Let’s Cool Off

October 22, 2021

Growing up basketball was one of my passions….

It is the only sport you could play year around and….

You could play all by yourself.

While in grade school, we had free time at our school gym every Saturday and Sunday mornings. A whole slew of us would head over to the gym around 8:30 in the morning and start playing basketball until they threw us out….

Then we would go outside and play on the courts outside the school or up the street at the YMCA long into the afternoon.

We had some great pick up games.

The one problem we had was that we could never play basketball once the sun went down.

My pop solved that problem. Not only did he hang a backboard and rim on the front of the garage, but he also put in spot lights….

I was the hit of the neighborhood. Everyone would come over and we would play until 9 or 10pm; sometimes we would still be out there around 11 o’clock at night. My Mom would come out and say…

“You boys better break it up now, it’s getting late and people are trying to go to sleep.”

What a sweet lady.

I can remember having snow storms and not only was I going out and shoveling the neighbor’s sidewalks, but I also took time to shovel the driveway.

We were like postmen…Rain, sleet or snow, we were out there playing basketball. I remember we had a row of hedges along the right side of the court. I could dribble right with someone defending me and take a fade away jumper into the hedges.

At times, I was unstoppable. I would yell…”Chet Walker fade away”…. then you would hear….Swoosh..

In high school I went out for basketball. We had a great team, 3 of the 5 starters were guys I grew up with in the neighborhood playing basketball. They became starters as sophomores and went on to win the state championship in their senior year with a record of 26-0…

As a freshman, I played on both the freshman and JV teams. Sophomore year, I went out and initially got cut…

What a letdown….

I went into school the next day and the coach says…

“Hutch…come see me after school…”

“I shouldn’t have cut you yesterday. I am looking around and seeing that you and a couple of the other guys are the only ones capable of playing at the next level over the next couple of years. Our starters are all Juniors, so you won’t get much playing time, but I would like you to come back and be on the team.”

Hell yea….You didn’t have to ask me twice. I was playing with the best of the best.

I probably could have gone to another school, made the team and got more playing time…. but I was playing with the cream of the crop.

Many days I would walked out at the beginning of practice and my friend Jim would say…

“Yo Hutch… come over here”… He would have me go one on one with him before practice. He was one of the best players in the league and he was taking the time to work with me; challenging me to grow and become more confident with my performance…..I couldn’t be happier.

During the summer, we all played in the summer league at St Rose in Haddon Heights. At St Rose you had all the top players in the area gathering together to keep their skills honed. We would get done playing around 9pm and we all would be exhausted and sweaty. I don’t know who came up with the idea, but someone said…

“Let’s cool off”…

I know somebody who has a pool. What they neglected to tell me was that we were not being invited to go swimming… we were going pool hopping.

We would sneak up on a house who had a pool in their backyard. We made sure it sat a small distance away from the house and we initially… tried to be quiet.

But if you have 4,5 or 6 people jumping around in a pool…things can get a little loud and crazy pretty fast…

We always started out slow and quiet and after about 5 minutes we were doing cannonballs…

I remember we went to this one pool off the golf course in the area. We walked down the 17th fairway and into the backyard and slid into the pool. We were there for about 10-15 minutes and we we kept saying to each other was…..

“Shhhh …. keep it down…”

Unfortunately… As time went on we continued getting louder ….

We were having a great time… We were becoming oblivious to the fact there might be someone at the house….

After schussing and saying let’s keep it down about 50 times…someone suggested we should check to see if there was anybody at the house…

What we can do is draw straws and the short straw will go up and knock on the door.

Guess who got the short straw…Yours truly…

Anyway, we all got out of the pool…we walked around to the front of the house, and I slowly made my way up to the front porch. I knocked on the front door and the first thing I heard was footsteps…

Someone was coming toward the front door. I immediately jumped off the porch and hid behind a row of bushes in the garden off to my right…

I hear the front door open and… Meanwhile all my friends take off running down the street…

The owner of the house comes jumping out the front door with a shotgun in their hand….

”Who’s out here.”….

My life flashes before my eyes, I am going to die out here…

Is that a real shotgun…or is that a riffle…

“Who’s out here….”

I was frozen behind the bushes…Trying to remain silent…praying for my life…

About a minute or so passes (it felt like a lifetime) and he suddenly turns around and goes back in the house.

I quickly jumped up and took off running with a million things going thru my mind.

Oh my God… I almost got shot…

I caught up to my friends down the street… they are all laughing…can you believe that… Wow….that was close…

Yea, I believe it…I felt like I was dying behind those bushes….

I can’t believe he came out with a shotgun or was that a riffle…

Once I saw that in his hands I just kept my head low and tried not to make a sound

After the initial shock wore off; we were all able to keep laughing about it…

Hey….“Do you know of any other pools that may be a little farther away from the house or even better…

Maybe the owner is out of town” ….

The night is still young…

Every Day is a Gift…

Thank you for your continued referrals…

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