June 20, 2014 § 4 Comments
She leaned out the window of her pickup truck. “Do you want our basketball goal for the library? We can’t take it with us.”
“Sure,” I said, not caring as much about a basketball goal as I did about the kids about to leave the neighborhood, two of my favorites.
But the pickup would be trailering a mound of possessions held in place with a spiderweb of bungie cords. Definitely no room for a basketball goal.
When it was dropped at the curb the goal heeled over at a strange angle. Seemed as if it was regulation height for pygmies. It stuck out into the street like the neck of a wounded giraffe.
It’s base was supposed to be filled with water but it leaked.
A kid climbing that pole—and we had plenty of kids who would climb that pole—would bring it down.
We shoveled some of the driveway gravel in and it got more resolute in its desire to stay upright.
We raked over the bald spot on the driveway.
Hunter and Kary were turned loose on it with tools and ingenuity. Brute strength shoved the hoop further up the pole.
Hunter brought over a ball.
A couple more were found.
Some were fuzzy from heavy street use. Some went flat in the course of a game.
Hunter, who had a needle and a pump and knew how to play became the designated king of the street.
It is his job during library hours to keep kids from being hit by cars, to settle disputes, and be sure those fuzzy balls are fairly shared so even the little kids get to take a shot.
When it is not library Sunday, Hunter is out there alone, shooting hoops.
If I’m outside he says, “This one’s for you Miss Adrian.” And most of the time he nails it.
Sometimes Johnny comes around the corner. Younger than he looks. Big smile. He brings his own ball, and the two of them shoot and laugh.
Sitting on my stoop I hear their basketballs twanging on the hot asphalt, the banter of young guys talking easy.
One evening when they’d been shooting, there was a knock at the door. A powerful shot had knocked the basket clean off the backboard, snapped the screws.
How could we run a library without a basketball hoop?
My husband and I went to Sports Authority and bought the last replacement hoop and net in the store.
The screws almost lined up—well half of them did, and the game went on.
Marauding bands sweep in, sometimes in locust plague numbers, bringing with them one sorry looking ball. They shoot and trash talk. They get hot and ask me for ice water. I fill mugs and ask them to watch their mouths, tell them that hoop is only there by the grace of the neighbors so quit throwing around the F word, okay?
Everyone points to some other guy. “Sorry, Miss Adrian, but he didn’t have any home training.” They shoot a while more, then leave the empty cups on my porch and move on.
And the street reverts to Hunter, one guy shooting hoops as the daylight fades.
Note, these photos taken on library Sundays are displayed with many more shots of the Front Porch Library kids at the library’s website.