Friday, November 1, 2013

The End of an Era, Again!

This morning I sat in my car a few minutes and watched the heavy equipment operator as he was methodically disassembling a building that was built in 1964.  I don't know anything about that man or what his feelings were about that particular building. After all, he operates heavy equipment, he has a job and he was doing it.
Me? I was dying a little. He doesn't understand. He is driving his bulldozer/crane-whatever-monster machine right into a major part of my life. Removing large beams effortlessly and dropping them outside in a pile.
Much of who I am today was molded to some degree in that building. It wasn't my home or my church but it was a place where I spent many, many hours of my childhood and quite a few as a young adult.

It was the Elizabeth City Boys Club on Ehringhaus street.

I remember attending the Boys Club on main street in an old building that was also used as the Elizabeth City Police department. The boys club, I believe occupied two floors, the second and third floor of this old building. But the gym was possibly on the first floor but only assessable to us by going up stairs from the outside entrance and then back down some stairs on the inside.

Then some property was bought on Ehringhaus street. I remember in 1963 they had a special celebration on the empty property. We roasted hot dogs over open fires and played lots of games.

After the building was built, I spent many hours playing ping pong, pool, basketball, boardgames and dodge ball and so many other things. There was a library for reading and a shop for building things and a TV room and a game room and of course a gym.

I can still smell the fresh popcorn and hear the sneakers squeaking on the gym floor and the constant slapping of the ball on wooden paddles and the whizzing of the woodcutting saws. I can hear the shouts of competition and the storytelling and the laughter of boys of all ages.

One particular night we were having our annual Christmas party and it came to the time of giving away prizes so we were summoned to the bleachers in the gym. They drew the name for the flashlight and I did not win. Then the radio and I didn't win it either. My hopes of winning were over because I certainly was not going to win the bicycle. In fact, when they called my name I just sat sadly on the top bench waiting to see who won. Somebody must of smacked me or something to get my attention. "YOU WON!" What? "I won? I won!" I jumped off the bleachers and ran out to my new red bike. They told me to ride it around the gym in front of every body and I almost forgot how to ride a bike all of a sudden.

My whole football career happened right there on that property one day. Yep, my whole career in one day. During practice, someone stole my watch  and I got mad and quit football. Shame really, I probably could have been a great football player. After all, I weighed in at about 115 as a senior in high school.

Later in life, I began coaching basketball at the boy's club and had some pretty good teams. In fact one of my boys is now the High School basketball coach at a local high school. (He must have forgotten everything I taught him).

Well, another part of my past is by now flat on the ground and soon to be hauled away. Makes it a little tough to ride by there now.

But I still hear the sounds and smell the smells and am grateful for Mr. Don Helms and Mr. Rose and David Hodges and so many others who invested in me and hundreds of other young boys over the years.

1 comment:

Melody Cole said...

Wow, your comment “end of an era” resonates in my mind. Oh how I can relate, but in a different way. I have lost both my parents this year, “end of an era”. I look at my children and grandchildren and see the way they think and feel about things that are important to me, “end of an era”. I no longer have the energy or interest to do the things I once loved, “end of an era”. I have lost good friends and relatives this past year, “end of an era”. Most importantly I have grown through much pain and suffering from the immature Christian I use to be, “end of an era”. (Still growing).
I have always been in love with the 50’s era. I have an obsession with jukeboxes and my dream has been to have a Wurlitzer full size jukebox. I am getting close to fulfilling that dream. Wurlitzer was bought out by Gibson, who recently went out of business. Talk about defining the expression “end of an era”. We get one shot at this life; therefore we should live it to the fullest and spread God’s love while doing it. I believe that is God’s intention when He speaks about giving Christians an abundant life. While it is sad to let go of the past, the memories can never be taken from us. Hope you get to add to your museum.
Melody Cole