Back to normalcy at Cobb’s Hill basketball

Back to normalcy at Cobb’s Hill basketball

[The Players at the Pulse.Photo: David Kramer]
August 23, 2015

A couple of week ago, I wrote on the spirited street ball game played weekends at Cobb’s Hill now for about 35 years, spotlighting its more colorful characters and nicknames:  “Abbacca” of the big hand, “Spook” (whose real name no one apparently knows), Pastor “Choir Boy” Cuevos, self-proclaimed “Old School” Don from back in the day of Larry “Lover’s” Lane, and the Twin Towers Brothers K.

Rochester’s own street ball Rucker League

Sunday, my mission was different. Reflecting upon the tragic events of last week and the witnessed vigil, I wondered what the street ballers had to say.

A ray of light on 595 Frost Avenue

The Game is about much more than basketball. When I talk with the players I hear: camaraderie, lifelong friendships, family, escape from the day’s worries, haven, and even oasis (the Pastor). One descriptor from”JB” James Brown (pictured) stuck: “a place of normalcly.” Not a place of senseless shootings and violence.

Normalcy 3

Vernon, myself, and JB. Vernon was recruited by Keuka College where, coincidentally, I teach.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the shootings on Genesee Street – not yet fully assimilated – filter lightly in and out of conversations. Feelings still raw; the vigil still going. Vernon Jones (pictured), SUNY Brockport student, thinks the events were so severe and the facts so unknown that people are leery to say the wrong thing at the wrong time. By next week’s game, however, the conversations about what it means and what to do will be getting real.

To learn more about how the game functions in the city community, I spoke with perhaps the dean of The Game, Terrence Mitchell, of East High basketball fame and beyond, who says he has played at Cobb’s Hill for at least 35 years.

To Terrence, it’s about being with friends and family, relaxing and competing after a hard day’s labor. At the same time, while the courts are not a political forum or a debating society, to Terrence they are are also a place of open and free discussion on all topics. When tensions in the street or grievances in the neighborhoods need to be discussed, they are. When community good news needs to be spread, it is. As Terence has seen, at election time the pols come a lookin’ for votes as if they were loose balls. Mayor Bill Johnson, who lives near by, was a regular — but not just in November, Terrence reassures.

As Terrence eloquently says, the “game is the messenger.” If you have a message worth giving, bring it to the courts and message might get heard all over Rochester. The Game just might be The Pulse. Stay tuned.

Normalcy 2

They do let me play. On the “B” court.

also An art museum as a place of meaning in a time of senselessness

for more on one player, Dr. Jason Willis From the Rucker League to Edison Tech. With a Ph.D. in between.

also  When NBA history was made at Edgerton Park  and  Pick up softball games still exist

About The Author

dkramer3@naz.edu

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY and Lake Affect Magazine.  My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.

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