Tonight is a very significant date in history, November 1st. Yes, it is in my history and the history of thousands of guys who grew up attending small high schools in the state of Indiana in the 1950s’.
If you grew up then and attended one of the many small high schools in the state, you may remember this date. At that time, there were nearly eight hundred high schools in the state, and many of those schools were small, rural schools that did not have a football program. November 1st was the date the Indiana High School Athletic Association, IHSAA, would allow the basketball season to begin. I can still remember it like it was yesterday.
There is a line from an old Statler Brothers song that goes, “If I could just be a part of your memory the rest of your life.” Many happenings from that time, certainly including basketball, would be a part of those memories for me. November 1st, 1960, 7:45 p.m. on a Friday was the normal tip-off time for most varsity games. On this November 1st, it was the Blackhawk Chieftains versus the Pimento Peppers. Now, stop laughing. The Chieftains were dressed in their traveling red and black uniforms, and they were led by veterans Bobby Morse and Oscar Huntwork. (Oscar’s dad was my barber. He had a shop in the back room of his small grocery store.) The Peppers dressed in their home white with blue and orange trim. I bet 99 per-cent of the guys who played Indiana high school basketball can remember their basketball uniform number. Mine: 40 in the home uniform and 20 in the traveling uniform.
By the way, for those of us who lived during that time, basketball wasn’t our only memories from those Friday nights. But a very significant one.
Last year, on one of my basketball junkets back to Indiana, I attended an Indiana State University basketball game and ran into Oscar Huntwork. Neither he nor I looked nearly as intimidating as we once did, or thought we did, on that particular November night back in 1960.