Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Will the memories be the same?

It’s kind of hard to believe but the 2009-10 winter sports season ends in a little ore than 12 days and then comes the endless post-season as teams and athletes prepare to make runs at state championships.
Columbia fans might want to mark next Wednesday on their calendars. Sure, its nothing more than the final regular season game of the season with Pequea Valley, but its also the last game for the Elmer Kreiser Gym as we have known it for more than 50 years.
That’s because shortly after the end of the season, the gym will begin receiving a new look as the final part of the renovations at the high school complex.
Should it be a night to remember the past? It might be for the thousands of fans who have attended games and school events over the years.
In case you haven’t heard, the wall on the south end of the gym will be removed, kicked out to the sidewalk. There will be renovations to the locker areas, along with locker areas and team rooms added. The officials will finally have their own place to go and the entrance will be changed to the west end of the school.
And, there will be bleachers added to the south end of the court.
So as the Kreiser Gym moves into the 21st century, does that mean the Crimson Tide will loose its home court advantage?
That question won’t be answered until next year but I still marvel that even after all these years, there are still teams that enter our little band box of a gym and marvel at its history, whether it be the multitude of trophies in the gym lobby or the banners and retired uniforms inside the four walls.
That and the closeness of the crowd make our gym unique and probably worth a few points or wins.
But as I look back over the many years as a student, fan and reporter covering events inside the gym, there are a lot of memories, many of them good.
As you walk into the gym, you always know where people sit. If they are not in their usual seats, you have to wonder if something is wrong. If most fans are not greeting the officials as they come in with a smile and “hey if you heed help,” its very unusual.
There have been the May Day celebrations, an unique spring activity, just for Columbia,
and the anxious moments of prospective graduates before commencement. Also the many dances held in the gym back in the day.
And the endless basketball games and wrestling matches.
I’ve heard all the stories from folks a lot older than me of having to stand in line for hours to get into the gym for a big game. Those type stories never get old.
When I was a student, there was nothing better than hearing the German Band, now called the Pep Band blaring their tunes from the press box as the Tide took the floor in those white satin warm-ups.
Sure, there were some down times since I was a student in the 1970s, but the place on the hill was always special.
The 1980s brought a rebirth of Columbia basketball, both on the boys and girls side. Oh those big games and great players. The good teams that use to visit and the legendary coaches.
The packed houses, night in and night out. Now about the only time the “old barn” is packed is when a certain tea wearing purple makes their annual visit. So, I big gym with more seating might not be the best thing that happened.
I got to see, as many others did, some record setting performances by teams and individuals.
There are a couple of events that really have stood out over the years for me.
First and foremost, was the big rally in the gym after the Tide won the state championship in 1987. I never saw the place that full before and probably won’t ever again. The memories of that entire post-season run won’t soon go away.
Second was probably the night Columbia played Warwick in boys’ basketball back when Jack Hurd was a Warrior and Mike Wisler wore the crimson and gold. It was a much anticipated match-up of premier players and teams. Warwick entered the game with a 59-game winning streak. The streak ended that night.
Third had nothing to do with a game being played on the court, but the night the gym received its name. There was a night honoring the late Elmer Kreiser, the longtime principal and coach at the school. So many of the greats came back that night to honor the Coach.
I can remember doing an interview with Mr. Kreiser at his home the week before the ceremony and I’ve never been that nervous interviewing someone in my life, because he was such a special person.
There were a couple of other retirements since that time, but none had the impact of that night.
There were the classic girls’ games when Warwick and Craig Wagaman and Ephrata and Jan Witmer visited. I remember one night, the lights went out in the gym and the game was moved to Park School.
And lastly was the night in the early 1990s when Columbia and Solanco had very good teams and many thought Solanco had some illegal players on their roster. A packed house, which included officials from the PIAA saw a dandy of a game that night. Oh by the way, that year, Columbia went to the eastern finals and I think Solanco was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.
There are probably many nights and games I could write about. These are just some and I’m sure other people have more.
Did some changes need to be redone inside the gym? Yes. Will it lose its charm as one of the “most hated places” in the L-L League to play a game in? I hope not, but I know it will take a little bit of adjusting too next season as the gym now gets a long overdue make over.
So in a lot of ways, I think Wednesday, Feb. 10 will be an historic night as will the first game in the “new” Elmer Kreiser Gym.

PT is over and moving forward

Well my therapy ended last week, with the not-so confident ability of walking with two canes as I walk. I like the walker better for now, but I know I can be walking soon with the two canes, hopefully down to one and down the road a little ways without any my aids.
That’s my goal and I will take my time getting to that goal, as my confidence factor improves. It’s still gonna be a while before I take to the streets with two canes. I want to make sure I can navigate my apartment first before I venture out on the sidewalks and streets of our town.
Now that the weather appears to be turning toward the good, I recently took my recovery to another step. I’m now confident walking down my street and taking the bus in town and doing some walking on Locust Street. Perhaps in time, I could see myself walking in town, but I’m not going to push it.
So, why am I walking about a half block to get the bus to go in town?
Well, one it is a confidence factor. My confidence has grown over the many months thanks to the work of Josh and Aaron at the Columbia Health Center’s physical therapy facility. Had it not been for their work with me, it’s doubtful I’d be walking or have the ability to walk any distance at all.
Secondly, I was getting a real bad case of cabin fever. There’s only so much daytime television and playing on the computer one can handle in a day’s time. That might not change in a few weeks when spring training starts, who knows.
So, why I am writing about my ability to get the bus in town. Well, outside of it being a new venture for me, its kind of different.
There were two things that worried me at first. One, was the condition of the street I live on, which like many of our streets in town, isn’t the greatest. Worried about taking a dive on Ninth Street and going down Joe Frazier back in the day when he fought Ali. That wouldn’t be good. Plus, I really wasn’t sure about using the steps to get on the bus, but have had no problem.
Of course now that I’ve started my week day trek on an almost daily basis, there are a couple of other things I have noticed, I’d like to bring to everyone’s attention, if they haven’t noticed.
One, is no two sidewalks in Columbia are the same. They may look the same, but they are raised in some areas the cracks are not always the same. I’m surprised more people haven’t gone down for the eight count, so to speak.
And there was one area I recently walked in, where it look as though someone did some cleaning on the sidewalks with water and it iced up a little. There was no salt or anything placed on the sidewalk and was a lawsuit waiting to happen if someone had fallen.
I’ve also noticed our streets are in not the greatest shape, but then we all knew that, but also, they are in need of a good cleaning. I understand the borough’s street sweeper has been down and will be down for a long period of time, but all of the streets have been punished by the winter mess. That makes walking sometimes a little dangerous.
All in all though, the “new: experience of walking our streets hasn’t been too bad, I just got to be able to dodge the land mines myself and others have been presented.

A new start, new name to blog

Since I received word this afternoon that the Columbia Register has decided to end publication as of next Thursday Feb.11, I've decided to go back to soething I really enjoyed -- blogging.

I did it about a year ago until the Columbia Ledger folded its doors and still feel that our great town neeeds a way to hear and read about what is going on in our community.

I'd like to start the re-named Tide Talk and name it Columbia Talk and use this venue to let people know what is going on at meetings and troughout the community.

But to do this, I need everyone's help. Send me information on community evets, press releases, including pictures. You can reach me at or via my cell at 342-1234. My mailing address is 644 South Ninth St.

I'd like to make this work.