Me in the Yard

Saturday morning,  May 3

Most people sleep in on Saturday. In my case, it’s called over-sleeping. Or late…Or lazy.

“GET YOUR ASS UP!” Is what I heard often from Mom.

On this day, I get up extra early;  Shower, get dressed and I am out the door.  My first thought is “food.” I head to my favorite spot, The Windsor Cafe.

These guys are great. Nick, Gus and George.

Love our sports chat.

A plate of scrambled eggs, ham and two pieces of whole wheat toast.

As I pay my bill I notice their i-pad on the counter – it’s cool.

Terrace Bagels is packed.

I head to Connecticut Muffin. There’s a short line. A couple of tables open in the upper deck. I notice a guy with his laptop open. I’m reminded of how dumb I was to leave my MacBook back home. (A few hours later I would return and see the same guy sitting there…) Hey sports fans, there’s a time limit on how long you can sit in a coffee shop, especially if you don’t have a drink in front of you!

The moment of truth. I make my way across the avenue and head to the boys schoolyard. It’s been a long time, too long to tell you the truth. The sun is shining, the weather is gorgeous.

As I approach the entrance, where the chain linked fence has been replaced by black, steel bars I hear a basketball bouncing.

Who beat me to the yard?

I was always one of the first to arrive whether it was Saturday morning or right after school (Wish I had that mentality for school).

I see four people on the middle court. Back in the day the yard would be packed.

Two young boys and two adults. I walk over and introduce myself.

They are very friendly.

We chat while their oldest boy, who must be 13 or 14 is shooting jumpers from the outside. He’s a left-hander. Reminds me of John Corrar, Frankie Cullen and Jerry Coles; three southpaws from the neighborhood.

First thing I notice is that the backboards are fiberglass; we had half-moon boards, made of steel. I never banked a shot unless it was “humble.”

I keep thinking to myself that this family is awesome. Makes me want to move back to the neighborhood and hang out with these people.

In case you are wondering, I did get up a few shots. My jump shot will never leave me.

The one thing I show the young man is the game we used to play called, “Around-The -World.” It’s a big reason why I think we had so many good outside shooters come through the yard.

The coach in me wanted to take them through some dribbling drills up and down the court but the sign up on the church wall was no longer there. I knew the schoolyard hours by heart; just from dribbling up and down the court, reciting the words on the sign. It was a great drill helping us keep our heads up while we dribbled.

After about thirty minutes, its time to say good-bye but not until a boy, probably about fifteen years old walks into the yard with a basketball. He takes a few shots. We talk a little about the NBA and on the way out I notice he is following me down Howard Place.

“Can I have your e-mail address?” he asks me while we stand in front of the black picket fence.

I give it to him.

Wondering why he would want my e-mail address?

Pen-pal maybe?

Do kids even do that anymore?

By the way, it’s been a few weeks and have yet to get an e-mail from him. Maybe he lost it?

Kid says he is going on a job interview.

I look at him and ask, “with your basketball?”

He smiles, walks away and disappears down the train station on Windsor Place.

Making my way back up to the avenue I hang out on the corner of Windsor and ninth watching the people go by. I don’t recognize anyone.

Boy has the neighborhood changed.