The Dime Pitch. Part 2. Welcome to McClure, PA

McClure, Pennsylvania.

McClure is the type of town where words like “DangFlammit” and “New Fangled” are used when describing teenagers or cell phones. The type of town where the girls dip and have the Snuff tins collected and arranged in a step pyramid design in their dining rooms to prove it. Everyone has learned to drive on a 3 speed manual shift truck of some sort and coincidentally, a majority of them still drive those very same trucks.
Outside of this throw back town and it’s single traffic light at the gas station with the old pumps and the rolling digits keeping track of the leaded gas being pumped into those trucks that is McClure, sits the Farm.

The Farm is a log house, owned by my friend’s family, with all the trappings of modern society needed by teenagers. This would have included indoor plumbing, electricity, television and VCR (with a bevy VHS tapes with movies from the 1980’s featuring blatant nudity) and enough beds to sleep in. Most of us had the opportunity to visit the Farm on a semi-annual, if not more, basis. We went there for Spring Break, summer vacation, Memorial Day weekend, and Labor Day weekend. It was our escape from our daily lives and modern society. The Farm also sat in close proximity to where the Bean Soup Festival and it’s fabled Dime Pitch were to be held.

We had heard tales of the Dime Pitch from our friend. That summer, during an anonymous Saturday night wasted away playing Bulls vs Blazers on the Super Nintendo, we were regaled with stories of the Dime Pitch. Our friend waved his arms around his head and his voice cracked as he described the Dime Pitch. He had an air of a Navajo Shaman walking through the spirit world with his Raven animal guide as he painted the picture of the Dime Pitch. We sat in silence. We halted our Bulls vs Blazers game (right in the middle of a Chuck Persons self alley-oop from the foul line dunk). All we could think about was that Dime Pitch.

When our friend finished his epic tale, sweat beaded on his forehead and out of breath, he collapsed into the Lazy Chair. Simultaneously we rose in front of him and took a vow for the upcoming Labor Day Weekend. On our regular trip to the Farm, we would not only meet the Dime Pitch but we would engage it and beat it like Perseus defeated the Krakken (all we would need is a ton of dimes and if someone could dig up a mechanical owl, that would have been fantastic).

Labor Day Weekend, 1992, my group of friends and I piled into an assortment of cars on Byram Street in Mount Penn and headed to the Farm and our first trip to the McClure Bean Soup Festival and the Dime Pitch.
Before undertaking the three hour ride to the Farm, all of us had robbed any loose change sitting unprotected in our respective homes. What my father had worked years to accumulate in his large tin filled with change took me mere moments to slash down to nickels and pennies (I took a vast majority of the quarters too. Hey, I had to pay for my Merit cigarettes somehow).

We arrived to the Farm, pockets and bags bulging and weighed down with our dimes (forgoing clean clothing for dimes), the Friday before the Bean Soup. We stoked up a fire as sort of a impromptu pep rally before the next nights events. We gathered around laughing and bragging about how many glasses we were going to win. Then, out of the darkness, silhouetted by the moonlight, our friend’s dad came to the fire. It was time to listen to more stories of the Bean Soup and the Dime Pitch from a man who had witnessed both (this was like being told a story of a shark attack from the victim himself). The glow of the fire bounced off of his bald head as he spun us the history and tradition that has led to this grandiose event. He polished off a six pack of beer while telling it and as intense as we had thought his speech was, was exactly how abrupt he cut off and went to bed. Left to our own devices (we figured out where the rest of his beer was) we watched the fire burn down to embers while practicing our dime pitching techniques.

Saturday night we readied ourselves. Roman gladiators clad in Division I college sweatshirts and unwashed jeans. Armed with Folgers coffee cans filled with our 10 cent ammunition. Ready to do battle in the coliseum of the McClure Bean Soup Festival’s Dime Pitch to win our wooden swords of freedom in the shape of mixed drinking glasses.

The anticipation heading down the highway was palpable (As was our odor. A horrid mix of body odor, smoke for a bonfire, and cigarettes had every window in all of the cars rolled down). Like a six year olds on the way to the beach, every five minutes someone asked if we were there yet. Our heads swiveled with anticipation as if we were dogs out for a Sunday drive. Unlike our homes in lower suburbia where everything is within walking distance or a forty five second car ride, McClure had a more spread population per capita. Meaning a trip to the grocery store required at least 25 minutes of mere travel time alone.
Forty minutes later we came upon the Festival. It announced itself to all of us like the alien mothership in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The 100 watt bulbs of the vendors lit the sky and the sound of spinning metal rides and thousands of people having conversations with one another filled the air. A sea of locals were moving in and out of the festival with their over sized stuffed animals and empty cups of French fries (now being used as makeshift spit cups for their dip).

Then an omen, like the bat flying through Bruce Wayne’s window, we caught the sight of one local making his way to his 1986 Chevy Silverado and in his hands were two glasses with a Genessee beer label on each. He had obviously been to the Dime Pitch and was on his way home to admire his winnings (or drink copious amounts of alcohol from them).

Our moment was upon us.

It would soon be our time to pitch our way into the history books.

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