've read, and I'd love to hear what you are reading, too:
Home Game by Michael Lewis: great writer, great book...should be a must read for dads
The Associate by John Grisham: one of my favorite writers. He is a supremely talented storyteller, but, i'll be honest with you, his books start to blend together after a while.
Miracle Ball by Brian Biegel: AWESOME baseball book about the journey to find the "shot heard round the world" (i.e. Bobby Thompson's home run ball in 1951 against the Dodgers).
Heart of the Game by S.L. Price: This is, quite honestly, one of the best books that I've ever read. Be careful, its an emotional book that will probably bring tears to your eyes.
The Headmaster by John McPhee: This should be required reading for independent school teachers. Its an extraordinary story about an extraordinary man who literally built one of America's most prestigious schools from scratch.
Angels & Demons by Dan Brown: I read this book at the beach and couldn't put it down. I think it was better than The Da Vinci Code...Brown is a master storyteller.
Columbine by Dave Cullen: Think you know what happened at Columbine High School? Think again. If you want to know the real story instead of the one crafted by the media, this book is a MUST read.
Family Values, How schools can cope with the crisis in child-rearing by Rob Evans: This book was required reading for all members of the faculty at PDS (and Dr. Evans will be visiting campus in a few weeks). Its not an enjoyable read, but its definitely informative for teachers and parents.
The Audacity of Hope & Dreams from my Father by President Barack Obama: I couldn't get through either of these books. President Obama writes eloquently, but, quite honestly, I just didn't find the books interesting enough to complete.
Currently reading October Men by Roger Kahn: book about the dysfunctional Yankees teams of 1977 and 1978. Great read, sort of the book version of ESPN's "The Bronx is Burning."
I had one of those "my children are growing up too fast" moments yesterday. I'm sure that its something all parents experience, but it definately hits you hard when you are in the moment. As frustrating as it is at times to have three young children, I wouldn't trade the experience for the world...I am truly blessed to be a parent. Yesterday, however, I felt a wave of emotions that I wasn't expecting. First is was Rylee. I felt tears coming on as I was in Wal-Mart buying "big girl" underwear for my 2 year-old daughter. Before I know it, a guy will be coming to our door wanting to take her out on a date. I still remember the day she was born like it was yesterday. She followed this big event by giving up her pacifier last night forever...geez, too much to handle in one day!! Michael had a big day, too. He went to the doctor for his pre-Kindergarten physical. My little man who I met at 9 months old is headed to Kindergarten in a few short weeks. I can't imagine the emotion I will feel when he puts on his first day of school clothing and his new backpark and goes to school for the first time. Zachary continues to impress me with his intellect. The complexity of our conversations deepen every single day, and he's fast approaching his teenage years. No longer do I think of him as a little boy...he's a young man who'll be taller than me in a few short years. I'm not quite sure why I decided to write about this. I'm really putting myself out there as a sappy dad, but I'm just so blessed to be a father. Writing this actually makes me feel better, especially knowing that I was able to capture this moment when it happened.
Pulled into the driveway at 5pm...what an amazing trip. Here are some fun statistics:
Miles Driven: 2,672 Gas: $318.66 Restaurants Visited: 20 IHOP (2), Cracker Barrell, Waffle House, Ruby Tuesdays, Hard Rock Cafe, TGI Friday's, Ground Zero Blues Club, J Alexander's, Noshville Cafe, Chick Fil A (3), McDonald's (1), Subway (2), Memphis Redbirds Stadium, Montgomery Biscuits Stadium, Western Sizzlin', Papa John's, Olive Garden, Blues Street, Joe's Crab Shack, Pizza Playland, KFC...in other words, failed miserably in my attempts to sample the local cuisine. Favorite Meal: IHOP for Breakfast!! Traffic Citations: ZERO!!! Favorite Hotel: Hotel Indigo (Nashville) Least Favorite Hotel: Jameson Inn (Selma) Nicest People: Memphis, TN Favorite City: Memphis, TN Most Unusual Traffic Patterns: Montgomery, AL (three consecutive one way streets going in the same direction) Ate for the 1st time and liked it: Fried Catfish Ate too much and no longer like it: fast food Overrated foods: BBQ Nachos Underrated foods: Grits and Kentucky Fried Chicken Best Museum: Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery Saw too many: vanity license plates
I'm filled with a mix of emotions today, the final day of my Civil Rights journey. It will not be my last post because I'd really like to include some reflections a few days after I return...but there is a certain finality to today's post. I visited the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, a beautiful complex that includes a museum, Dr. King's boyhood home, final resting place, and the Ebenezer Baptist Church. It is a wonderful tribute to a special American, one of our greatest leaders of the past 100 years.
I was personally touched by the visit to Dr. King's boyhood home. Reading stories about how he liked to run around the backyard and play baseball in the street showed a personal side of Dr. King that I never thought about. He's always been a "larger than life" figure to me. Its quite amazing how the "stars aligned" and allowed for an eloquent leader to rise to national prominence. King himself noted the surprise he felt: "When I went to Montgomery, Alabama in 1954, I had not the slightest idea that I would later become involved in a crisis in which non-violent resistance would be applicable." Quite honestly, Dr. King's story immediately made me think of Malcolm Gladwell's newest book, Outliers. Special opportunities arose that were well-suited for Dr. King's extraordinary talents. This is not to say that Martin Luther King, Jr. wasn't an amazingly gifted American. He certainly was, but he also took advantage of an opportunity that fit perfectly with his talents.
Since I'll be leaving for home tomorrow, I thought a lot today about whether a CRM tour should start here or end here. By ending here, I don't want to give the impression that I believe the CRM ended when Dr. King died because it definitely didn't. I'm a firm believer that the CRM is an ongoing struggle that has manifested itself in many different ways throughout the World. It is no longer just a racial struggle, but a much broader one. I'm not one to use the term "civil right" lightly, but there are numerous issues today that many people believe are civil rights issues. Do you believe that marriage, adequate healthcare, and a good education are "civil" rights?
Thank you for joining me on such a wonderful journey. I really cannot put into words how thankful I am to the Eichenbrenner family for providing me with this opportunity of a lifetime.
What a beautiful day in Birmingham. Blue skies and a high of 80 degrees. A "cool" summer day in the South for sure. I visited the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, strolled through Kelly Ingram Park, and took pictures outside the 16th Street Baptist Church. Together they represent a poignant tribute to one of the greatest victories of the CRM...as well as one of the greatest tragedies. While almost all Americans are familiar with the church bombing that killed 4 young girls attending church services, most have no idea (me included) that two young boys were also killed on the same day. 13 year-old Virgil Ware was killed by white teenagers who were returning from a segregationist rally held after the bombing. 16 year-old Jimmy Robinson was killed by Birmingham Police after (reportedly) hurling rocks at a police cruiser. I was shocked and appalled that this happened (and I knew nothing about it).
While I could write page after page honoring the brave citizens of Birmingham (especially the children) for standing up to the ruthless, segregationist police led by tank-riding police commissioner Bull Conner, I've decided to write about something different: Baseball. I arrived at this decision because I had the good fortune of visiting the oldest baseball stadium in the USA, Rickwood Park. Opened in 1910, and used regularly until 1987 by the Birmingham Barons (and the Black Barons of the Negro National League before the Negro Leagues folded in the early 1960s), it has been maintained by a dedicated group of citizens since. American Legion and Adult leagues use the field regularly and anyone can visit free of charge. Its worth your time even if you hate baseball...just an amazing historical relic.
On to the reason I've decided to write about baseball. When both the Barons and Black Barons were playing and segregation was strictly enforced, the teams shared the stadium in an interesting fashion. While the Barons played, African-Americans could only sit in the right field bleachers and when the Black Barons played, Whites could only sit in the right field bleachers. Interesting set-up to say the least. The Black Barons were so popular, that the city passed a temporary ordinance one year to allow the team to play an all-white team from the Texas League. Baseball was the ONLY instance were city leaders would change its strict segregation policy. Herein lies the important relationship between sports and the Civil Rights Movement. It can be argued that Jackie Robinson (who actually played at Rickwood Park in the minor leagues) was the most important person in the CRM. Ironically, I just started reading Roger Kahn's October Men (got it free at Country Inn & Suites) where he essentially makes the same point, saying "I think it is reasonable to suggest that without Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King, Jr. would have lived out his days delivering eloquent sermons in an obscure Baptist church in Georgia." As someone who loves sports, I'm obviously biased when it comes to discussing the social impact of sports. BUT, could you imagine an equally successful CRM without Jackie Robinson, all-black Texas Western defeating all-white Kentucky, Muhammad Ali, or "fists of freedom" at the 1968 Olympics? Sports became the place not only where racial injustice was publicized, but, also, the place where racial relations improved.
An interesting side story is how African-Americans were judged (and still are) by their stance on civil rights issue. Willie Mays, who grew up close to Birmingham and was a 16 year-old star on the Black Barons' 1948 championship team, was chastised for not participating in the CRM. So was Hank Aaron who also grew up in Alabama. Do sports stars (and other public figures) have an obligation to speak out on social issues? Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods, among others, have faced criticism for not being more socially active while Muhammad Ali and Charles Barkley have been criticised for being too opinionated. Just some food for thought..Sorry for the tangent.
Its on to Atlanta tomorrow and my final stop on this glorious journey. It has been a wonderful experience every step of the way. I'd be lying if I said I was looking forward to visiting Dr. King's final resting place. Its a beautiful memorial to a special man, but, along with JFK and RFK, I'd like to think that the world would be better today if their lives weren't tragically taken far too soon.
If you reading this profile, you are probably a memebr of the PDS community. I've created this Blog to communicate with you in my "virtual" classroom and reflect on some of the wonderful things that happen in Middle School at PDS. At the same time, its impossible for me to avoid talking about some of the most important things in my life: my family [wife Samantha, Zachary-11, Michael-6, Rylee-3], American politics, and the Philadelphia Eagles. Enjoy!! and Thanks for visiting!