August 9, 2010

Bill Plaschke, of the LA Times, gave us this feel-good story.

“Sylvia Fisk, 88, and Esther Rosen, 83, are inseparable, having lived together for 50 years. But the
strongest bond the sisters share is the Dodgers — they’ve been going to games since 1972, the year Sylvia
got a concession-stand job. She still works there, and Esther still joins her at Dodger Stadium nightly.”

“Esther Rosen leans against the concrete wall outside the elevator on the top level of Dodger Stadium. It
is a Thursday evening at 5:20 p.m. The doors open and out steps her older sister, Sylvia Fisk.

“There you are!” shouts Esther.

“Here I am,” says Sylvia.

Sylvia steps into the sunlight, gently places her sister’s right hand into the crook of her left arm, and
carefully escorts her back onto the elevator. Together they ride down to the loge level, then walk slowly
arm in arm down the empty concourse.

“If I fall, you fall,” says Esther.

”You won’t fall,” says Sylvia.

They stop at Section 129, at one of the most unusual seats in the stadium. It is in the top row, but it is
the only seat in the row, a concrete post on the right, the aisle on the left. Sylvia helps Esther sit on
the yellow plastic and places a white paper bag containing a wrapped hamburger in her lap.

“My special seat,” says Esther.

“Best in the house,” says Sylvia.

Sylvia touches Esther’s shoulder with a soft goodbye, and continues walking down the concourse to the
concession stand opposite Section 141. This is where she will spend tonight’s game against the San Diego
Padres, working as a lightning-fast cashier with a calculator mind. She will take only one 10-minute break
midway through the game, to walk back and check on Esther, to see if she’s hungry or to escort her to the

“You don’t really need to do that,” says Esther.

“I know I don’t,” says Sylvia.

When the game ends, Sylvia will check out of her job, walk back down the concourse and carefully escort
Esther back upstairs and outside to a handicapped spot in the parking lot. In a red Chevy Malibu, perhaps
with Nancy Bea Hefley on their CD player, they will drive back to the condo they share on a busy Pico
Rivera street. Together they will watch the late news in their tiny family room, then amble upstairs to
sleep in the same king-size bed.

“I’m afraid of earthquakes,” says Esther.

“I don’t blame her,” says Sylvia.

The next morning they will awaken early and prepare to do it all over again, this unusual daily ritual that
not only defines their existence, but embellishes it with a sort of gray, wrinkled, wondrous beauty.

Sylvia is 88, Esther is 83, and they’ve been drawing precisely this same deep Dodger Stadium breath for 38

“Our family,” says Esther.

“Pretty much,” says Sylvia.

They don’t do it for the glamour — in nearly four decades, neither woman has ever met a player. They don’t
do it for the money — Sylvia makes barely $13 an hour, and pays more than $5,000 for the season ticket she
buys for her sister, including a $15 daily parking fee so they can park close enough for the severely
arthritic Esther to walk inside.

They do it for the connection. They do it for the smiles, the hugs, the exchanges they share with the
Levy’s concession employees and Dodgers security guards and longtime fans. They do it for the kisses that
men spontaneously place on Esther’s cheek, for the compliments that the prolific Sylvia hears from her
bosses, for the joy they feel on opening day, for the tears they shed in October.

“I tell her, she can never quit working, because I can’t stop coming to the games,” says Esther.

“It kind of does give you a reason to get up in the morning,” says Sylvia.

For all its flaws of age, this remains one of the wonderful things about Dodger Stadium. It is Los
Angeles’creaky front porch, a place where people come not only to watch baseball games, but to grow old,
sustain relevancy, maintain a human touch.

“You don’t really see that anymore, do you?” asks Esther Jones, the manager of Sylvia’s concession stand.
“Two sisters who will do anything to stay together forever? We all get emotional just watching them.”

As children growing up in Los Angeles, Sylvia and Esther were separated after the death of their mother.
They were reunited when they were in their 20s, and have been living together for the last 50 years. Sylvia
is a widow, Esther is divorced, and both are childless.

“Just us,” says Esther.

“Well, yeah, us and all those people,” says Sylvia.

When Sylvia landed the job at Dodger Stadium in 1972, she could not, for various medical reasons, leave
Esther at home alone, so she brought her sister with her to work. She’s been doing it ever since, even
though it used to mean leaving Esther in the car in the parking lot for a couple of hours before the gates

These days, thanks to the Dodgers’ generosity, Esther spends the pregame time waiting inside in the shade,
in the top-level media entrance, leaning against a counter and staring into space as the reporters hurry

“It’s an amazing story,” says Diana Chico, a Dodgers security guard. “Everybody knows her, everybody
watches out for her.”

Then, every night, at precisely 5:20 p.m., a Dodgers employee helps her walk to the wall, where she waits
for the elevator door to open and her sister to guide her inside, thus reuniting what has become one of the
Dodgers’ most memorable double-play combinations.

Esther to Sylvia to life.”

Chris Erskine of the LA Times wrote about retro-reading.

“They say these Kindles and other electronic reading gizmos will replace books one of these days, and to
that I say, “NOT SOON ENOUGH!”
I am all for that. I can never get paperbacks or hardcovers to work. They won’t hold a charge, and they’re
so hard to reboot.
The other day, I was trying to upgrade a cherished old copy of “The Great Gatsby” and I couldn’t get the
install to go. Then it froze up on me. I mean, it wouldn’t do anything, this stupid book. It wouldn’t
upload, it wouldn’t download. It just sat there. Seriously, the traditional book must be the dumbest, most
antiquated thing ever.
Yep, books blow. It seems only right that they have no future, for their past is so mixed. A book never
changed the world. Oh, there was the Bible, sure, and Shakespeare wrote some stuff that might’ve advanced
love and language, so what? Surely “Tom Sawyer” was pretty good in its day, but children change and so
should books.
There was also, if I remember, “Mein Kampf,” which didn’t really do the world much good, not to mention any
of the crud Nicholas Sparks ever wrote. See, books aren’t only obsolete. Many can be harmful. I actually
can’t wait to see them go.
Know what I really hate? Days like this — warm August afternoons by a lake or an ocean, when there’s a gnat
floating in your margarita, both of you comatose. On a perfect day like this, how do many people spend the
time? They ruin it with books.
Fitzgerald and Conroy, Updike and King. Those are just some of the writers to be wary of. John Irving? I’ve
wasted weeks of my life reading his novels, cover to cover to cover to cover.
Here’s more good news: If we don’t need hardcover books, soon we will no longer need bookstores, or those
annoying old libraries where, if you’re not careful, you end up whiling away an entire day.
Ever spent a rainy afternoon in a library or a bookstore? There’s nothing worse. As a young man, I was once
seduced in a bookstore. Her name was Jane Smiley. I loved her. She didn’t even know I existed. That’s the
heartbreak of books.
Perhaps worse than libraries or bookstores are those homes lined with books. I’ve rented summer cottages
just brimming with books. Do people really think that’s appealing? Really, a home full of books is no home
at all.
What happens in such a place is that you start browsing till you find a title you just can’t resist. You’ll
crack open the book, and it’ll smell a little musty, like the forest after a good rain. And, if you’re
really unlucky, its binding will crackle like an old set of stairs.
You know what’ll happen next? You’ll sack out on the couch or on an Adirondack chair in the yard, and
you’ll get lost in this book. The next thing you’ll know, the whole day is ruined.
Yep, a book can go anywhere — the beach, the bathroom, the moon. They are so low-tech they can ingest salt
or sand or sunscreen and still keep right on working. No company would ever support that kind of lame
technology. Imagine producing a product that would still work in 100 years. That would just be stupid. Who
could make money like that?
Obviously, a book is an awful, out-of-date thing. I have no patience with them, the way they steal our
attention and clutter up our lives forever. To be rid of them is the best possible outcome.
In fact, here’s what these soon-to-be-gone books remind me of: They remind me of oysters, another
simple-stupid thing that evolution left behind. Oysters are just ridiculously succulent rocks. And books
are just ridiculously succulent trees (but with a few more pearls).
So, yeah, it’s a no-brainer to get rid of books; we’re actually lucky to see them go. Good riddance, books.
Please take those lousy oysters with you.”


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