A few days after the death of Joe DiMaggio, there
was an article in the NY Times, written by Paul Simon. Mr. Simon, as many people know, wrote and recorded the song;
Mrs. Robinson, which had the lyrics:
Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio
A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.
What’s that you say Mrs. Robinson?
Joltin’ Joe has left and gone away.
The article described the first time Paul Simon met
Mr. DiMaggio. It was in a
restaurant in NYC after the song had been released.
Paul was very apprehensive about the meeting because Mr. DiMaggio
did not appreciate the reference made to him in the song and had, in
fact, considered a lawsuit over the lyrics.
But as the men ate, Joe was very cordial.
When the topic of the song came up he remarked that he just
didn’t understand it. He
said, at the time, that he was a national spokesman for Mr. Coffee and
as such was on TV often. Locally, he did commercials for a NY Bank.
He made many personal appearances.
Obviously, he hadn’t gone anywhere.
Paul explained that the song was not referencing
Joe DiMaggio the man, the human being, the person.
The song was about Joe DiMaggio the legend, the sports icon, the
American hero. The song was
lamenting the fact that, “we just don’t have heroes anymore.”
A few months later, John Glenn made his historic
return to space. The
interest in his flight was great because, as it was expressed many times
in the media, he was the “last American Hero.”
Let me make this clear: There is NO shortage of
heroes in this country or the world.
We oftentimes look for them in the wrong places.
But they are in our homes, they are in our schools, and they are
especially in fire stations, police stations, hospitals and military
bases. They are of both sexes, all races, all religious persuasions and
all walks of life, but especially those who put themselves in harm’s
way to protect us.
I did not know Jack Fanning. That is my loss I am sure.
He IS my hero. I
pray that when I die I get to Heaven so I can shake his hand.
I ask God to grant comfort to those who loved him.
Casamento (MC ’69)