"The first game of basketball was played on Christmas Day (1900) on the school ground. Students and teachers had raised a fund and bought a ball. As no one knew how to play, although all had poured over the rulebook for many anxious hours and did learn enough to put up baskets, the principal invited...a Portland High School student to...bring a pick up team to show our boys how to play the game." And learn the game they did. In their days as a high school (before they were consolidated into Jay County) the Bryant Owls would win the Hartford City Sectional twice (1958 & 1963), have a 20 win season in 1941 and would go 54-13 in a three year stretch from 1966-1968. Unlike their neighbor Pennville to the east, the town of Bryant has found a way forward for their old gym (built in 1950-51), as it now serves the area as a community center. And on the June day I visited, a spirited Euchre tourney was under way. As we've seen several times before, a dedicated community with a little creativity and the energy to raise funds, can go a long way in preserving their basketball history. CGS.
Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Except for a few packing boxes, the halls & classrooms at Pennville Elementary are empty. The students and teachers have left for the summer - probably forever. Rex Pinkerton's life as a principal sits in piles in his office; he is resigned to the fact that his school is closing. Not enough enrollment, says the corporation. As he shows me around the old gym, there is pride in his voice as he tells me its history and shows me old newspaper clippings. Dedicated in 1953 and built by the community, there is basketball history in Pennville with four Sectional titles (one after this gym was built). But all of that may be erased soon as no one seems sure what is to become of the school & gym. Hopefully, with the support of the corporation and community, the former home of the Bulldogs will live on. This is too great a place to end in decay. But for now, the bleachers & trophy cases will remain empty and Rex Pinkerton will be the only cheerleader in the stands. CGS.
Saturday, May 27, 2017
Twenty-nine years ago on an Ohio Magazine shoot I made a promise that I couldn't keep - I offered to send a photo to one of the folks in the story. 1988 was a time of slide film, lab processing and Cibachrome prints - long before digital & email. In other words, sending someone a copy of a photo was a lot of work and truth be told, I knew I wouldn't send one. Years of minor guilt ensued. So, when we started the basketball project three years ago I made the decision to follow up on every photo request (& there have been a lot). I email links, digital files and even deliver prints. Last year when I took my summer workshop students upriver to Augusta I made some photos of the old Augusta gym and told the principal that I would send along some photos (I did email the blog link) so yesterday (a year later to the day) I delivered two 13x19 prints to the school. Keeping promises does feel good. CGS.
Saturday, May 13, 2017
LaPorte's Civic Auditorium, New Castle, Southern Wells, Pine Village, West Vigo, Shelbyville, Huntingburg, Whiting, Knox - just a few of the gyms that upon entering give you pause. Purpose built spaces that have soul; places where you can imagine something special happening. And then today, Noah's barn -- a cathedral-like hayloft in Amish country, just waiting for a game. CGS.