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Here’s Mine I was home in South Bend, Indiana, in my attic office, working on a novel involving coal miners, set against the backdrop of the 1984–85 NationalUnionofMinersstrikeinEngland.Thephoneranganditwas EricSandeen,theoldestchildofmyfriends,EileenandErnieSandeen. Eric, a professor of American Studies at the University of Wyoming, wasintowntogototheNotreDame-UniversityofSouthernCalifornia football game. His father was an emeritus professor of English at the university and Eric was using his tickets. And he had an extra one for the game that was to start in about an hour, which he offered to me. I had donated my tickets to some good cause. It was October 26th, 1991, and the fall weather was only fair: but the gray, overcast sky wasn’t supposed to turn into rain. My day’s work writing was about over, in any case: the cold, wet atmosphere of the novel’s English pit towns had seeped into me and the idea of getting outside was appealing. My novel, for a number of reasons, had been hard going. I decided to abandon it and attend the game. IwentdownstairsandtoldmywifeIwasleaving.Shewasworking at her computer, preparing testimony for an appearance as an expert witness (she is an economist) and looked at me skeptically, but bid me adieu. She said, “I’m so worried about Monday my heart hurts.” 1 2 Our fifteen-month-old, Joe, was downstairs with a babysitter, whom we had retained for three hours, so both my wife and I could getsomeworkdone.Ericwasimpatienttogetintothestadium(hewas an alum and wanted to bask in the pre-game show), so I was rushing to get there so as not to delay him any further. The coal miners of Great Britain would have to wait. I said goodbye to everyone in the house and took off. What going to the game meant was that Teresa would have to take care of Joe by herself after Maria, the babysitter, left. I had planned to watch the game on television , which would have left me able to look after Joe. We were attempting to divide looking after our boy fifty-fifty, which amounted in these modern arrangements to doing it seventy-five-seventy-five. Teresa’s father had been an all-American football player at Berkeley, but she was not a fan. Football was the bane of fall weekends for her as a new mother, just as it was when she was a young girl. We lived near the campus, but on a football weekend the university becomes a sports franchise and for me get to the closest parking availablerequiredacircuitousroute,throughSouthBend’sdowntown and then approaching the campus obliquely from the south, parking in a poor neighborhood adjacent to the campus. South Bend isn’t a college town and the university always has been separate from it, especially back in the heyday of the town, when the Studebaker car company was the city’s biggest employer. But now Notre Dame is the largest employer and, though the campus is still on its edge, it is central to the business interests here. I parked my old Volvo near Notre Dame Avenue, by the firsthouseI owned when I first moved to the town, about six blocks from campus. It is a neighborhood of student rentals and African American households, and a few junior faculty, which is what I had been when I lived there. Notre Dame Avenue is a wide street that goes straight into 3 the heart of the campus. It is wide because there are railroad tracks beneath layers of asphalt, tracks of the South Shore Railroad, since in the halcyon days of the midcentury, the era of Ronald Reagan as the Gipper, the South Shore Line used to come into the campus, as well as going straight through the middle of downtown South Bend. After parking, I walked quickly to the stadium. It was about a half-hour before kickoff. There were stragglers on the periphery of the campus, but most of the 60,000 people were either in or around the stadium, tailgating in the pay parking lots, swarming around the brick edges of the stadium like ants around a morsel. I met Eric beneath the entrance he specified and he gave me a ticket. It was a good seat, better than my own season tickets provided. Eric rushed in and I told him I’d join him after I got something at the concession stand. I hadn’t eaten lunch, so I wanted a hot dog. I stood in line, put in my order for a Polish...


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