Vintage Basketball Gyms of Kansas
If you are someone who remembers with great nostalgia the old crackerbox basketball gyms of Kansas--you know, those with tiny courts, balconies, the wall for out-of-bounds--if you remember games that were real wars between small rival towns and fistfights between fans because there were only 3 rows of seats--if you are the type of person who gets misty-eyed every time you see “HOOSIERS”, then this is for you.
Fifty-one stories and 150 pictures of gyms in small towns, big towns, colleges, a prison, a flour mill warehouse, anywhere where basketball was once played, with old coaches or players telling their stories.
Basketball gyms that were built in Kansas before about 1950 seem to have a vastly different feel to them than those built today. It’s not just the architecture. They were not just small; they were intimate. Even bigger old gyms provided a closeness and a “snakepit” feeling that while seating thousands, gave the fans a connection that modern, square, boxy, comfortable gyms do not have.
What would amaze many basketball fans today is that some of those old gyms still actually exist and they may not be aware that many small Kansas High Schools still use these vintage gyms.
The loss of old gyms is an historic preservation issue as much as yearning for nostalgia. Maybe the loss of this intimacy says something about us as a changing society. But there is no doubt about one fact: that in Kansas, like it or not, basketball is the most popular spectator sport in the state. If you went to high school once upon a time in Kansas, and whether you played the game, sat the bench, cheered for your heroes, were in the pep club, band, or were just a mouse in the corner, you cannot help but remember the “barn-burner” games every Tuesday and Friday night that set your heart to pounding like nothing else. The ghosts of those games decades ago will echo in your ears whenever you walk the floor in these palaces, these crackerboxes, these vintage basketball gyms of Kansas.
What people are saying about Hallowed Hardwood....
“My elderly farmer father doesn’t read anything---not even a newspaper. He sat down and read Hallowed Hardwood straight through in one sitting.” --daughter in western Kansas
“All I can say is, thanks for the memories. I’m 70, and it was all I could do to wipe away the tears as I read the book.” ---former player, eastern Kansas.
“I was stunned. This book was almost autobiographical for me. I played against almost everyone in the book. Heck, I even showered with some of them, in the cramped shower rooms under the stage in the gyms.” ---retired teacher, Moundridge.
“Hallowed Hardwood is an unbelievable gift book. If you have a former basketball player, coach, or fan in your family, your Christmas or birthday shopping is over.” ---fan, southeast Kansas.