I believe in yesterday, but yesterday’s gone
Seems like yesterday - But yesterday’s gone! I was cruising down Stockley Street passing Schoolvue across from the new Rehoboth Elementary Tuesday afternoon, taking a look back into local history. I was remembering that outdoor basketball court, and Saturday and Sunday morning games where the best local talent converged with beastly out-of-town ballers. That court and its culture are gone. I reflected on one early Saturday when I went down to sit on the bench and capture the characters with the idea of writing a story. But the story I found was not the one I was looking for. The court was in disrepair, and many of the Afro-American adult athletes felt the underlying reason was racial bias, that tennis courts were pushing out the basketball courts because neighbors didn’t want black people hanging in their neighborhood on weekend mornings in the summertime. Black men, many graduates of the Cape system now working professionally, conceded, “We’re not saying racism was the reason, but that is what it looks like.” I wrote the story I found. I suggested these guys make an appointment with Superintendent Andy Brandenberger (former Marine officer who understood leadership) and that I would give Andy a heads-up and fill him in on background. There was no money left in the budget for capital improvements that summer that hadn’t been earmarked for other projects. But Bill Bright of Rehoboth and others shared concerns with Andy, and a month later, the courts were paved. I remember it like it was yesterday. It was 1996, nearly a quarter-century ago. I got winners!
Coach confabulation - I was leaving Rehoboth Tuesday and saw my friend of 45 years, coach B.J. Joseph, cutting his grass. I pulled off to the side; B.J. shut down his push mower and came over to the passenger window as I snapped his photo with a lens too big, and it was instant old-school storytelling time. B.J. was backup guard on the 1975-76 Cape state championship basketball team; he later coached freshmen at Cape before securing head coaching jobs at Laurel, then Milford before finishing his coaching career at Indian River. He is still a social studies teacher dealing with all this Zoom instruction. “You would hate it,” BJ said, “because I know how laid-back you were as a teacher.” I thought, “You know it’s hard enough being evaluated by teenagers along the lame-brain continuum of coolness. I can’t imagine my face on the dinner table talking to 25 families at the same time.” B.J. did tell me that at the end of the school road where balls roll down to the creek with its proliferation of snapping turtles, there are plans for a basketball court and pickleball courts. B.J. and I agreed that the old school venue in Rehoboth was simply the best and was fundamental to Cape’s basketball success.
Senior simpatico - A social media thing – people are posting their senior photos in sympatico with the class of 2020 who will miss the chance to annoy some senior class 50 years into the future. I used to joke to my classes, “Hey, want talk about me for awhile?” The answer, “No offense, Fredman, but not really. We’d rather talk about us.” Cape softball has six of 13 roster players as members of the senior class. They are Isabella Conte, Ryleigh Elliott, Kelsey Huling, Kaniah James, Carlin Quinn and Gianna Vayda. This team was going to make noise; perhaps a four-week season is still in the future? Seniors on the baseball roster include Robert Baxley, Mason Carrow, Sean Clendaniel, Levi Clifton, Lucas Johnson, Edward Joyce and Kristoffer Medford. We all miss being able to share history with these young athletes, as in their history, not ours.
Snippets - Lockdown, shutdown, shelter-in-place and keeping social distance remind me of a beautiful song, “The Nearness of You,” written in 1938 by Hoagy Carmichael and Ned Washington. And that does it – if I ever get another dog, his name shall be Hoagy; although, I may also call him Shortie, Subbie, Torpedo or Hero. I also kind of like Grinder and Calzone. One of the best names in NCAA basketball history was Baskerville Holmes. Holmes got his name from the Sherlock Holmes story. He played for the Memphis team that reached the final four in 1985. The story ended tragically in 1997, when Holmes died in a murder-suicide, shooting his girlfriend then himself. There is only one way out of this column and that is quickly. Go on now, git!