Intersection Column | Stories from My Youth
by Susie Finkbeiner
A couple of years ago, I walked to the neighborhood park with my kids. It was a sunny day, just right for spending time outdoors. The boys brought along a basketball, my daughter had her rollerblades, and I’d brought a book and found a bench in the shade.
Between chapters, I noticed my boys struggling a little to get the ball through the hoop. It was a good three feet taller than the one they were used to at home, and they were growing a little frustrated.
“Hey, let me show you something,” I said, saving my place with a bookmark before heading to the court. “Toss me the ball.”
The boys gave each other skeptical glances, but I’m the mom, so they passed the basketball to me.
I dribbled the ball, moving my way to where the free throw line would be if anyone had bothered to touch up the paint on the cracked pavement. Bending just a little bit at the knees, I lifted the ball, pushing it toward the basket with a flick of the wrist and just the tiniest little hop off the ground.
My boys gave me drop-jawed gapes of surprise when the ball hit the backboard—the upper right-hand corner of where the red square should have been—and dropped through the hoop.
“Still got it,” I whispered.
“How did you do that?” one of my boys asked.
“Buddy, I played basketball.” I shrugged before putting my hands up so he’d throw me the ball. “I played for eight years.”
“How come you never told us?” the other boy asked.
“It was a long time ago.”
He passed me the ball and I made a layup. Boy, it felt good.
My novel The All-American is partially about the women of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League that ran from 1943-1954 in the Midwest. I thoroughly enjoyed researching the plucky ladies who played ball professionally. What a group of gals!
One detail that surprised me, though, was how many of the ladies didn’t talk about their experiences once they returned home. They just packed up their uniforms, stowing them away in the attic where kids and grandkids would find them years down the road.
When asked why they didn’t tell their children, a few of the ladies simply stated that it was a long time ago and they didn’t think anyone would think it terribly interesting.
Upon learning that, I thought about the first time I played basketball with my boys at the park, of how surprised they were to find out that I’d played sports—and not too shabbily, either. I hadn’t been trying to keep it from them. It was just a part of my life that I didn’t think they’d be interested in.
While writing The All-American I hoped to reignite the memory of the All-American Girls like Marie “Little Zig” Zeigler of the Grand Rapids Chicks and Mirtha Fernandez of the Kalamazoo Lassies. I wanted to tell a little of the legacy of female athletes like Lois “Flash” Florreich of the South Bend Blue Sox and Mary “Windy” Reynolds of the Peoria Redwings.
And while writing I felt a renewed conviction to dig up some stories from my own youth to share with my kids.
I’ll never know which of my seemingly everyday memories might spark their interest.
About the Author
Susie Finkbeiner is the CBA bestselling author of All Manner of Things, which was selected as a 2020 Michigan Notable Book, as well as Stories That Bind Us, The Nature of Small Birds and other novels. Susie and her husband have three children and live in West Michigan. Learn more at www.susiefinkbeiner.com.
About the Book
It is 1952, and unlike all the other 16-year-old girls, Bertha Harding dreams of baseball. When her father is accused of being part of the Communist Party, life comes crashing down on them. But dreams are hard to kill, and when Bertha gets a chance to try out for the Workington Sweet Peas, she packs her bags for an adventure she'll never forget.
Did You Know?
Victory comes when we seek to live in congruence with God’s principles. Proverbs 21:31 proclaims, “Victory rests with the LORD.” In the book of Proverbs, we gain a glimpse of God’s battle plan to victory:
“He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless” (Proverbs 2:7 NIV).
"Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will go free” (Proverbs 11:21 NIV).
“The wicked are overthrown and are no more, but the house of the righteous stands firm” (Proverbs 12:7 NIV).
"The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10).
Do you notice a common thread in what is our part in garnering victory? Living righteous and upright. Righteousness capsulized means blameless, innocent and just; and upright is to live on the straight path. Living in God’s guidelines is to live on the path of wisdom. No matter what the victories are that you long to achieve, know that if that desire matches God’s heart and Word, God is in it with you!
-Pam Farrel, Jean E Jones & Karla Dornacher, Discovering Wisdom in Proverbs
Why I LOVE My Local Christian Bookstore
“I love shopping in bookstores because when I walk in the door, I smell the aroma of adventure and mystery and new beginnings. What better place is there to lift your spirits!”
-Michele McCarthy, Across the Sky