I was the introductory speaker at a conference of the San Diego Lutherans. The topic was "Racism in the Seventies." They were nice enough people, sincere, attentive, thoughtful, gracious, but most of them arrived late. They came in smiling, talking about the World Series. I made my speech and headed for the freeway, stopping at bars and supermarkets for wine jugs.
From San Diego to Chino is a long, grueling, 2�-hour drive. I held at 70, hoping to return in time to get enough sleep for my Monday morning class. " 'Nobody Does It Better' than the Dodgers," the L.A. disc jockeys kept saying.
Uncle Arbria and Aunt Viola met me at the door. The house had a nice warm smell to it. Hot biscuits, fried chicken, apple pie. I had to make myself slow down, adjust to their soft, unhurried, Georgia pace. The freeway and the Top 40 might have been in another world.
I mentioned my upcoming interview with Metzger. Unc was surprised, disappointed, actually, that the Ku Klux Klan was in California. No sir, he didn't want to accompany me. He hadn't come all the way to California to meet a Klansman. He had been meeting them all his life. He wanted to talk baseball. He and Henry had driven up to L.A. to see the boys practice before they went to New York for the opening game of the World Series. By the time they arrived, the players were already inside the park. The security guards outside were adamant, refusing to let them in. Several times he had called the number Don had given him, identifying himself as "Mr. Johnson from Atlanta, the Peach Brandy Man," and leaving his phone number. The lady who answered the phone said she would leave the message but couldn't guarantee the call would be returned. He was certain Don hadn't received his messages. Don would return his calls. There was nothing for me to do except agree.
We talked baseball until Unc's bedtime, when Henry told me of a problem he had. He had to leave Tuesday to attend a law-enforcement seminar in San Luis Obispo. He would be away for several days. Uncle Arbria and Aunt Viola would be alone. I told him that I would drive up Thursday afternoon after my classes, spend the rest of the day, drive back that night.
I was on the freeway, halfway back to San Diego, before I remembered I was supposed to meet Metzger on Thursday.
I called Metzger from my office the next day, explaining that I'd be out of town Thursday. His voice was colder, more guarded than before, but he agreed to meet with me the following week. I was to drive to Fallbrook, call him from a pay phone, then "we'd go from there." He had read my comments about the Klan in the local newspapers, I surmised. My one o'clock class was disappointed that the interview had been put off. I still didn't know what Metzger and I would talk about.
The papers had stories about disgruntled employees of the Dodger organization who couldn't get World Series tickets for friends and family for those games that would be played in L.A. Some of the Yankees threatened not to go on the field in Los Angeles unless more Series tickets were made available to them.
I drove up to Chino Thursday afternoon. Uncle Arbria and Aunt Viola had been alone for two days, but they weren't ones to complain. Yes sir, Don had pitched seven good innings in the opening game in New York, even though the Dodgers had lost. He was proud of Don. Proud of them all. Even the sportscasters and reporters liked Don. He was such a friendly, likable guy. You couldn't be certain of anything in this world, but Unc still thought he could get us tickets to one or two of the games in Los Angeles. He hadn't come all this way to watch on television!
The third game of the Series was going to be played in Los Angeles the next day. Uncle Arbria thought that if he got to the park early enough he could spot some of the players before they went inside. Just about any one of them would make sure that we got in to see the game. I kept my doubts to myself, mentioning only that I had important business to take care of early in the morning—and there were my classes, of course. He had never heard of a teacher who couldn't miss a class, or at least get someone to substitute for him. I said I would see what I could do.