Thursday, January 3, 2008

A New Century

Dr. Forgot's 100th Post

This is my one-hundredth post since Dr. Forgot blog began a couple of months ago. This post will step away from politics, Las Vegas and current events and reflect on other bits of banal activities. I grew up in Clairton, PA along the Monongahela River, just a short boat ride from Pittsburgh's Golden Triangle where the Monongahela meets the Allegheny River to form the Ohio. Such a meeting is called a confluence.

In the 1950s Clairtonians and others relaxed at Kennywood amusement park. I wrote of it in a post dated 12/27/07. From the post I heard from many for whom Kennywood had special memories. My old friend and classmate Donna L. wrote to remind me of the custom of families to take picnic baskets with them for the day. Baskets were placed on a picnic table under a shelter, then everybody went to the park to ride, swim, or to watch "The Amazing Cannonball Man" be shot out of a cannon and into a net. At lunch the families would return and their picnic baskets would be untouched.

Another classmate, Jim S. reminded me of great basketball standard caper. A group of young men played basketball in the church league. However the church had no gym for practice - which they needed desperately. Across town there stood a perfectly good basketball standard, complete with hoop, backboard, and net. It had been erected by the City for recreational use of the neighborhood kids. The boys church basketball team made some heady decisions: 1. they needed a basketball standard to become competitive, 2. The standard across town was hardly ever used, 3. why not dig it up and take it to the church.

In the dead of night (probably about 5 p.m.) the group, armed with shovels appropriated from their father's garages, stealthily crept up to the standard and began to dig around the concrete foundation to which the standard was anchored. Eventually the backboard, rim, net and pole, complete with what seemed like 500 pounds of cement were all liberated, transported to the edge of the church parking lot and replanted. The new practice facility looked so stalwart that even the blisters on the boys fingers didn't hurt.

While the team was busy digging up the standard, the neighborhood bitty (every neighborhood had one in the 1950s) watched in silence from behind her curtains and once the boys were gone, called the police to report a theft of city property and the names of each perpetrator. The next day at school each of the delinquents was hauled out of class and told to report to City Hall for punishment. At City Hall they faced a Star Chamber made up of the mayor, Wimpy, the pock faced policeman who struck fear into every Clairton teen, and a few councilmen. They were grilled, roundly humiliated, and threatened with banishment from society for the rest of their lives plus two weeks. Punishment included the return of the standard and community service. To the best of my knowledge none of the "shirts and skins" gang ever had another run-in with the law.

A little blogging music Maestro.... how about Nat King Cole's, "Ain't Misbehaving?"

Dr. Forgot

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