Another season is almost upon us….Something I wrote on Nov. 1st of last year…
If you grew up then and attended one of the many small high schools in the state, you may remember this date. At that time there were a little over 700 high schools in the state and the majority of those schools were small, rural schools that did not have a football program. November 1st was the date the Indiana High School Athletic Association, ISHAA, would allow the basketball season to begin. I can still remember it like it was yesterday.
There is a line from an old Statler Brothers song that goes: “If I could just be a part of your memory the rest of your life.” Many happenings from that time, certainly including basketball, would be a part of those memories for me. November 1st, 1959 at 7:45 p.m. on a Friday night was the normal tip-off time for most school’s varsity games. On this November 1st it was the Blackhawk Chieftains vs. the Pimento Peppers. Now, stop laughing! The Chieftains are dressed in their traveling red and black uniforms, and they were led by veterans, Bobby Morse and Oscar Huntwork. (Oscar’s dad was my barber. He cut hair in the back of his small grocery store that the family operated.) The Peppers dressed in their home white with blue and orange trim; my old number was 40! I bet 99 per cent of the guys who played back then can remember their basketball uniform number. Mine, 40 on the home uniform, and 20 on the road.
It has been said, probably only by me, that in the late 1950s’ the best thing that could happen to a young Indiana high school boy who played basketball was three things. One, on a Friday night you’ve beaten the local school from a few miles down the road; two, your dad let you have the car for an after game date, and three, that one certain girl, would go out with you. If all that happened on the same night, the stars were truly aligned perfectly. Well, on that night the stars were aligned perfectly for me; the Peppers won on a last second shot in overtime! Yours truly scored 17 points, and yes I also fouled out. It was the start of my last year in high school, my last basketball season. I would like to say it was the beginning of a very winning season, but it was not. All four years of my being a Pepper, victory did not come often. By the way, for those of us who lived during that time, basketball wasn’t our only memory from those Friday nights, but a very significant one.
Last year on one of my basketball junkets back to Indiana, I attended an Indiana State University basketball game and ran into Oscar Huntwork. Neither he nor I looked nearly as intimidating as we once did, or thought we did, on that particular November night back in 1960.
November 1, 2014