Saturday, August 9, 2014

Who Remembers the Summer Rec Program?

     The Kornerman drove by the old Lowell school site recently and, by the way, it looks very nice.........grassy and green. The property has been sold by the school district but, as of now, it's completely clear. No indication of any traffic. Probably a future site for some homes.
     I never attended Lowell but the site, nevertheless, brought back some Korner memories of the Boone Summer Recreation program. At each elementary school site, the doors, at least in the gym, were open and various items of play were distributed on the playgrounds so youngsters could gather on summer afternoons for recreational purposes. As I recall, there was even some softball, etc. competition between the various schools.
     Howard Stutzman, the Boone High School Athletic Director, was the director of the program and he hired me and various other BHS students, a boy and a girl at each, to "work" the various sites. We would gather up and distribute the "play things," organize games etc.. I vividly recall a ball diamond in the northeast corner of the block and my attempts to hit, with great power, a softball on to the roof of the Lowell building. It was just part of my job.......
     More baseball talk - Curtis Dale Cox Jr. wrote, "I remember growing up across from Memorial Park and watching games there in the early 50's. I wasn't a big baseball fan but the diamond was on the west side of the park and all I had to do to watch was cross the street. I remember watching the Legion teams on Sunday. Toward the end of the 50's came Babe Ruth and there were some real rivalries between teams AND SPECTATORS (but the editor says, "we won't get into that".) I remember going to McHose Park to watch the Boone Merchants play the Boxholm Swedes. My late brother, Pinky Clifton, played for the Merchants, coached by Ev Long. Those, to me, were the good old days. Keep up the great job you do. I'm like everyone else, I totally enjoy your Korner every Wednesday and Saturday."
     Dick Longworth, BHS-53, had a bit of a different take. He wrote, "why didn't we have more baseball in those early years? You recall playing Legion ball in 1948 but most of your correspondents say there wasn't much organized baseball in Boone until the mid-50's. I don't remember playing  anything but softball. Basically, baseball doesn't seem to have been a Boone thing. As you wrote, BHS had a team but it was dropped in the mid 40's. We played other high school sports, why not baseball?"
     He continued, "It's odd. Baseball is as big in Iowa as anywhere, it's produced tons of major leaguers, all the way from Cap Anson to Dazzy Vance and Bob Feller. Ronald Reagan got his start broadcasting the Cubs over WHO radio and Field of Dreams is an Iowa story. None of this seems to have made much of an impact on Boone. Some quick googling shows that Boone has produced two major leaguers. The first was Buster Brown, who played for the Cardinals and Boston Braves from 1905-13. The other is Jerry McNertney, a catcher from 1964-73 with the White Sox and Cards and later, a coach for the Yankees. According to Wikipedia, Jerry was born in Boone but went to high school in Gilbert."
     The Kornerman says, "we really haven't mentioned that in those days when there was no high school, Little League, Babe Ruth in Boone, there was lots of "town team" ball. I recall at least two Boone teams, the VFW and, I believe, the Odd Fellows had teams that had a spirited rivalry with each other and also with outside competition. I remember games played at the site at 10th and Tama, prior to the arrival of Little League there. In the eyes of a "youngster" which I was at the time, that was a "huge" park with excellent lighting and home plate was closer to the viaduct than to the grain elevators. In other words, home plate, for a park much bigger than Jimmy Archer Field, was located at the south east end of the area.
     Two more things I recall about those days. I remember when an "older" Bob Reedholm, now deceased, who was a heck of a good pitcher, actually broke his arm pitching. Spectators said you could hear it crack. The second major memory I have is that fabled former New York Yankee star catcher Mickey Owen came to town one time as an "added attraction." At the time, I was a very young reporter but I remember interviewing him. At one time, I had a picture of the two of us. It may still be here in the basement somewhere.
     P.S. Anybody else remember Gib Thompson? Another pretty good pitcher in those days.
     Boone Area Deaths: Viola Johnson, 100, Boone. Attended St. Paul's parochial school until eighth grade. Was a farm wife. Boone area survivors include sons, Richard and Thomas Johnson, a daughter-in-law, Mary Johnson and grandchildren and great grandchildren of Boone..........George Stewart. Jr., 89, Dover, DE and formerly of Boone. Thirty-year Navy vet. Services and burial in Boone...........Violet Scofield, 90, Boone. Lived in Nebraska before moving to Boone. Was a self-employed seamstress. Boone area survivors include a daughter Sandi Myers and a sister, Harriett Thede of Boone and a sister, Bette McCoy of Beaver............Virginia Fontanini, 93, Boone. Was a saleswoman at Holiday House Gift Shop. Boone area survivor is son, Rick of Boone. Sons Dennis Ellenwood and Joe Fontanini and daughter-in-law, Carol Fontanini reside out of state.
     Worldwide Korner headquarters are located at 710 Aldrich, Boone, Iowa 50036-4703. Phone number is 515-432-1530. To email your stories/memories/comments....

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