As I went outside for my 1 hour of exercise today it was real cool, about 42 degrees, it quickly brought back some really, old, old great basketball memories.
What is my hour of exercise? It is shooting hoops for an hour in my backyard in the afternoon, daily from 3:00pm to 4:00pm.
The brisk fall air reminded of all the times that we played basketball in my backyard at 300 Birch St. in Bangor as a kid in the fall during the months of October and November.
When I was a second grader at Abraham Lincoln School I used to watch the 6th graders playing basketball at recess and before and after school on the outdoor court in the school yard.
I was so mesmerized by the game that I asked my dad if he could put up a hoop for me off our barn in the backyard. He put one up for me and I shot on that hoop for hours and hours.
When I entered the 5th grade, because he saw how interested and dedicated I was to using that hoop my dad asked me if I would like to have another basket put up off a big tree at the other end of the driveway so that there could be 2 hoops so my friends and I could play full court.
The court was about 60 by 20 feet in dimensions just about big enough for 3 on 3 or 4 on 4 action. I don’t know how many times we shoveled off that court to play in the winter from then to even my years in high school after the season was over.
Shooting for that hour today brought back to me all those great memories of when you could see your breath as we raced back and forth on the court.
My dad even put up a couple of lights so that we could play when the shortened days of winter started around 4 o-clock pm.
There were weekend days especially on Sundays that we would have over 20 kids playing winners stay in, losers sit out band wait your turn to play again.
Back then the only inside gyms in Bangor were the 2 at the junior high schools (Garland St. Jr. High and 5th St. Jr. High), one at Mary Snow Elementary School, the Old Bangor High School Gym with the very low ceiling on Harlow Street, the old yellow painted Bangor Auditorium (Originally called the Bangor Exhibition Building for the Bangor fair) situated were the current Cross Insurance Center sits, the Bangor Seminary Gym and the Bangor YMCA.
The school gyms were only available during school hours and after school with intramurals and for school teams. The Bangor Auditorium and the Seminary gym were not available unless there was adult supervision.
The old downstairs gym at the Bangor YMCA which had a running track above the court so it was hard to shoot from the corners. It was used for church league on Saturdays and for vacation leagues on during Christmas Vacation and the February vacation week.
So the only outdoor court at that time with 2 hoops so you could play full-court was in my back yard.
From the late forties and to mid fifties we played on school teams. In Elementary school the only gym between the four elementary schools at that time was the Mary Snow School gym on Broadway. The other 3 schools were Abraham Lincoln (same site as today), Hannibal Hamlin (were there is a drug store now at the corners of Ohio St. and Hammond Street) and the Larkin Street schools.
We had a 6th graders league, where each team got to practice once or twice a week at the Mary Snow gym and the games were played on Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings.
So we had to play in my backyard on the other days. As we moved up the basketball ladder in junior high school (7-8-9) grades we got to play intramurals and if you were lucky enough to make the junior high teams then playing outdoors was not needed as much.
However, we still usually played outdoors on Saturdays (if we didn’t have a church league game at the Y or we played before or after playing in the church league) and Sundays. w
We also always played in the Y’s vacation league tournaments.
On Sundays we were not allowed to play until after church…no basketball until after 1:00pm on my court.
In high school playing on the JV team as sophomore and on the varsity as a junior and senior we did not play in my back yard during the high school basketball season from November to the first of March, because our high school coach had a rule about playing hoops anywhere except at practice or games..
Basketball was usually a Monday thru Friday high school and an occasional Saturday activity. Used to ref in the Y’s church league on Saturday afternoons for $2.50 a game as a high school junior and senior.
However, that did not stop the non high school players from playing in the backyard as I had to just watch the action.
When I played in college my dad took the hoops down at the end of my sophomore year in 1956. Literally, hundreds of boys played in my backyard over the 10 years the 2 hoops were up from 1947 to 1956.
So I started this shooting around for my exercise on the baskets in my current home 2 years ago. However, this is not 300 Birch Street.
Today’s weather just brought back so many great basketball memories of shooting around on Birch St. by myself early in the morning or later at night when everyone else had gone home when feeling the cool brisk air against my face from the breeze that was blowing.
I’ll shoot every day I can (if it is not raining) until the snow covers the court.
Thanks dad, for all those great memories you gave me.