“Baseball, hotdogs, Applegate and Chevrolet” … no, I didn’t mistype that … if you’re from mid-Michigan, you might remember this jingle from the 1970’s and 80’s for a car dealership in Flint. I was sure I would be able to find the recording somewhere on the internet, but, believe it or not, I wasn’t able to. I did find however, that Chevrolet had an ad slogan in the 1970’s of “Baseball, hotdogs, apple pie and Chevrolet”, which is I’m sure where the Applegate company got the idea. Anyway … I digress. One of my most recent reads is what took me on this little trip down memory lane. “The All-American” by Susie Finkbeiner combines a story of one of those all-American things – baseball, and something that is most definitely UN-American – Communism.
“The All-American” tells the story of Bertha and Flossie and their family who live in the fictional town of Bonaventure Park, Michigan (near Detroit). Bertha loves baseball and dreams of playing for the All-American Girls professional baseball team, the Workington Sweet Peas. Flossie is a bookworm who just wants to fit in. Their father is a relatively well-known author, in fact, his latest book is slated to be turned into a movie! Life is pretty good for the Harding family in 1952 -- Bertha has proven herself to the boys of the town and is allowed to play ball with them, Flossie is learning to navigate becoming a young woman … and then Mr. Harding is accused of being a member of the communist party.
Right from the beginning, Mr. Harding denies any connections with the Communist party and insists he is not a Communist, but being in the middle of the Red Scare, people were quick to point fingers, and believe the accuser over the accused. The Harding family is ultimately driven from their home in Bonaventure Park and have to go live with their Uncle Matthew, who it turns out, went to college with and is friends with the manager of the Workington Sweet Peas. Will Bertha realize her dream of playing professional baseball? Will Flossie make new friends and learn to fit in? Will Mr. Harding’s career survive the accusations against him? Read “The All-American” by Susie Finkbeiner to find out, I think you will really enjoy this novel.
Finkbeiner has hit it out of the park yet again. (Sorry for the pun, I couldn’t help myself!)