The Back of Duke Snider's Head

Monday, February 28, 2011

The report today of Duke Snider’s passing brings two small memories to mind, though most of his Hall-of-Fame career (1947-1964) was before my time and on the other side of the continent.
My Time with baseball started in 1959, the Dodgers’ second year out of Brooklyn. My Cub Scout den drove downtown to the Coliseum to watch the Dodgers host Cincinnati. I would have been nine, and I’m not even sure Snider played. I remember Pee Wee Reese, Wally Moon, and Gil Hodges. It was still the core of the team that had come from back east, and Snider was one of its most fabled players, but I hadn’t yet caught the fever. We sat in way-yonder center field seats where Snider would have been the nearest player in front of us, so maybe I spent nine innings staring at the back of his head. However, my two strongest memories are how far from the game we actually were, and how fast the Reds’ Vada Pinson could run from home to first on a single.

I didn’t really become a baseball fan until the Kaufax-Drysdale-Wills teams of the mid-60s. By then, the Dodgers had moved from the Coliseum to their own stadium, and Snider had moved to the Mets, Giants, and retirement. It was then I finally saw the Duke up close.

Off-season, Snider made his home in Fallbrook, California, rooted for the local high school athletic teams, farmed avocados, and attended the Methodist church. My own family had tried weekend avocado ranching near Fallbrook. My cousins attended high school there, and played baseball. They also attended the Methodist church, and I heard frequent mention of Duke Snider.

One Sunday, we made the trip to the Fallbrook church. My mother’s favorite, but long-retired pastor was making a guest appearance. As I took a seat, my cousin pointed at the man in front of me. “That’s Duke Snider,” he whispered. I spent the next hour looking at the back of the great man’s head. Afterwards, Snider got up and left and my mother pulled me up front to show me off to her pastor.

There you have it: a baseball great passes on to the ages and my two strongest memories are of the back of his head. Rest In Peace, Duke.

For another discussion of the Dodgers, go here.

Forty-Eight Generations and a Birth Announcement

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Somewhere in the deep recesses of history, God told man to be fruitful and multiply: to fill the earth.

In the early 6th Century, when Bishop (later, Saint) Arnulf of Metz (582–640) stepped into verifiable history, claiming a possibly-mythical ancestry of Roman senators and Merovingian princesses, the population of Europe stood at perhaps 25 million. Arnulf begat Ansegisel (born c. 602), who begat Pippin the Middle, Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia, who begat Charles Martel, who saved Christendom from the Moors at Tours, in 732. Charles begat Pepin the Short, who reigned (752-68) as King of the Franks.

Pepin begat Charlemagne, King of the Franks from 768, and Emperor of the Romans, from 800 to his death. For his reforms, Charlemagne has been called the Father of Europe, but he was also, biologically, ancestor to every royal dynasty that later inhabited the continent. It is estimated that more than half the population of Europe—maybe fifteen million people—lived in his realms. He personally sired 20 children, by eight women, but conservatively, if we suppose that his progeny only doubled in each successive generation, had there been no intermarriage, his living descendents today would be triple the current population of earth.

Charlemagne begat Louis the Pious (778 – 840), King of the Franks and Holy Roman Emperor, whose daughter Gisela (820 – 874) was likely married to Henry of Franconia and bore Ingeltrude, whose a son Berengar ruled as lord of Rennes until both his land and his daughter were captured by the Viking chieftain Rollo (Old Norse, Hrólfr, c. 870 – c. 932). Poppa converted her husband to Christianity (though Viking habits die hard), and their descendents were known as the Dukes of Normandy: William I Longsword (893-942) begat Richard I the Fearless (933-996), who begat Richard II the Good (970-1026), who begat Richard III (997-1027), who begat Robert I, called variously “the Magnificent” or “the Devil” (1000-1035), who begat William II the Bastard (c. 1028-1087), who shed that moniker at the Battle of Hastings, in 1066, becoming William I the Conqueror, King of the English.

England, with perhaps a million souls at the conquest, grew to as many as seven million within three centuries. A warming trend brought longer growing seasons. Better ploughs and the horse collar allowed more land to be farmed. The rise of powerful kingdoms brought relative stability.

William begat Henry I (c. 1068-1135), whose daughter Matilda (1102-1167) was briefly Empress of the Holy Roman Empire. When her father died, she attempted to rule England in her own right, but was more successful in passing the throne to her son Henry II Plantagenet (1133-1189).

Henry acknowledged paternity of William Longespee (1176-1226), whose daughter Ida (1210-1269) bore Beatrice de Beauchamp (1242-1285), who bore Maud Fitz Thomas (1265- 1329), who bore Ada de Botetourt (c. 1288-1349), who bore Maud de St Philibert (1327-1360). Even while the Black Plague was ravaging Europe, claiming 40% of the population of Germany, 50% of Provence, and 70% of Tuscany, this Maud bore Maud Trussell (1340-1369), who bore Maud Matilda Hastang (1358-c. 1409), each woman married to a knight. Maud and her husband, Sir Ralph (1355-1410) brought forth the first Sir Humphrey Stafford (1384-1419), whose death in France just weeks after the victory at Rouen may have been due to wounds in the battle, but not before he sired a second Sir Humphrey (1400-1450), who sired a third (1426-1486), who sired a fourth (1429-1486), who sired a fifth (1497-1540), whose daughter Eleanor (c. 1545-1608) bore Stafford Barlowe (c. 1570-1638), “a Gentleman of Lutterworth.”

Stafford’s daughter Audrey (1603-1676) first bore a son, Christopher Almy (1632-1713), and then both generations migrated to America, settling in Rhode Island. He begat Elizabeth Almy (1663-1712), who bore Rebecca Morris (1697-1749), who married John Chamberlain, and moved to New Jersey. It is believed the Chamberlains owned slaves. Their son Noah (1760-1840) served in the Revolutionary War.

Noah begat John C. Chamberlain (1812-1866), who begat Samuel L. Chamberlain (1842-1914), who fought with an Ohio regiment in the Civil War, and then walked out on a wife and daughter, Anna Margaret Chamberlain (1875-1956), who I remember meeting once, when I was very small. Anna hailed from Scotch ancestry. The population of Europe doubled during the 18th Century, and did so again in the 19th. At that time, 70 million people came to America, both to the United States, and to places like Brazil.

Anna Chamberlain married Thomas Boyer Reef Kelley and bore Ruth Ella Kelley (1899-1974). They tried to make a go of it on the Dakota prairie, but gave up and moved to be near the shipyards in Washington. Ruth married Howard Vincent Carroll (b. New York, 1898). He was of recent Irish and German extraction, refugees of the Potato Famine. Today, 6.2 million Irish live in Ireland, and 80 million live somewhere else. Howard left Ruth with two sons, including Donald, who has been everything a son could want in a father. Donald begat Brian, who teaches school and blogs on Saturdays. Brian begat Matthew, who has been everything a father could want in a son, and Matthew—already with two wonderful sons—begat Eliezer Carroll, who was born yesterday, in Goiania, Goiás, Brazil.

Welcome, Eliezer, to the family. We are saints and devils, counts and no-counts. There are not quite 7 billion of us. Help take care of the place, be fruitful, and live long.

Photo by his father
Thank-yous to Sally Carroll, Devin Carroll, and Wikipedia for contributing information to these thoughts.

Back to Normalcy after a Rabbit Firestorm: Anatomy of a Capers Chūnyùn

Saturday, February 05, 2011

World-wide, Chinese New Year is celebrated by Spring Festival and Chūnyùn (春运), the greatest annual migration on earth. In 2008, the 1.3 billion Chinese took 2.2 billion train trips within the 40 day travel window. The celebrations include feasting, fireworks, dragons dancing in the streets, and time with family and friends. Apparently, also, they google the phrase Xin nian kuai le.

I know this last detail because over the past six weeks, this blog has been celebrating its fourth annual Capers Virtual Chūnyùn. I began seeing traffic pick up in mid December, helping to make that my most-visited month ever. Traffic continued steady through January and then spiked on Saturday the 29th. For the first time in the blog's six year history, page views topped 1,000. All by itself, Wednesday—Chinese New Year—brought 429. Five days into February, its totals now exceed all of January. Just four days this week, Monday through Thursday, out-performed the whole four month period, April to July.

Credit Google.

I'm assuming the vast majority of my traffic came from overseas Chinese. This past month, if Sweden’s nearly 13,000 Chinese expatriates went to and searched for Xin nian kuai le, they got 272 000 results, of which my 2008 New Year’s greeting was listed 2nd. The United Arab Emirate’s 180,000 Chinese found me 3rd, and sent me 29 hits. Also at 2nd, Singapore’s 3.6 million found me 300 times. Myanmar’s million-plus found my 2008 message 4th and December 2010 update 5th. They made 139 visits. The UK’s 400,000 Chinese clicked on me 111 times. None of my visitors clicked in from China itself, but there, “新年快乐”would be far likelier to get lost in the crowd than would Xin Nian Kuai Le in the Diaspora. That and 2010 saw Google and China tangle, with a reduction of Google’s presence.

When all these numbers began to develop, my first reaction was awe over the chance popularity of an almost-throw-away post from three years ago. It struck me as random and surreal. Then, as I studied the source locations, I was transported back forty years, to a time in my life before marriage into a Spanish-speaking family, nine years living in Colombia, and 20 years teaching recent immigrants from Mexico. My focus on Latin America and its immigrants had interrupted an earlier interest.

I mentioned in my recent post on Fred Korematsu Day that I took at class at Pasadena City College called Sociology of the Asian in America. I took it because, even in high school, I had an interest in immigration and the mixing of cultures. Over the course of completing a history major, whatever class I might be taking, I wrote about Asian immigration into the Western world. I wrote about Japanese in Mexico, Cuba, Peru, and Brazil, and especially, I wrote about the Chinese in Europe. During three quarters of independent study at UCLA, I wrote what I believe was the longest treatment of the Chinese in France that then existed in English (it has since been surpassed).

As blog hits came in from Holland, Germany, Luxembourg, Italy, Spain, and Sweden, I was once again looking at the Chinese in Europe, and a Diasphora that now includes places like Dubai and Nairobi (I showed up 4th at Google Kenya).

I’m not sure yet what conclusions to draw, but I find myself thinking again on this subject after many years away from it. I am also beginning to read When a Billion Chinese Jump, by Jonathan Watts. Stay tuned. My thoughts in this Year of the Rabbit may turn increasingly to China, and its Diasphora. Watts’ premise is that any race to stave off global warming and worldwide ecological disaster will be won or lost in mainland China. The same may be true in a wide variety of human activities. I am fortunate to have friends both inside and outside of China, and about two months of Chinese travel experience. That doesn’t rank me yet as an expert, but it gives me a place to start.

Happy Year of the Rabbit

Chūnyùn. On the Chinese Diasphora, and the Chinese in Europe.

Disclosure of Material Connection: The link above is an “affiliate link.” This means if someone clicks on the link and purchases the item, I will receive a commission. This has never happened yet, and would only be a pittance if it did. For this reason, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”