Thursday, July 27, 2017

a most beautiful gym

"I must learn more of my homeland for it's paradise to me, there's no haven quite as peaceful, there's no place I'd rather be."  These words, from the Indiana State Poem, were penned by Kendallville's native son Arthur Franklin Mapes and could easily be about the poet's neighboring town, home to the wonderful old court of the Butler Windmills. The Windmills, now part of the DeKalb County Eastern School District & Eastside High School, won their lone Sectional title in 1942 but celebrated their finest season in 1955 with a 20-3 record.  The gym, located next to the Superintendent's office, is being restored & cared for by the corporation and with folks like maintenance supervisor Rod Laux overseeing some of the work, the old home of the Windmills is certainly in good hands.  CGS.

Monday, July 24, 2017

double A

Avilla and Ashley -- twenty miles apart and five Sectional titles between them but after consolidation, different futures.
The Avilla Panthers are now an elementary school, part of the East Noble School Corporation but in 1940-41, 1954-55 and 1955-56 they celebrated 20 win, Sectional championship seasons.  Their northeastern neighbor's gym, former court of the Ashley Aces, now houses a community center and city & police offices.  Before the Aces were combined with Waterloo & Auburn to form DeKalb High School they won two Sectional titles, 1945-46 & 1963-64 and then went on to win first round Regional games.  Two old gyms, steeped in history and still serving their communities.  CGS.

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.