Mailbag: Hoop memories

I’d like to thank everyone who wrote to me regarding my Wednesday column, reminiscing about my first basketball goal and diverging, for a short time, on things that make basketball mean so much to us around here.

So many people wrote stories of their own, and I’d like to share a few with you.

Scott Reynolds of WAVE-3 television sent a quick note . . .

great article today eric! I used to shoot at a hoop in the top floor of our dairy barn. Once it was full of hay, I had to wait until about late October or November before the cows ate enough bales to make room for shooting. The dust coming off the floor would fill my nostrils by the time I was done! Keep up the good work!

From Mark McAllister

Mr. Crawford,

Reading your article today reminded me of mine and my brother’s childhood. We grew up on Buck Creek Road in Floyd’s Knobs. In those days in the late 60s and early 70s we started playing basketball on the road. One of the dads nailed an iron ring to a tree on the side of the road. The neighborhood would gather for games after school. The girls would watch for cars and keep score. There were very few in those days. It is quite different now. The iron ring is still visible if you know where to look.

Around 1970, our father, Larry, bought a gas station and it needed a new sign pole. He did not like us playing on the road. Like your father he made us a deal. If we could dig the hole for the old pole he would set it in concrete and put a goal on it. The sign post was in an L shape and by putting the goal on the front you could run under it for a layup. My brother and I worked all summer with a pick and dshovel to dig the 4 x 4 x 5 foot hole. True to his word we had the best court around. Lots of times friends would just get off the bus to play. We played on gravel for years, but then dad had the court paved and we were in seventh heaven. We had a blast for years, without computers, iPods, etc.

My brother (Mike) became quite the player. I as never as gifted as he. We lost Mike several years ago, but nothing can take away the memories. Thanks to our love of basketball, many of those happened on the courts of Buck Creek Road. Thank you for sharing your memories with us, they are definitely a gift.

From Jeff Davison

E, loved your article today. It brought back some very fond memories. I bet the ground under your goal was a hard as concrete, and slick as glass, just like mine. My grandmother had a farm in Grayson County. My dad hung an old rusty rim up on the back of her “wash-house.” Just like yours, my “court” was shaded by a walnut tree. The right edge of my court was the garden, and a row of cherry tomatoes. The back edge of my court was a gravel lane, with a rusty 55-gallon trash barrel burning garbage many a day as I played. If you strayed too far to the left side of my court, the ball would ricochet off of some maple tree roots. I remember on one weekend visit, my ball was flat as a fritter. Not to worry — I took a plastic milk jug (which I could palm but not dribble) and was Dr. J, Dan Issel, and Louie Dampier. This was in the early 70s, when the Kentucky Colonels and the ABA ruled these parts. Thanks for allowing me a stroll down the free-throw “memory” lane.

From Greg Willihnganz

Dear Eric:

I also had a bonding experience with my father when it came time to get a basketball hoop put up. I was 10 in 1956 when we moved into a house in Detroit that had been built by a lumberyard owner. He added a knotty pine paneled 4-car garage to the house and made the driveway big enough to service all four stalls. It was ideal for a basketball court and my father soon took measurements, calculated roofline angles, drew up plans, and made out a supply list. It was pretty straight forward: 1″ plywood sheet, 2x4s, carriage bolts and paint. He didn’t include the hoop itself since we would have to get that at the sporting goods store.

So he put me in the car and we drove to the lumberyard and Dad handed the guy his list. He glanced at it, looked my father in the eye and said “Putting up a basketball hoop, eh?” I was shocked. I couldn’t believe he could just look at that list of materials and suddenly devine what we were going to build. And in that moment, I realized I was a member of the fraternity of men: guys who can dream something up, plan it and build it. Make it happen.

I too played on my personal basketball court for a lot of years before college, but the biggest lesson I learned came before I ever took a shot.

Thanks for the column.

From Stuart Baldwin

A manger. Nice finish, Eric. You can go ahead and say it. Basketball IS a religion. In these parts, at least.

From Wade Whitfield in Madisonville

Hi Eric,

Your 10/14/2009 article on basketball (Hoops Fans Heaven), particularly the part about warming up your basketball, brought back an old memory for me, although not a particularly pleasant one. When I was a kid, as my next-door neighbors had a basketball goal mounted on their detached garage with a nice concrete driveway, we’d play practically every afternoon after school on that thing, all winter long. The ball we’d play with was an old ABA plastic basketball I had. However, if the ball wasn’t warm, there was NO WAY that thing would bounce. So I’d roll it back and forth on top of our old basement metal gas space heater to get it warm, run over next door and play for about 30 minutes, run back home, warm it up again, etc. Well, on one particularly cold winter afternoon, of course I got too greedy warming up the ball, and that thing popped like a balloon, melting right on top of the heater. I just stood there. I couldn’t believe it. Not only did I catch —- from my parents, I had to wait until spring (my birthday) to get another basketball. Man, that STILL gets to me. Anyway, thanks for the column.

And finally, from Jim Host

Today was the best column you have ever written because it captured every emotion that a young Kentuckian feels about his love for the game based on its history — I read it three times reliving it myself.

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27 thoughts on “Mailbag: Hoop memories

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