Throughout my life I think the season that has changed the most is summer. With Memorial Day being the unofficial start of summer, I started thinking about what the season used to be like. …
Throughout my life I think the season that has changed the most is summer. With Memorial Day being the unofficial start of summer, I started thinking about what the season used to be like.
One thing I have noticed is with rare exceptions you don’t see children playing outside anymore. I remember as a child always being outside in the summer, usually playing baseball.
I played organized baseball, but that didn’t stop kids in my neighborhood from playing variations of the game during the day. We would get four or five people together and that was enough for a game.
We played with a tennis ball in a small empty field at the home of Billy and Gary Dearing. Edmund Drive was the warning track. The home run fence was a row of meticulously groomed rose bushes on the far side of the street.
At Darrell Hartsfield’s house whiffle ball was the game. And if we wanted a change of pace, he had a paved and lighted basketball court.
Mrs. Hartsfield was an artist for Josten’s. Her art was used on greeting cards issued by pro sports teams and were drawn in great detail. Her work easel was located in her kitchen. How she worked with a bunch of guys making noise just outside her window I will never know.
If we were really ambitious and could get enough people together, we would play real baseball on a large field beside Pat Stubblefield’s house.
In the fall we played football in a field beside my house. Think about how few times you see such games being played in today’s video game world. But it wasn’t just neighborhood games.
During the summer months each of the elementary schools offered a program with open gyms, table tennis and baseball teams for players who didn’t play on one of the local Little League teams.
From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. with an hour off for lunch, I, along with several others spent the day at Madison Street School, now the offices of the Bedford County Board of Education.
Jim Warren, and later Joe Ingram, oversaw the programs there. In the mornings, the school teams practiced. Some of us who were on Little League teams worked with players wanting to improve their games.
Despite the heat, and lack of air conditioning, basketball in the gym was a big draw with players from all races and economic levels playing together.
I don’t recall a single instance where anyone felt like fighting anyone. Table tennis was also popular.
Quinton Stimpson beat me in the city finals at least three years in a row. I never could figure his game out. This walk down memory lane does have a purpose. I know that high school sports, especially football, are a year-round effort.
Travel teams are available for talented players of all ages. You don’t have to tell me times have changed in many ways.
But I can’t help but think that simplifying life through physical activities and shunning the television, especially video games, might make a positive difference in a world that seems to be spiraling out of control.
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