When running, Dad’s genes rise to the top. Same thing happens when mowing the lawn. Or is that learned?
Dad was an athlete, I am not. While not a runner during his life time, my hope is he knows now somehow. Basketball was really his sport, but he must have run to create endurance on the court. One of my first memories is of him hurting his knee during a pick-up basketball game after work.
We also shared a disease, colon cancer. Dad did not beat it, but I did. Women do things differently. Long story.
Dad was part of a very special basketball team in central Illinois, Decatur, in 1944-45. He got a waiver from the Army to finish high school since he turned 18 while still a senior. Do you remember the old movie, “Hoosiers”? I don’t think that movie was based upon Dad’s “Cinderella” experience, but it could have been. Basketball is as important in Illinois as it is in Indiana in terms of high school sports. Illinois is like two different places: there is Chicago and the suburbs, and then there is “downstate”.
So glad that I experienced a bit of Dad’s childhood neighborhood. He lived down from Fan’s Field, a pine green colored structure where local baseball games were played. How fine to be able, if not attending, to hear bats crack and fans cheer on a summer night! Remember from cartoons the hole in the wall, and kids looking at a game through that hole? You have the image.
There was a small grocery within a couple of blocks of his house. It served the homes around it. As late as when I was a child, each family had a little pad of invoices at the checkout desk. Our name was on the binding. What we bought was marked down, and the tab was paid once a month. It was said that that little store carried many through the Great Depression.
When a child, we would go for a Sunday often, only a two hour drive from St. Louis. Decatur stunk back then. Don’t think it does now. The “Soybean Capital of the World”, it was Staley’s Syrup making the big stink. To me, Decatur was on another planet, far removed from my baby boomer St. Louis suburbs.
So what did Dad do in high school? His small town Decatur basketball team won the state championship, the whole state, even against those big and bad Chicago teams. This was before the A or AA designation. A Decatur radio station played that final game every year for a long time.
I have his trophy. His was for being the “free throw champion”.
Dad never made it close to being in his fifth decade. Now in my sixth, I am finally winning medals for being an athlete of a sort. Last year a surprise package came from the Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston, SC. It was heavy. Had no idea, but the top five percent of each age class wins medals! In my class, there were about five hundred women. Placed 19th. Surprisingly, my placement was the same this year, but my time was a lot faster.
For you Dad, who knew?