The following “letter” is part of the continuing series from the unpublished novel by James Garrett, “Benicia Letters Once More”. He does not plan to publish the book but instead is choosing to share the letters with the readers of the Benicia Herald. The letters continue the storyline of Garrett’s first novel “Benicia and Letters of Love”. Each “letter” tells of love in one of its many forms from a separate point of view. Benicia is represented prominently in the letters because of Garrett’s deep fondness for the city of Benicia. He hopes readers see themselves or others they know in the letters because the concept of “Love” is universal.
There were many times on a Saturday or Sunday or during vacation times when a bunch of us would get together to play touch football on Sanborn Field, baseball at City Field or basketball on the outdoor courts on the west side of what is now the Civic Center Gym. It was our school gym in those days and the area next to it, where we played basketball, is now a parking lot for the Benicia Public Library. I admit we played some indoor basketball also.
Once on a Saturday we snuck into the high school gym by climbing through the windows in the boys shower room. We then went through the locker room and up the stairs. We probably only played there about half an hour. I think we were just testing ourselves a little but knew we shouldn’t be there and left.
The other spot we played indoors was in what everyone called the “old gym.” It was on East K Street across from Sanborn Field. There have been apartments on that site since about 1960. The entrance was at the left front of the building. We would go down that side of the building to get to a window at the back, climb in, and play.
I guess some neighbor usually “squealed” to the “fuzz” because it almost always happened that there would be some noise at the front door after we had been there awhile. I think a friendly policeman was letting us know he was around. We would bail out the back window like modern day sky divers and “boogie” our “fannies” out of there. The guys I was with never got caught, maybe some others did.
I can distinctly remember the aroma of that old gym. It was made of wood and I’ve smelled the same or similar aromas at times through life in cabinets and cabins. It is a good aroma. There is a life to the aroma based on not only the wood and stain or varnish, but also of people and time. It is part of a love for Benicia.
High Top Connies
James Garrett is a lifelong resident of Benicia and a former teacher at Benicia High School. He is the author of the following novels: “Benicia and Letters of Love,” “The Mansion Stories,” “Chief Salt,” and “One Great Season, 9-0!” He also compiled a three-volume work titled “The Golden Era: Benicia High School Football, The 1948 through 1960 Seasons, “A” History with Comments.”
He can be contacted at email@example.com.