Monday, July 17, 2017

home of the owls

"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

another lost gym?

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

keeping promises

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

noah's barn

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.

Monday, May 8, 2017

home of the blasters

When most Hoosiers awoke on the morning of February 26, 1956 it seemed like an ordinary Sunday in late winter/early spring.  The temperature in the southern part of the state would start out in the high 20s, but would hit 54 by days end and although Dwight Eisenhower was president, the Platters were the hot topic of conversation with their #1 hit The Great Pretender. But Sunday February 26 wasn't just a normal day for Keith Huber of St. Paul - it was a day of endless possibilities. You see, Huber and his teammates Don Gordon, Jerry Owens, Jim Harris and Ray Bostic had defeated Greensburg the night before, 44-42, for the Sectional championship - the second one in school history for the Blasters (1941 was the first).  So on this Sunday, an unwritten page of their basketball history lay ahead - with the possibility of a Regional, Semi-State or even State crown to come.  If Milan had done it two years before, why not St. Paul?  But, by Saturday evening March 3, Huber & the Blasters had fallen to a very good Scottsburg squad and like most in the state, would sit back and watch Crispus Attucks march to a second state title.  

Today, St. Paul is a sleepy little town that the main highway has passed by (I-74 is two miles north) and in 1968 the Blasters were consolidated into North Decatur (some students living close to the town attend nearby Waldron). Although the school and team are gone, the gym remains and if you stop by on a Friday night you just might find Keith Huber there, no longer jumping center (he is #55 on the outside window) or pulling down rebounds but helping local kids play ball and appreciate the gifts of growing up in a small town. CGS.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

look up, look down

Basketball all around at Pine Village, Perry Central & English.  CGS.

Friday, April 28, 2017