Just Me

Just Me
Look,I'm just sayin'

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The neighborhood house

 Folks from my hometown will know immediately what this blog is about. The neighborhood house isn't really a house at all, but what you might call a community center these days. It is situated in a portion of town I knew as round swamp. That was a shortened version of around the swamp I've been told. Strange thing is, I never saw any swamp at all in that general area. Not saying it isn't there just that I never saw it. There is an old cemetery there as well, I've got ancestors resting there I'm certain of that. I can't tell you right off which ones but they're there alright.
 But, back to the neighborhood house. I had heard my mother talk about it being there when she was a child. Mom was born in '29 right before the stock market crashed. When she was older her sisters told her it was her fault. The neighborhood house was used for community events and activities. Mom said they had quilting bees and such there. Right behind that building there was a clinic at one time as well. You local historians can fill in the details. I just remember it as a place I played basketball. I didn't go there often or for very long but do remember.
 On the right hand side of the building there was a basketball court. It was a rather odd arrangement. The court was as wide as the building so there was essentially no sidelines, at least not for spectators. There was a single row of chairs for the players on the " bench. " The spectators sat on a stage at one end of the court. That's right it was a stage used for plays and such. I was told by mom she saw a one man band play on that stage as a child. My Uncle Bob was quite the musician and the man let him try that setup. Mom says Uncle Bob played as well as the  entertainer. I wouldn't know about that but did hear Uncle Bob play his instruments one time. He was proficient at several and I was impressed. At the other end of the court were doors that led to a " locker " room. I was only about 12 or so and don't remember too much about that room. I was in there I'm certain of that much anyway. That was when I was playing basketball.
 I played for the church team. St. Lukes church, along with all the other churches in town sponsored a team. There were no tryouts, everybody that wanted to play was on the team. So, there were different ages as well. Like I said I believe I was about twelve and my brothers played too. They would have been sixteen and almost eighteen. I didn't get much playing time. I wasn't even very knowledgeable about the game itself. Living down to three mile harbor, on a dirt road, there wasn't any basketball courts. I didn't have a place to practice much but it didn't matter either. Anyway I remember taking the court for St. Lukes. It was quite a thrill to walk out on that hardwood floor, under the lights with folks watching from the stage.
 I remember one game in particular. May have been my first for the team but I can't say that with certainty. I was given the ball and drove to the basket. Pulling up short I made a jump shot and in it went. Two points for St. Lukes and I was pretty happy with myself. The rest of the first half was played and I scored no more. Following the halftime intermission, the cheerleaders performing their routines, I took to the court once again. It could be there just weren't enough players and that is why I got so much playing time, but the thing is I was out there. I remember getting the ball again, dribbling down the court, splitting the defense, I was on fire and threw up a layup ! Score ! I remember feeling like a star, hearing a lot of shouting and reveling in that moment. Then I heard what was being said. I had scored, for the other team ! I didn't know you changed baskets after the half ! I hadn't split the defense, they got out of the way ! Well, that was embarrassing. I can't honestly say I remember much more about that game. Today I like to excuse that as the only " Christian " thing I could have done. Two points for us, two points for them. I played other games but don't remember any of them. I do remember getting hit in the face with the ball. It broke my glasses and made quite the cut above my eye. The scar is there to this day.
 Those are my memories of the neighborhood house. A basketball game and almost getting my eye poked out ! LOl, good times in the neighborhood. Oh, I do remember going there with my father and great grandfather. That was the distribution point for those boxes of food the government handed out. That was before there was welfare checks. You got food to eat, whatever the government gave you, and that was it. I remember folks being damn glad they got that. I remember that mostly because Dad sure was busy letting everyone know it wasn't for him ! I don't think Great Grampa was none too pleased about it either but had little choice. That must have been sometime in the sixties. Gramp didn't want the cornmeal and gave it to my sister and I. We played with it and made " pies ." Wasted good food now that I think about it. He gave us the can of peanut butter too as he couldn't eat that, said it stuck to the roof of his mouth. We ate that, it was good peanut butter, you had to stir the oil back into it !
 As far as I know the neighborhood house is still there. I imagine it is serving much the same purpose as it always has. At least it's a comfort to think so.