||As I write, I have been listening to the
Iowa State women's basketball game in the semi-final round of the Big 12
tournament. (They won to advance to the finals on Saturday night ... the third year in a row
that the Cyclone women have made it to the championship game. Last year
Madness" is upon us. If you have basketball anecdotes or reflections, post them on the
forum page or send them to me to put
in the essay section. Or you can talk basketball in the chat room. And
there are plenty of basketball photos to view in our gallery.
Of course, not everyone (including me) lives and
dies basketball. So that's why we've also included "sports,
games, play, and the imagination" in the theme.
you would like to write about games you enjoyed during your
school days or chants you sang while jumping rope or playing
hopscotch. Or perhaps you have thoughts about the the difference
between kid's play when you were a child compared to how youth
use their free time today.
It seems that few young people these days
play pickup games, for instance softball or baseball, in an empty lot
simply for the fun of the game. Instead, their play is highly
I miss the softball games we hosted after
church for neighborhood friends in our big yard on the farm with a grass
waterway and trees in the outfield. The memories of those days remind me
of what Don Grant (class of 1936) has said about the weekly baseball games
that boys would play in his dad's pasture in Roosevelt Township. They used
steel disks for bases, and their diamond faced Lizard Creek where it was
one heck of a job to find the ball after a player hit a home run.
I am also reminded of the essays written by
Bob Ranney and Jerry
Rickard, both of the class of 1961, when they talk about the rivalry
in Rolfe between the "Jets" and "Sneakin' Injuns."
There are other essays on related subjects such as the one by Sally and
Stu Webb about creating the "Rendezvous"
in uptown Rolfe for recreation during 1940s.
Many of the other essays also address
similar themes, but I will let you explore
them on your own since I don't have a subject index nor am I like some
librarians who used to be able to point me to the perfect book to read.
(Perhaps our theme some month should be that of books and reading.)
||Perhaps you could write about the role of the
imagination in your life. Who fostered your imagination? What were your
creative endeavors? How has your imagination helped in the midst of
It's fine to get excited about basketball, but let's not
forget the need we have for playfulness and imagination. Often, when we
think our choices are limited, they aren't. And that's where the
imagination comes into play and can expand our perceptions. It's a circle
... playfulness leads to imagination and vice versa.
In the 1970's book The Ultimate Athlete,
George Leonard says so many people are mesmerized by sport because the
players are mirrors that reflect the fan's own inner dancer which is the
reminded of a circular concrete slab covering the underground
coal bin next to our farm house when I was a child. It's where
Mother taught me how to bounce a red, white, and blue ball. As I
grew older, I realized the natural extension of bouncing that
ball was basketball, and I got serious about the sport
(unfortunately, not successful at it).
I've been smitten in the past by March
madness, and I have had my share of basketball idols. However, nowadays, I
can't believe the amount of booing, baiting, and other acts of incivility
that go on at basketball games. And I can't believe the extent to which
our nation has become a spectator society. Although I follow Iowa State
women's basketball by reading about the team in the paper, listening to
some of the games on radio, and occasionally going to Hilton Coliseum,
I've taken the sport of basketball off the pedestal that I held it on for
I wish I could say I have recovered a sense
of play in my own life. The closest I come is a good walk or a game of
scrabble with friends using three sets of letters and boards. I have also
grown to appreciate yoga and free form movement (somewhat akin to tai chi)
in my parlor with the warmth of the sun coming through the south window on
a winter day. Often I find myself moving in profound ways as though I am
caring for and dancing with a golden ball the size of the ball that Mother
taught me to bounce. And I would like to say I
am cultivating a healthy imagination ... it certainly helps with my
photography and with expanding my sense of options in life.
You might want to check out Jerry
Farlow's essay about his basketball endeavors from the days he was a
young tyke at Rolfe to now when he is a math prof at the University of Maine.
And you can read an essay I
wrote a year ago during March following an Iowa State women's game in
the NCAA tournament.
The April theme probably will be that of
proms. I hope to put a video clip on from a 1950's prom that was originally
shot in film by Superintendent Mortensen. For May, maybe we'll focus on
track and field and have video clips of RHS
Winter still lingers in Iowa. I've heard
many people lament about how bad the weather has been and how eager they
are for spring to arrive. There are signs that winter is actually getting
ready to depart with the snow and ice receding, temperatures rising,
and sunshine adding a glow to faces and the landscape.
It's been said that
a person can never trust winter is truly over in Iowa until after the
girls state basketball tournament. Often, winter can be deceptive,
giving a false sense that spring has arrived, then wallops the state with
a blizzard during tournament week. Well, this is the week of the girls'
tournament, and all looks pretty good. It will be a long while, though,
before gardening starts and farmers go to their fields. Later when the
heat and humidity of August smother us, winter might not look so
bad after all ... well, not so bad for some of us. I think some people
just plain, out and out, detest winter and would prefer any other kind of
weather, including the August conditions which prompt a certain amount of
disdain on my part.
If you're wondering about the photos on
this page, I got carried away one night doing still life photography.
First, I did a Valentine's Day scene with teapot, candles, and a rose. (I
used it on this page last month.) Then I wanted to make a visual statement
... something to the effect that basketball is only a game (for Pete's
sake) and not too take it too seriously, especially during March. I knew
the image would never show up on a newspaper op-ed page, but I still
wanted to play around and create the photo. Both it and the teapot scene
are now part of a notecard collection that I market, and I am satisfied
with that outlet, but I also enjoy having this web site to display
Helen D. Gunderson
March 8, 2001