Today, they call it the old rock gym; they even bill it on the schedule as the old rock gym and yet back in the day, as our grandchildren would say, the striking old building was simply the gym, and it was there that we played high school basketball against the Hamilton Bulldogs. They didn’t say things like Lady Bulldogs back then, did they?
For whatever reason, it is that old gym still sitting right there in Hamilton, Texas that has the power to roll back the years for me more than any other (outside the city of Austin), and it was no different when I recently made the short drive from Comanche to Hamilton to watch the freshmen boys compete in the Hamilton tourney. My parking space happened to be right in front of the door and sure enough, those old ghosts were standing there, waiting to escort me inside.
I must admit that it takes a certain amount of courage to confront ones past and so for just a little while, I refused to enter…choosing instead to walk, and look, and remember those long ago days when the Comanche Maidens were a force to be reckoned with…when, to be quite honest, there weren’t many teams in the state of Texas who could handle an offense created by the likes of players such as Judy Gleaton, Susan Hicks, Rhonda Lubke, Linda and Sissy Andrews, the Westmoreland girls, Regina Reeves, and so many, many others. Of course there were others; you don’t control the district title for 20 years without others, do you?
And then it was time; I could stall no longer. There was nothing to do but accept the extended hands of my ghostly memories and enter the gym where absolutely nothing has changed…minus the smell of popcorn that I seem to associate with the gyms of “the old days.”
And there right inside the doorway pictured above, I stopped to listen and sure enough, Leta was already there; I knew she was because I could hear the click, click, click, of her heels as she made her way to the bench, dressed to perfection, of course.
The gym roared in a way that only those old gyms could roar, the gray bleachers hard to manipulate, with no railing and steps way too high to be comfortable…just flat dangerous, really, representing everything that once was basketball…once upon a time. The only thing missing were the metal folding chairs that once served as “the bench” in Hamilton a long time ago.
Believe it or not, it was a metal folding chair that a girls varsity basketball coach from Hamilton, Texas once picked up in anger, throwing it across the floor…aiming right at me. He would have been fired (and probably worse) immediately today. Back then, I don’t remember anyone even being terribly upset about the incident!
And then, it was play ball for the Indians and time for me to put the past away once again, pulling it out only once more that day as I paused for just a moment before exiting the old gym one more time…