“Smooth as a baby’s bottom” is how my brother described our old football. He was right; it was so slick that it was difficult to get a grip on the ball making it a challenge to throw. Now, the ball was old enough that we couldn’t even remember when we had replaced the worn stitching with shoestrings from an old pair of sneakers. We often laughed about our stitching effort.
I remember the day dad brought the ball home. It came with a plastic tee. Up until that time we did not have a real football. We had made our footballs from old socks, paper or anything else we could shape sort of like a football.
Dad wasn’t much of a football fan. He thought it was a game in which large men were free to pummel small men, period. Football held his interest only until the tip-off of the college basketball season. We were surprised the day he pulled into the drive, and tossed us a box with a football and a tee. It was something that we marveled at, and couldn’t wait to start kicking.
We began kicking it off the tee with miserable results, often sending the football to crash into the side of the house. At least, until dad moved us out to the field to play. We enjoyed our new football, kicking it off, tackling one another, laughing, and spending countless hours running in the field.
We played with the ball for about eight years, having thrown thousands of passes and having played hundreds of games with other kids from the neighborhoods we lived in. These were countless hours of fun we had with the ball, sharing good times with each other, family, and making new friends.
Finally, the ball was near flat, and we purchased another, a better quality football. We were home on leave, and I noticed the old ball sitting on the trash pile mom had for me to take out to the bin.
As I tossed the other items in the bin, I thought about all the fun times, friends, and games we had played with this old relic. Laughed to myself at the knocks, the friendships, and good times we had over the years.
I heard a voice call out “Mister, what are you going to do with that ball?” I responded that I was getting ready to toss it into the trash bin. I turned around to see two boys about 8 years of age. I recognized them as two brothers from the neighborhood. “Can we have the ball?” I said “sure,” and tossed the ball to one of the boys.
They proceeded to go down the alley tossing the ball from one to the other, laughing and enjoying their newly found treasure.
I was soon off to my duty station in