Wednesday, April 19, 2017

New England 2017: Lots of Naismiths, and so a visit to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts seems fitting and proper.

As is my usual custom, I'll be posting photos, commentary and links about our trip; the daily accounts will be back-dated to coincide with their occurrence. It won't be the most thrilling reading, but in addition to whatever else NAC may or may not have become over the years, it's still a personal blog, and you're fully entitled to views of our holiday.

We've stayed at a variety of Airbnb properties since our first foray into the sharing economy back in 2010. Our choice of lodging in Northampton in 2017 was located just outside of town in a bucolic rural setting. It was exemplary. We had a private bedroom and bath, and shared the remainder of the house with delightful hosts who produced bagels and cereal each morning and dined alongside us.

On Wednesday morning, we mentioned to Rachael and David that we planned on a visit to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in nearby Springfield. Rachael was delighted, and asked if we knew who Dr. James Naismith was.

"He was inventor of basketball," I said. "You can't fool me -- I'm a Hoosier."

Rachael proceeded to execute a 360-degree slam dunk, not unlike Dr. J.

"James Naismith was my great-grandfather," she said, pointing to the framed photo of a house hanging behind her on the wall. I'd been looking at it for three days without thinking to ask what it meant.

The key to the photo is the rock resting atop the boulder in the bottom left corner. It references the medieval children's game called "duck on a rock."

In “Duck on a Rock”, a large stone (“duck”) would be placed on top of an even larger rock or tree stump or the like. One unlucky player was then given the job of guarding the rock. All the other players would then have one rock to throw at the “duck” each, in order to knock it off the tree stump or rock it had been placed on. If the “duck” was knocked off before the throwers had all thrown their rocks, the defender will cease defending and pick up the “duck” and go on the offensive. Unfortunately, he does not get to chuck the duck back at the people who were just chucking rocks in his general direction. Rather, after the duck is knocked off, all the players throwing stones must go and retrieve one of the thrown stones and then make it safely back to the throwing line. After the defender picks up the fallen “duck” and places it back on the rock or tree stump, he/she is then allowed to run around and tag any of the players who have not yet made it back to the throwing line. If a player is tagged, they become the new guard.

Given a scant two weeks to devise an indoor game capable of being played in winter, Naismith drew upon this and other experiences, producing what we worship today as basketball.

In short order, we received an overview of family history from Rachael, and shortly thereafter David walked into the dining room with a pair of complementary tickets to the HoF, which he'd received, stashed, and forgotten.

And so off we went to Springfield.

The first inductees (above) and Ed Diddle's red towel (below).

Bob Lanier wore size 22 basketball shoes. Mine are 16. Does size matter?

We arrived early, and the court was deserted. Within 30 minutes, it was filled with children shooting baskets.

The late Craig Sager's coat has bits of real gold woven into the fabric.

The remainder of the day was relaxed. With Ruby at daycare, we met Jen for lunch in Northampton at a natural foods restaurant called Paul and Elizabeth's. which is located at the epicenter of downtown, within a fascinating feat of adaptive reuse: Thornes Marketplace.

150 Main Street has been the cornerstone of downtown Northampton and at the center of shoppers’ row for more than a century. Pressed tin ceilings, hardwood floors and staircases, and a host of period details give this contemporary shopping center an old world charm that belies its 55,000 square foot size.

Built in 1873, the McCallum’s Dry Goods store expanded twice through the Calvin Coolidge years to become the McCallum’s department store.

In 1975, Floyd Andrus, a local developer, purchased the historic department store out of bankruptcy and began a comprehensive renovation highlighting the original wood detailing.

In 1977, Brinkley and Gordon Thorne, together with their wives Mazie Cox and Annie Woodhull, purchased the building from Mr. Andrus, and renamed it Thornes Marketplace. In 1989, a parking facility was constructed behind the building connecting directly to Thornes by a skywalk.

In 2006, Thornes was purchased by a group of local real estate investors. The new ownership group has been working diligently on the execution of substantial building improvements to enhance the overall shopping experience at Thornes.

Today Thornes, under its familiar green awning, teems with traffic exploring the sights, sounds and smells of a contemporary bazaar. Locals and visitors alike are attracted to the vibrant colors and unique merchandise while helpful independent store owners enjoy being able to provide you with the highest quality service. 

On the other side of the parking garage? Why, Northampton Brewery, of course.

Meanwhile, in middle of this photo of Northampton's main drag, you can barely make out the Summit House atop Mt. Holyoke, to which we'd hiked on Monday.

Returning to South Hadley, Ruby came home and I foraged for leftover pizza from the night before.

Pro tip: Put anchovies on your pizza, and others dare not swipe it.

As a personal postscript, most readers already know that I've never had children, and tend to shy away from touchy-feely in this and other instances of interaction to which I'm unaccustomed.

This probably won't be changing.

However, for once in my life I can state that spending time with a one year old was providential for me. There have been too many deaths the past 16 months. Perhaps it was the right time for me to absorb a lesson about "life goes on," and who better to teach it than Ruby?

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