Well, the era was over long ago, but seeing the basketball hoop lying on its side like this made me realize that soon this connection to a time period will be gone.
The October storm roughed up an already damaged hoop that still I kept around. The winds also sent huge limbs crashing into our garage, with one falling through the roof and another taking a gash out of the front. The carpenter has been busy fixing other roofs, and when he finally started work today, he put the basketball hoop on its side in preparation for taking it away.
It's actually our second hoop. Jim dug a hole and cemented the first one into the ground when the kids were little. They spent a lot of time out there shooting and playing games with their friends. Sometimes I went out and just shot around. I also played with them, first the game called Horse and then actual dribbling and shooting for points.
I had (and I suppose still have) pretty good aim and a certain amount of totally underdeveloped skill. Back in high school before Title IX, Miss Benson coached us in the games we played against other high schools, with two forwards on one side, guards on the other, and only two rovers allowed to run back and forth. I always wanted to be a rover. I don't remember getting much instruction.
At Vassar, I was briefly on the basketball team, where most of the other players had actually been taught how to play. Mostly, I warmed the bench.
So in the driveway, the kids had to listen to me say over and over in my best Marlon Brando voice, "I could have been a contender!" When they guarded me, I drove them crazy by pulling two hands back and getting the ball in by popping it over their heads. As soon as Ben got taller than I was, I was finished.
The beginning of the end for Hoop #1 came when Jim weakened it by backing into it.
The kids still managed to play with it on a slight slant, but then I finished it off by backing into it myself.
I was the only one who wanted another hoop.
"A house like this needs a basketball hoop," I said.
So Jim and Joe went out and bought a weighted one that they did not weight heavily enough, and in the first storm in fell down.
They fixed the problem, but when another wind blew, it crashed onto Joe's car and broke the windshield.
This is one of Joe's favorite "I told you so stories."
But still, I stalled in getting rid of it, just like I did with the backyard swing set that was actually beginning to rot when I had it cut down and carted away last year.
I kept it partly out of sentimentality and also partly because it had become so much a part of the backyard landscape that I kind of forgot about it...until the day that the guy who was going to plant grass seed back there said he would only do it if I got rid of that thing.
When Katie came home from college after the deed was done, she looked out the kitchen window and gasped, "My childhood is gone!"
I guess that's why I held on to these things: Because they were such a big connection to their childhood.
Of course their childhood isn't "gone." There are a million little reminders around the house, plus there are, of course, the memories.
This blog is about falling down and getting up, coping and coming back after four bone marrow transplants for Acute Myeloid Leukemia, or AML, starting in 2003 when I was diagnosed after feeling winded while running a 10-K road race. I have three children, Ben, Joe and Katie, and one Labrador retriever, Maddie, short for Madison, as in Madison (Ave.), in honor of my hometown, New York, New York.