Susan and I watched the movie “42” the other evening. It was a great movie but hard to watch at times.
About 20 years ago I was working at a small electronic repair shop in Colchester CT after just getting out of the service. There was a service call to a home in Salem Connecticut for a woman known only to me as Mrs. Robinson. I arrived to meet a very impressive woman. She was in amazing shape and very attractive for a woman obviously in her later years. She was extremely well spoken and obviously well educated. It was a beautiful home on a large piece of property well off the beaten path. There was a beautiful courtyard with meticulously kept gardens in the middle of the home.
As I made my way around the home working, I could not help but notice photographs of this woman with Presidents, actors, athletes and any number of famous and influential people. What struck me about these pictures was that unlike a picture that you and I might have where we would be somewhat in awe standing beside these famous people, in her photos, it was quite the opposite. These people seemed to be honored to be in her presence.
After completing my work, I went to find Mrs. Robinson and as I looked for her, I came across a photo of Jackie Robinson. Stupid me, while I began to think that she must be of some relation to Jackie, it still hadn’t dawned on me completely. I finally got the courage to ask her, “Mrs. Robinson, it I am not being to forward, can I ask if you might be related to Jackie Robinson?” She smiled at me and responded, “I am his widow.” I was completely dumb struck, I had no idea that she would live in the tiny town of Salem, CT. Worse, I was so awestruck that I could not think of a single appropriate thing to say. We completed our transaction and I left for my next appointment. When I returned to the office, I tried to explain to my co-workers who I had met but to my chagrin, they didn’t get it!?! They simply said, they didn’t know who she was and thought that because they weren’t particularly baseball fans, why should they! I tried to explain that her significance was historically and socially significant. Baseball was only a small piece of the puzzle. They still did not get it. I know I am a history geek but I will never understand how some people seem to have no interest in our own national history and the people that helped shape the world we live in.
These years later, I still think back and wish I could have had a conversation with her and wonder what I might have said to thank her for her contributions to my country and to a game I have always loved. Now, being in my 50s, having read many books on Jackie Robinson and now, having seen this movie I think I know what I would like to say if ever given another opportunity to speak with her.
I think I would simply thank her for the contribution she and her husband made in making our country a better place and for helping to make right something that was so very wrong. I think I would also like to add how very sorry I am that they had to make such a sacrifice and how ashamed I feel that they and others were treated so terribly but their own countrymen.
Rachel Robinson in my opinion is as big a hero as her husband. I encourage you to read more about this incredible woman.
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