The May issue of the St. Louis Cardinals’ Game Day Magazine featured a nostalgic look at the old stadia in Brooklyn and New York I used to attend as a young fan. Every time I see a photo of the Dodgers’ Ebbets Field I am reminded of an incident that happened during the team’s final season in Flatbush. Our grade school had provided tickets for several “patrol boys” for a game with the Cardinals. I sat in the upper deck with boyhood friend Eddie Smith.
Eddie was a mischievous lad who constantly pushed the envelope of civility. This chilly May afternoon he started throwing peanuts at the fans below us. To our horror a seedy looking usher with a clip bowtie, dangling from his open collar and a pencil thin mustache, emerged undetected out of the rafters and yanked poor Eddie by his coat collar. My last sight of Eddie was his pleading eyes as he was dragged backwards down the steep flight of bleacher steps.
Several years ago, while visiting him in his Long Island home, I reminded him of the incident. Little did I realize that his six-year old daughter was absorbing every detail of my story! I will never forget the tearful look on her face when she said, Daddy you threw peanuts?
These many years it has been hard for me to get her sad and puzzled face out of my mind. I had unintentionally crumbled her image of her dad as a model of sober perfection. By exposing his adolescent prank, I might have stripped his poor little girl of her innocence way before her time.
It’s a different world today. The peanuts story is mild by comparison with what we are doing to our children today, especially our little girls. Thousands of parents cannot wait to shed their daughters’ innocence and usher them into a world, filled with the corrupt environs of a troop of seedy ushers, just waiting to drag our daughters down the winding stairs of despair.
We live in a culture that is hot-wired against purity and self-restraint. Many of our schools teach our kids the basic mechanics of reproduction without any concern for its moral, emotional and sociological aspects. Catholic girls seem no better than the rest of their peers. All this makes me wonder just what has happened the past 60 years. Some will suggest the usual suspects, namely Vatican II or the failure of Catholic couples to heed Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, Humanae Vitae. My thoughts conjure up something much more sinister.
In the 1920s Antonio Gramsci, one of the founders of the Italian Communist Party, remarked that Communism as an economic force was doomed to failure. He said too many Italians were tied to their culture, especially their Catholic faith. The way to defeat the West was by a long march through its Christian culture.
The best way to do this was “through its women,” the custodians of the culture. Since the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world is still a reliable truism, his plan was designed to lure future generations of young women away from their morality and religious faith by whatever means necessary.
While Gramsci died in prison, his ideas were embodied in the Frankfurt School, a Marxist research institute in Germany. Herbert Marcuse, its leading advocate and his associates eventually transplanted Gramsci’s ideas to American culture through its university system. One of his disciples, Betty Friedan, convinced millions of suburban housewives that they were wasting their lives. Her Feminist Mystique launched the feminist movement with its legacy of working mothers, feminist empowerment, abortion rights, and a hatred of patriarchy.
For three generations millions of American mothers, even many Catholic mothers, have weaned their daughters on a steady diet of prepubescent sexual freedom and distaste for the country’s religious and moral traditions. As a result fatherhood has lost its luster and has been relegated to the dusty archives with reruns of Leave it to Beaver and his sage dad, Ward Cleaver. The apocalypse may not yet be here, but one thing I can say with certainty, things are far worse than when Eddie Smith was tossing peanuts in Ebbets Field.