Friday, June 12, 2009

Part 14a - Growing Up - 1

(Me & Bing)


14a. GROWING UP – Part 1

As I was growing up, during warm weather, my most frequent dress code consisted of a pair of short pants and a baseball cap that was set slightly to the right side of my head, bill-forward. I would usually sunburn and peel a few times during the summer, but I didn't seem to know it was bad for me. I had freckles on my nose and back.

I usually made a game out of most any thing I did. I would precisely load my wagon with up to about fifty sticks of stove wood, then try to follow a certain "road" from the wood shed to the back steps and try not to turn it over while crossing the roots of the huge oak tree by the woodshed, or by the wheels digging in too deep in the sand as I passed between the umbrella chinaberry tree and the water tank.

I would walk certain routes, containing so many steps while feeding the hogs, or chickens, or gathering eggs from various places in the barn or chicken house. See how many eggs I could get into the outside and inside pockets of the old "Ike" jacket without breaking them or dropping and breaking any. Ugh! What a mess when I'd break one or more in a coat pocket!

I would ride the bicycle over certain routes from back to side yards, across the cattle gap, through the driveway sand bed, by the persimmon tree to the top to "the hill", then turn around and run a different route back.

Before I was big enough to ride the girls' model, 26-inch bicycle, I would push it for miles at a time, around the yard and up the top of the hill.

When I was about 10-years-old, Daddy bought me a basketball goal from a store in Selma. We put it up on a 4-foot by 6-foot backboard at the south end of the croquet court. That section of the back yard never had any grass on it, and it was kept perfectly level.

The level ground made for a great basketball court. I practiced shooting goals of all types, from all angles and distances. Again, I would play games between "Me" and "Myself", or "Jim" and "I". There were games like "Mule," where a person would shoot a certain style shot from a specific place. If he made the goal, the next player would have to make a similar shot from the same place. If the second player missed, he got a "M" or "U", etc. When a player had gotten a M, U, L, and E, he had one shot from the half-court line to erase his MULE.

Playing in the back yard allowed me to shoot very high shots. The Fruitdale High School’s gym was their auditorium, as was Millry's, and Chatom's, but it was so small, the free throw line was the back court centerline. Also, the ceiling was lower than others were. Once, while shooting a free shot, I hit the ceiling with the ball.

Chatom's gym had open steel trusses all the way across the top, forming sort of an arch shaped roof. Once, I shot from the left side of the court, near the centerline. My ball went over the bottom truss without touching the truss and was "all net!" That would have been a good 3-pointer now a day.

I went out for football in the eighth and ninth grades, but only weighed about 75 pounds. While in the tenth grade, in Augusta, GA, I played in the band and did so through high school and two years at college.

I played baseball in my Junior and Senior years in high school. I pitched and played first base. I guess I liked those positions because that's the ones Joe had played. He also played second base at times.

I have played golf on an "Off and on" basis. For a few years, I played most every Saturday morning with Uncle Will, Uncle George, and three other fellows. (I was the sixth man.) Our tee time was at 7:07 AM each Saturday, year round.

Later, I was involved in so many other things; I didn't have time for golf. Then, I got back into playing in Tennessee as Rust had a 9-hole, weekly league.

I played quite a bit while working in Lake Charles, LA. While I was there, I irritated my left shoulder while swimming. I had an impingement in my shoulder joint, which would not allow me to swing freely.

Later, I developed Tarsal tunnel syndrome in my right foot, which would not allow me to pivot on that foot when I swung the clubs. About the time I learned to hit the ball without pivoting, I developed a bad case of bursitis in my right shoulder.

After I retired, Edd Williams and I played fairly regularly at the Chatom and Citronelle courses, but since Edd moved to Georgia a couple of years ago I haven’t played but a couple of times. One of the problems now-a-day is that I have Neuropathy in my legs and feet that gives me problems when I walk too much.

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