September 29, 2010



Some memories live on forever. Your first horse, your first date, your first car…. I could go on, but just use your imagination.
This weekend Shirley and I attended a third grade girls’ basketball game. It was Gracy’s second game of the year. She tied for high scorer in a game the week before. Two points. That game ended with a tie, four to four.
This time, both the Harding County girls and the Bowman girls came out with hot hands. The result was the same. A tie. Twelve to twelve! The kids loved it. The crowd loved it. The refs were outstanding. And Gracy should have won defensive player of the game. She kept her defensive assignment under close guard. On both ends of the court!
But watching it took me back about fifty-five years. Or maybe a little longer.
Play day at Berthold. The old school. One of those like you drive by now that sits with broken windows. Or a ghost of the school watches over a vacant lot in a small town. The playground that once was filled with kids at recess is now covered with weeds or gravel. The swing set and ball diamond exist only in your memory.
This was one of those old gyms. Hardwood floor. Small stage at the end. Players on the bench had to hold their feet back to keep off the playing floor. The center jump circle overlapped the circle above the free throw line. Low ceilings limited the ability to put arc on any shot beyond fifteen feet. A small set of bleachers for the parents that weren’t in the field during the ball game. Little concrete dressing rooms.
I was a first grader. This was before TV. At least for us. I had never attended a ball game. I was a country kid. The first grade was to play the second grade. The teacher was excited. I was a little nervous. The teacher explained that those of us that didn’t have tennis shoes could play in our stocking feet (much like my last, and only, city league game, but that’s another story). If we didn’t have basketball trunks, we could just wear shorts.
Wear shorts! I was a cowboy! I mean I had Roy Rogers’s shirts and Gene Autry pistols! Shorts are what you wore under your Levi’s. I hadn’t yet learned how to swear, but I sure wasn’t going to let the public see my legs. Have you ever seen Roy, or Gene’s legs? Lash LaRue? The Lone Ranger? Marshall Dillon? You get my point.
But, I came up with a secret solution. I didn’t even tell Mom.
You could imagine her pride in her son, when the first graders came running out of that cold, damp locker room. Her pride and joy, bringing up the rear, wearing long underwear and a cowboy hat!
Once you’re a Berthold Bomber, you’re a Bomber forever!
Go Gracy!