Saturday, October 10, 2009

Story About Wally Kincaid

I heard that he was working in the area just recently (we are in Villa Park).  Wally Kincaid was one of the two most important people in my life aside from my father.  He taught so much more than just basketball, as if his exceptionalism was not enough in basketball alone.  He set a very high standard to which most all of us who played for him tried our best to achieve and maintain.  I doubt there is a month that goes by that I do not think about him or something he taught us.  Talk about the gift that keeps on giving.  Both of my sons turned out to be pretty good basketball players.  What I learned from Kincaid at Downey and Cerritos helped me be in a position to participate in the coaching of my sons in high school.  If I had not had the knowledge gained from my association with Kincaid that would never have been possible.  That is a 1000 to 1 shot that any high school coach would ever allow an outsider, a father of a player, be one of the coaches.  Sometimes I would be in the middle of a practice or game and would tell a player to do something or change an offensive or defensive approach of the team and I would start laughing to myself because what I was doing was simply repeating exactly what was learned from Wally Kincaid.  Innumerable lessons for life were imparted to my five children learned from Wally Kincaid.

I maintain that the Downey experience was so remarkable in so many ways.  Downey High School had magnificent coaches in almost every sport at a time when there were so many very good athletes and at a time when Downey was still a fairly small tight knit community.   The football team brought not only the school but the whole community in tighter.  Can you imagine today any school/community sending 4 or 5 big buses all the way to Antelope Valley to see a football game (in painfully cold weather)?  We yelled all the way there and all the way back.  Was it my imagination or were all the women in those years fun and good looking?  Cheerleaders were great.  This was a time when we had our own football stadium, first class I might add.  The baseball field was a work of art because of Kincaid.  The basketball gym was very old but full of history and even humor.  Often the gym was heated up to a very high temperature for practice and then for a game.  Visiting teams would often absolutely wilt in the heat of a small confined gym (told you Kincaid was smart).  The school itself was old but so full of history and tradition.  We could walk to town (sometimes after ditching a class) and be back in time for the next class.  Was Pulley's pharmacy and soda shop a hoot or not?  Right out of the early 1900's.  How about driving up and down Downey avenue throwing water balloons at each other's cars?  Orange fights in the groves off Cherokee, Lakewood, etc.?  Swimming all summer at the school pool?  It was barefoot all summer.  Speaking of swimming.  How many years in a row did Downey High School win the water polo A, B and C league divisions?  How many water polo players went to USC and UCLA.....and the Olympics?  Hey, and we had our grad night on campus where it was just us and not 20 other high schools at Disneyland.  How about the weekends when the line to get a haircut at Lash's rogue barber shop in his parents garage was long.  Since it was right at the back gate to East Junior High School we used to shoot hoops while waiting.  I lost my haircut money many a day doing that.
Fortunately there was a little time left over for classes as well.  
Harvey's broiler was the hangout for many.  I was amazed when I went out of state to college and so many people from Southern California had been to Harvey's in Downey.  McDonald's at Florence and Lakewood was not the original but I think it was the second McDonalds (not entirely sure about this).  If there was nobody at Harveys then they were all at McDonalds.  How about Wild Bill's in the same McDonald's center where many got their gas for 15 cents a gallon?  How about Savon's next to North Junior High where it seemed that the manager hired every good looking girl in Downey including several of the homecoming queens.

I am amazed at how many Downey High people are now living in Orange County.  We have several in our small community of Villa Park and there are quite a few more very close by.  We lived in Corona Del Mar for a time and our children were going to Carden Hall.  So winds up being my oldest son's teach but Kay Leary from our class of 58.  Beautiful and nice woman.  Her father was a doctor in Downey.  I remember one night some hoodlums I was with  went to Kay's house with a bag of excretement.  We (they) put in on the porch lit it with a match, rang the doorbell and ran.  I admonished these hoodlums the rest of the evening for doing this.  There is a statute of limitations for these offenses right?

Here is an oddball story.  Anybody remember Bob Curtis?  Played basketball, class of 57 I believe.  He eventually became a Downey Police officer.  Unfortunately Bob died of cancer a few short years ago.  Bob had a great sense of humor and was just a great all round guy, good looking and popular.  He was a motorcycle cop and this is the story.  He stops this woman for a citation one day and walks up to her car in his tight uniform pants.  He gets her I.D. and then she looks out the window and says, "How do you get into those tight pants"?  Bob says, "Well, we could start with a couple of bottles of wine and see what happens from there".  I guess the woman reported him to the department for that one.

Said too much and spent too much time.  Hope I did not offend anyone.

Gary McArthur

1 comment:

  1. Gary, Thank you for this nice tribute to my dad. He is here visiting and I will make sure he gets to read this since he doesn't have a computer.
    All the best,