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Why Can't You Be Like Eddie?

Why can't you be like Eddie?". all of my family used to ask me. I never had an answer for that when I was a kid. Eddie was my first cousin. At 6 years old we were the same age. Eddie wasws from Swissvale, PA, a suburb of Pittssburg. I was from youngstown, Ohio. Ever since we were old enough to talk we had a rivalry between us. He was a Pittsburg Steeler's fan and I was a Cleveland Brown's fan. I was a Cleveland Indians' fan and he was a Pittsburg Pirates' fan. WE argued about everything.

Eddie lived a very sheltered life. He was raised a strict Catholic and attend a Catholic school from grade 1 to 12. His family had more money than ours and he used to brag about that a lot. I'll never forget one Christmas when He and I were at our grandmother's house with the rest of the family for a traditional Christmas dinner where everyone usually got drunk. Eddie's father was not there yet. He was driving his way from Pittsbugh to Youngstown. The was on December 1948. Eddie and I were both 6 years old.

Eddie kept bragging about how his father was going to bring him some Roy Roger's cap; p;istols. We even who was tyhe best cowboy. His was Roy Rogers and mine was Gene Autry. I was really getting annoyed by his bragging. I sure was jelous of him and I knew Christmas was not going to be nice. I could just picture him shooting his chrome plated cap guns at me as I stood helpless with no guns to defend myself.
The phone rang. my grandmother answered it. After a few moments she started wailing and crying. Eddie's father had been hit by a train at a railway crossing and was killed instantly.
I hid my emotions. Inside my brain I was jumping for joy, but I acted like I was really sad. It turned out to be a great Christmas. When I think back about it, I realized how mean kids can really be. I ahd not developed a conscience yet so it did not bother me a bit.

Eddie's mom did not remarry for 12 years. She made a living as a schooll crossing guard. She was very strict and dominering over Eddie. Eddie made straight A's in school. He started playing baseball when he was about 6 years old. When he was 11 he joined the little league in Swissvale. His first game on his team he hit four home runs in the game. It was in the Swissvale papers. When he came to Youngstown for a visit his mother brought the newspaper article and never let me forget it by making me read it every time they came to visit.

eddie use to beat me at any sports we played. He used to beat me at everything. My one mean uncle used to laugh at me when he beat me and ask in a mocking voice, "Whey can't you be like Eddie?"

Eddie was good at baseball his whole life. He was good friends with Stan a famous Pittsburg Pirate's star from the 50's. He was a hall of famer.
Stan got him a tryout with the Pirates but he did not make the team.

I left home in 1960, after I graduated from HS. I did not see Eddie again until 1968 after I had returned home from Europe. I drove to the college he attended in a small PA town. He was ldiving in a dormitory on the campus at the time.

It was a great visit. Eddie had changed a lot since we were kids. He no longer had that arragonce about him. In fact he was extremely complimenty towards me. I spent a day there talking to him, then bid him farwell.
Two years later I got a call from home from my father telling me that Edduie had committed suicide. My father told me that Eddie had revealed to everyone in the family that he was gay just before his death.

Looking back I thought that maybed if I had been around I could have helped him. It's amazing how a family can drive some people to kill lthemselves. I wish they could all be like Eddie
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