Mixed Marriage, Revisited


I’ve written about this grave before. About five years ago, my dad and I spotted it while visiting the Mother Jones Memorial in a union miners’ cemetery just outside Mount Olive, Illinois. The Cardinals and Cubs logos got our attention, of course. Last week, I stopped there again with my brother Chris and son Liam. After we got done gazing upon Mother Jones’s final resting place, we went across the road to the Kalvin grave. Chris noticed a metal capsule on the back of the stone, which happens to be the side facing the road. It has a hinged cover. Beneath the cover is what I take to be a picture of Steven and Verona, some time during their long marriage and lifelong residence in Mount Olive. A date is noted below: their wedding day. For a little historical baseball perspective, Steven Kalvin was born three years before Wrigley Field opened (and five years before the Cubs made it their home); Verona Kalvin was born the same year the last Yankee Stadium opened. They were married three seasons after the Cubs’ last pennant.

Verona, here’s hoping you don’t have to wait too much longer.


Mixed Marriage


I’ve just started to scan in some pictures from a trip Dad and I took in September 2004. From Chicago, we went down to Cairo, crossed the Mississippi, then took a ferry from Dorena, Missouri, back to Hickman, Kentucky. One of the stops on our itinerary was the cemetery in Mount Olive, Illinois, about 50 miles northeast of St. Louis, where labor saint “Mother” Mary Jones is buried. My older son Eamon and I had happened across the spot on our way back to California a few months earlier. When we saw the informational sign on southbound Interstate 55–“Mother Jones Monument”–I was surprised. What was she doing out here, in the middle of nowhere? But the sign at the gate of a graveyard less than a mile from town and the interstate explained her presence: “Union Miners Cemetery,” it read. And on the arch above the gate, the legend was: “Resting Place of Good Union People.” You don’t know or tend to forget if you’re not from the area that this part of Illinois has a long coal-mining history and one marked by violence against union organizers and members. So: she’s there among the people she fought for. I’ve got some pictures I’ll scan in and post eventually.

While we were there, Dad and I strolled through the cemetery and another one just across the road. It was at the latter that we came across the headstone above. That south-central part of Illinois is divided between Cubs and Cardinals fans. Here’s a case where those bitter differences were put aside for a lifetime partnership (I note that the Cards’ fan lived to age 90; his Cubs’ fan wife would have been 80 when this picture was taken.

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At the end of a truly crummy day, Kate and I watched the finish of the Cardinals-Astros game. The Cards were down two runs with two out in the ninth and no one on when Fox flashed a graphic for Game 1 of the World Series on Saturday in Chicago. Looking out at the TV from the kitchen, I thought the graphic depicted the Astros logo alongside the White Sox logo.

“Jinx,” I said. “They jinxed it. The Cardinals are going to win this one now.”

David Eckstein, the Cards’ shortstop and Little League lookalike, fought off a pitch from Astros’ closer Brad Lidge and rolled a single into left.

“See,” I said. I was thinking of Game 6 of the ’86 World Series, when Gary Carter came up for the Mets in top of the 9th and the Red Sox an out away from their first title since 1918. Kate was a Mets fan and was sad to see her team about to lose. We were watching at our friends Larry and Ursula’s house in the Sacramento suburbs. “Not over,” I told Kate. Carter lined a single to center, and the game and the Series turned out not to be over.

Jim Edmonds batted for the Cards and walked. Two on. Albert Pujols coming up. But still, the odds for the Astros: Their nearly unhittable closer on the mound. An out away from winning. The run that could kill them in the batter’s box. A threat, but more potential than imminent.

Pujols swung and missed a breaking ball low and outside. The next pitch stayed up and over the middle of the plate. When Pujols hit it, everyone knew. A replay showed Astros’ starter Andy Pettite jerking his head to follow the flight of the ball. You could read his lips: “Oh, my gosh.”

What I like best about crowd photography — sporting events, political rallies, concerts — is to search the faces of the extras, the people watching people launch the winning shot or make the speech or sing the aria, for the hopes and expectations and foreknowledge and fears there. During a replay of the Pujols home run, which turned out to win the game, Kate pointed out the woman in left of the frame. She’d had two or three seconds to take in what just happened. In an instant, she gets more dramatic and puts her hands on her head. For now, she’s just shocked.