Back in the day, basketball coaches would send their eighth graders, freshmen and sophomores to the courts where the competition was fierce so they could get in shape for the season, and to see how the real game was played.
Such was the venue on Star Hill’s “Chickenyard.”
So named because of it being a former roost for chickens, it became the place where the best pick-up ball was played.
Here the top talents from around town would battle into the night and the up-and-comers would wait for a chance to throw them a towel or pass some water or, gulp, actually get into the game.
This was before Harborview was built and the Fifth/Sixth Street Gym sheltered hoopers from the elements in the winter and the Chickenyard beckoned the ballers in the summer.
Following is an account written in the 1951-52 J-Bird.
Basketball Runs Wild With Chickenyard Boys
Whenever you see boys coming to school with black eyes, broken fingers, scratches and bruises, then you know that the night before the boys have had their annual basketball game at the chickenyard. Some boys call these games basketball, but in my words these games take the shape of football, soccer and wrestling combined.
When the games are in progress anybody might see these sights taking place:
Sonny and “Fats” arguing who’s doing all the fouling, Kadow and Carlson still playing but arguing who’s going to take Penny out over the weekend. “Weepy” is sitting on the sidelines weeping because he’s still too small to play with the big boys. Greg is lying in the mud looking for the player who pushed him, then there’s always Hugh calling time out because he’s tired. My, but what girls do to boys.
The younger generation is sitting on the sidelines cheering their team on or crabbing because they can’t play. Then the game suddenly comes to an end and the players flop to the ground, but only for a few minutes, then there is a roaring of motors and screaming of tires as boys leave in their cars. By this time it’s nearly dark and the still younger generation gets the court - Oh yes, Weepy gets to play. But all in all every body seems to be happy.