Tonight is the NCAA Men’s Final, the premiere college basketball title in the U.S.

Strictly coincidental, my 8th grade friend raised a question about what we remembered about the old school in tiny Ross ND in 1953-54.  My brother, John, sent along photos he took in 2014, traveling through Ross, and finding the old school being demolished.  We lived in the town and our parents taught in the school for that single year of 1953-54.  We lived in a tiny “teacherage” next to the school itself.

One of the photos was this one of the old gym in the school:

Remnants of Ross Gym, Oct 16, 2014

Certainly the subject of the photo leaves something to be desired – it was wreckage, after all.  The school was being demolished.  But the photo, especially the backboard, brought back a flood of memories to me.

In 7th grade, 1952-53, in another town I got interested in basketball.  But I broke my leg ice-skating.  So, after only two games my first season was over….

8th grade we were in Ross, living right next to the school, and since Dad was administrator I could spend lots of time in the gym, and did.

The season started with a bang. The first two games in this little gym I scored over 20 points – pretty unconscious for an 8th grader:  24 and 22 points if I recall correctly.  It seemed that if I threw the ball up, it went in the basket.

As the season went on, I actually did pretty good, but never reached 20 points again.  But it was my most memorable season.

Here I am in that season.  Look for #5:  This was the high school team.  In the little towns most every boy was enlisted to play.  We weren’t NBA or NCAA calibre like UConn or San Diego State; nonetheless, we could play.

Ross basketball team 1953-54 Dick B #5 front row second from right.  Others, front row from left Joe Omar Donnie Wamre, Dennis Stahlberg, me, Larry Vachal.  Back row from left: Terry Christenson, Richard Rehab, Dean Rehab, Jerry Olson, Vic Cvancara.   Don’t remember coaches name.

Highlight of my year that year, in addition to the first two games, was going to the County tournament in Williston ND.  We were a tiny school, so those in our league would be similar: places, like Epping, Wheelock, Ray, White Earth, McGregor, Alamo, Wild Rose, Alkabo and similar that others may be able to name.

Best I recall, we may have been the first team to go on the floor for the first game in that brand new field house which was, to us, immense.

It was time to go on the floor, and no one wanted to be first, so I took the ball and dribbled out.  To my recollection, there were no fans in the stands, and the scale of the place took some getting used to.  The field house seemed to be (and probably was) enormous.  I don’t know who we played or if we won or lost.  It was just memorable.

A few years later a Williston kid started to build a reputation in that same building.  His name was Phil Jackson, and he went on to many stellar accomplishments ending as head coach of the LA Lakers.

But I beat him to the court back in 1954!

Now it’s near 70 years later, the field house has long been history, but still there are kids dreaming, and that’s a good thing.

Way to go, out there on the driveway, or anywhere you might be.  Keep on, keeping on.

Sunset for the Ross School, October 2014. Photos John Bernard, taken from the footprint of the house we lived in that year.

Ross high school band Williston ND 1954

Esther and Henry Bernard at the Ross School 1953-54.  Dad would have been 47 at the time, Mom 45.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.