Spent Friday rearranging Ellie’s bedroom furniture in anticipation of Donny and her visiting after delivering our third grandchild in the next month or so. It’s another transition mark. Last week I reluctantly accepted that a link to part of my athletic past had to be discarded to make way for solar power equipment monitors inside our garage: I threw out my volleyball net and eight foot poles.
Since my teenage years volleyball has been an important part of my life. From the ages of 14 through 22, I played in intense, invitation-only games every Saturday afternoon at summer camp. More significantly, I courted my wife playing volleyball, or rather she courted me.
Gilda and I formally met late spring 1969 at a meeting of incoming presidents of various Brooklyn College house plans. She was the next president of Russell House and one of, if not the first, female representatives on student government council. Aside from being the newly elected president of Knight House I was the editor-in-chief of Calling Card, the House Plan Association newspaper. We agreed that night she would contribute articles on the happenings of student government.
But she had her sights on more athletic happenings, as well. Russell was known for its beauty, not brawn. Gilda wanted to expand Russell’s appeal. Her goal was to hook up with Knight House during the fall co-ed volleyball season. I was part of the Knight House team that was a powerhouse in men’s intramurals and co-ed play. Gilda, on the other hand, was a gamer but not a very good player. Indeed, during one game, after she took a hard spike to the chest, I benched her, and not just for her own safety.
Nevertheless, our mutual affection for each other grew during the season. We started dating when Gilda asked me to accompany her to a Christmas party at the Brooklyn Heights home of one of her political science professors.
During my years on Chain Store Age I played on our company’s co-ed team in the publishing division of the corporate volleyball league at LaGuardia High School on Tenth Avenue. I was, admittedly, no longer as springy a jumper back then. I adapted from being a spiker to set-up man, mostly for Dan Bagan and John Kenlon. Together with Milford Prewitt, Roni Iszak Townson and Crystal Broomes-Deane, we won the championship once, maybe even twice. For many years I sported a two and a half foot tall trophy on top of a cabinet behind my desk.
After our family moved to our current house in 1984, I turned our side yard into a regulation-sized volleyball court for staff parties and get-togethers with friends. Gilda’s garden and an expanded patio cut into the court size, but what really killed off playtime was … age. I could no longer jump, twist and turn. The poles and net were relegated to hang along the wall of the garage for a decade or longer. They’re gone now, but not the memories.