Where did all the people go?


Quick update: Last week I asked what was so special about Damar Hamlin. Damar, Damar, Damar! That’s all I heard on all media. He did, in fact, suffer a grievous injury to his heart. OK, I said. Football is a violent sport, it will abide. Monday night, Russel Gage, who plays for Tampa Bay, was hit in the back of his head and hurt his spine. He may never play football again, but it looks like he will recover. The media is not touching this story. Most of you have never heard of this incident. Go back and look at what I wrote.

And for those of you who called me a heartless brute, if you can’t deal with pain, don’t play football.

Back in the ‘50s, I was one of the little kids who made up the first organized youth baseball teams in Hillsboro. My dad, George Boone, was one of the young, civic-minded men who banded together to institute several community betterments, e.g. the Elks Golf Course; after the new Highland District Hospital was built, they spent several nights after work putting together all the beds and other furniture and, of course, the new baseball complex. I remember one Saturday doing the grunt work of lugging concrete blocks from the delivery truck over to where the dugouts would be built. I don’t remember who else was there, so I must have carried them all by myself. Then the adults came in to do the lighter, finish work, building the dugouts, creating all the diamonds, erecting the electric poles, the fences, etc. You know – the light work.

They did this out of love. They never received a penny for their efforts. I spent every summer at that ballpark playing, meeting friends, flirting with girls. So many memories. Years later, returning to Hillsboro as a single parent of three boys, we were there every day. I remember walking to the parking lot with another parent after a game and the other parent remarking that I must be out there every evening and I remember saying, “Yep. But what better place to spend your summer.” And the same goes for thousands of other kids and their families. I hazard to say our baseball complex is as good as any you’ll find anywhere.

Dad, and many of his cronies, was a member of the Junior Chamber of Commerce and the local chapter of the Elks Club. One of the Elks projects was to build the golf course. This was around 1960. It was a big deal at the time. I, and a few of my friends, would hang out there in the morning hoping to get a caddy gig. Didn’t happen very often — twice, actually. Most days we just hung out and had fun. A local retired doctor, Dr. Sites senior, found out that I liked to play chess and he would bring out his set and we would play. This friendship lasted several years and I received a liking for the game that endures to this day.

In 1962, the new Highland District Hospital was built. Dad and his buddies volunteered to put the beds together. As they pulled the pieces out of large boxes, it became my duty to drag the cardboard boxes into the hallway for later disposal. I don’t remember any of those men complaining or wondering why they were doing all this for nothing. What I remember is those guys joking around and having a good time. They liked each other.

Dad and his group helped organized the 1957 sesquicentennial. They promoted many of the activities and made sure the event was memorable. I recall many of the men, including dad, grew facial hair in homage to the styles of 1807. Those who didn’t and attended the activities in the center of town were subject to arrest and confinement to a pretend jail. We had a bicentennial several years ago and it came and went without much fanfare at all.

For several years they put together Soap Box Derby races. The cars started on a raised platform in the middle of Main Street and continued at a high rate of speed west and down the hill. Only a few kids got trophies. The losers got nothing. This was before the days of “participation awards.”

Those are just a few I can recall as I type. There were others. They hired a lady to come into town and she organized a community play and they all had parts. I remember Jake Wagoner dressing like a hula girl, along with Smoke Walker. I remember Donnie Jones had one of the major parts. They put it on and the entire town packed in to enjoy it.

So, what happened? Where are the men and women today who have the energy and consideration for community involvement? I ask the question because I simply have no answer. If anyone reading this knows, fill me in. What happened?

Garry Boone in a Hillsboro resident.

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