Friday, August 26, 2016

New Deal Basketball

Above: The caption for this photo reads, in part: "Seeing no reason why this signboard should be discarded once it had outlived its usefulness [i.e., after the new school was built], Cabot school officials [Vermont] ingeniously discovered that it was just the right size for a basketball backboard..." The New Deal's Public Works Administration (PWA) funded hundreds of new schools across America, and many of them had gymnasiums with basketball courts, as well as outdoor basketball courts. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Above: The work-relief programs of the New Deal also built or improved basketball courts. For example, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) built many thousands of schools, gymnasiums, and playgrounds. In 1940, the WPA developed Taylor Park in Keedysville, Maryland (pictured above). Today, area residents can pass the time--and stay fit--playing basketball at the park. Photo by Brent McKee.

Above: For many decades, before it was neglected and demolished, this WPA-built gymnasium and basketball court served the town of Manteo, North Carolina. Photo by Brent McKee.

The WPA not only constructed and repaired basketball courts, it also fielded a basketball team - the "District WPA." According to a 1937 Washington Post article, "Crack WPA Quintet Becomes Favorite to Capture Crown" (March 1), the WPA basketball team was coached by George E. Allen (head of the WPA in D.C. and also a D.C commissioner) and consisted of the players Dopey Dean, Reds Scheible, Chick Hollidge, Bobby Lucas, Bernie Lieb, Bill Noonan, Ollie Tipton, and Ollie Mayfield. Competing teams included the "Navy Yard Marines" "Flying Eagles," "Treasury Department," and "Silver Spring Merchants."

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