Share This Episode
Our American Stories Lee Habeeb Logo

EP260: Enrique the Penguin Who Wears Shoes, Don't Wear Slippers to a Job Interview and Iowa's Long-Lost NBA Team Who Beat the Celtics

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
April 13, 2022 3:00 am

EP260: Enrique the Penguin Who Wears Shoes, Don't Wear Slippers to a Job Interview and Iowa's Long-Lost NBA Team Who Beat the Celtics

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 1929 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.


April 13, 2022 3:00 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Marija Elden, the Zoological Manager of Birds, shares Enrique’s journey to owning a pair of pretty cool kicks after being diagnosed with arthritis in his feet. Joshua Texidor tells us how it takes some time to find what we enjoy AND what we're good at. Tim Harwood of Waterloo/Cedar Fall's KXEL 1540 and author of Ball Hawks: The Arrival and Departure of the NBA in Iowa tells us the story of the only professional sports team ever to play in Iowa.

Support the show (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate)

 

Time Codes:

00:00 - Enrique the Penguin Who Wears Shoes

10:00 - Don't Wear Slippers to a Job Interview 

23:00 - Iowa's Long-Lost NBA Team Who Beat the Celtics

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
Our American Stories
Lee Habeeb

What up?

It's Dramos. You may know me from the recap on LATV. Now I've got my own podcast, Life as a Gringo, coming to you every Tuesday and Thursday.

We'll be talking real and unapologetic about all things life, Latin culture and everything in between from someone who's never quite fit in. Listen to Life as a Gringo on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts. Brought to you by State Farm.

Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there. Hi, this is Jam and Em from In Our Own World Podcast. Michael Duda Podcast Network and Coca-Cola celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with empowering voices like Rosalind Sanchez. My childhood was in Puerto Rico. I moved to the States when I was almost 22 years old. I have so many dreams, I have so many ambitions, and I've been so blessed to be able to come to this country and little by little with hard work and discipline.

Check that list. I have many things that I want to continue doing and accomplish, but I was just a girl with dreams from a little island in the Caribbean. Listen to He Said, Hea Dijo Podcast hosted by Rosalind Sanchez and Eric Winter on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts. Brought to you by Coca-Cola, proud sponsor of the Michael Duda Podcast Network. Hispanic heritage is magic, baby. This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories and we tell stories about everything on this show and we love your story.

Send them to OurAmericanStories.com for some of our favorites. Today, you're going to hear from Maria Elden. Maria is the zoological manager of birds, the St. Louis Zoo. She'll be speaking on behalf of Enrique, a 30-year-old penguin with arthritis who just so happens to wear shoes. Enrique is a southern rock hopper penguin and he is an elderly bird. He's about 30 years old. Penguins tend to live about 15 years old.

Penguins that live in zoos live a very cushy life. He's just a gentle bird. He is really easygoing.

That's unlike rock hoppers a little bit. Rock hoppers are very vivacious, very in your face, but Enrique kind of has a softer side to him. He is quite the handsome little bird. He's got a girlfriend and apparently as we found out this morning, another female liked what she saw.

So this morning he had two girlfriends. Enrique came to St. Louis Zoo in 2016 and he prior to that had lived at Omaha Zoo. Zoos talk to each other a lot and before any zoo receives any animal, there is a lot of communication. What does the animal like?

What does it not like? Behaviors that are good and maybe some that are not so good and the veterinarians also receive a lot of information about medical history. He had signs of arthritis already at that point and so there was no surprise. We didn't just open a box of penguins and see that one wasn't feeling well. We knew what we were getting and we were prepared and that's super important. With arthritis, you notice that they're slowing down a little bit, maybe not coming up for food just as fast. Maybe wait for some of the more spry neighbors to run up to the food first and our keepers are really well versed in not only general bird behavior, but we hone in on the individuals too. So when one is feeling off a little bit, we know right away. Enrique is an active swimmer and that's great, but we couldn't have any topical creams that alleviate some of the arthritic pain.

They will kind of rinse away. So thinking outside the box can help us. I think animal people are a special group of people where very few things surprise us because we have to think outside of the box so often. With humans, an arm is an arm and a leg is a leg, but with animals, there's so much variation. Our veterinary team who are really great at coming up with all sorts of ideas found a company that makes little shoes for working dogs and dogs that just need additional help after injuries.

So our vets were able to connect with that company. We were able to trace Enrique's feet and get measurements and the amazing people who can sew very well made the shoes for him. The first time we put them on, he kind of looked at his feet and looked at us and then took off running. What the shoes do is just to protect his feet and give a little bit of extra padding for him. The original pair that was sent, we found that he just needed a little bit more cushion and it needed to give a little bit more grip. With rock hopper penguins, their feet are very important. They grip the rock as they're climbing up, but because we just put shoes on him, he couldn't quite grip. So we ended up receiving a second pair of shoes. Now this pair of shoes was hot pink on the bottom as opposed to the first set of shoes, which was all black, but no one cared. A few just kind of looked. Some kind of tried to come over and check it out, but he would just tell them no. He is very vocal and he bites. So once everyone figured out like he's not going to let you mess with his shoes. He was, he was good. He was golden. It has become such a routine for him that he really doesn't mind and it makes little difference to his mate.

So we do put them on at about 10 o'clock in the morning and take them off at about three. His mate Paris, she just sees him go up and he comes back and she's like, okay, this is great. Sometimes you'll see him with his wing over her, which is very cute. It is nice that he does get some time to just be a penguin. We really take his behavior into account. We do know that it does provide him with some comfort just based on the way that he stands. We keep track on a weekly basis to make sure is he eating?

Is he getting around? And what we have seen is that he does swim with the boots on too. And that's an important factor for penguins. Penguins should swim and he does still swim. He is still social with his mate.

They preen each other all the time. And as long as he's doing those things and having a good appetite, we know that he is comfortable. Since we have tried this out, our veterinarians have been in contact with a few other zoos who asked us how it went and they considered it for some of their penguins. So the zoos are spreading.

There are a few other penguins that are getting some relief too. The opportunities to enrich the lives of our animals are endless. And it really takes a lot of innovation and collaboration to continue to provide the best care for these animals.

It is great that the story is getting out about Enrique and his shoes, but it is also such a minor thing for us. You know, we made him comfortable and that was our job. There are so many other things that we do for our animals that maybe are just not quite as visible, but also have a big impact. And I just hope that the story helps the guests that visit St. Louis Zoo see the dedication that we put into the care for all of our animals.

And beautiful production work by Madison on the piece. And a special thanks to Maria Elden who is the zoological manager of birds at the St. Louis Zoo. And it's a world-class zoo. I spent many summers in my life in St. Louis and that was always one of my favorite days. And I don't know many kids or adults who don't love just visiting a zoo if you get to St. Louis.

By all means, visit this terrific zoo. What a thing that Maria just said. We made him comfortable. That's our job.

Indeed it is. Crafting a special pair of shoes for a 30-year-old arthritic penguin named Enrique. That story here on Our American Stories. Folks, if you love the great American Stories we tell and love America like we do, we're asking you to become a part of the Our American Stories family. If you agree that America is a good and great country, please make a donation.

A monthly gift of $17.76 is fast becoming a favorite option for supporters. Go to OurAmericanStories.com now and go to the donate button and help us keep the great American Stories coming. That's OurAmericanStories.com. This is Our American Stories and now we bring you a story from Joshua Texador. You can listen to his entire story at our website, OurAmericanStories.com.

It's a great one about overcoming hardship and taking responsibility for your life. Today we bring you a piece of his story that begins after Josh decided to own up on an alcohol dependency, move to Nashville, get married and take his own life into his own hands. I got to Nashville on a Sunday and I had a job interview that Wednesday. It was working that following Monday. And then I've basically, you know, busted my ass ever since that day.

And that was what we're talking almost three years ago. So I interviewed for FedEx, United Postal Service, Unarmored Factory and UPS. I definitely went after the Postal Service because they're always hiring.

So I knew I could get a job as soon as I got there from going to the postal office. And I hated it, hated it, hated it, hated it, hated it. I hated it to the point where I said, I'm going to make enough money.

I will never, ever have to do this ever again. Being a package handler at a post office distribution center sucks. It is the worst job ever. And then, you know, yes, I was making $16 an hour.

When I tell you that you're going to work for every single penny, you're going to earn every single penny from working as a package handler. And I was on one of the harder lines because they just see me like I'm not a small guy. So I was on one of the toughest lines at the job site. So I was in charge of three and a half trucks. You got people who are responsible for like two trucks. I have three and a half trucks. And when our belt got crazy, because there's like a, our belt, there was a top and a bottom.

So you have like local packages and you have like, like a real, non-local packages, whatever. So when our local packages would fill up, I would have to stop loading my truck, go down on the bottom belt and help let them load that part, just for me to go back to the top of the belt and start loading my trucks again. Because the volume was getting so crazy. We had, instead of going in at three in the morning, we were going in at two o'clock in the morning. So from two o'clock in the morning to like eight o'clock, I'm picking up boxes, no bathroom break, picking up boxes. And I'm just like, I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever do this again. And it wasn't so much that you couldn't go to the bathroom. I just knew if I went to the bathroom and came back, I was going to have to play catch up. So I would purposely just not go, but you know, go, I was like, I can't do this anymore.

And then I tried to get a manager job at Dunkin Donuts. Terrible. I was there for two days. I said, I'm good. I'm good. I'm not doing this anymore.

So the fun is funny. I was in the post office and I was doing, and I was doing Dunkin Donuts at the same time for those two days. So when I left on the second day, the very next day I went to FedEx, there's a security company there.

It's called Allied Universal. So I started talking to them. I said, Hey man, like it's, how's that job? And they're like, yeah, it's good. You know, it's not bad.

And I'm looking at them and they're getting paid and they're not really doing much of anything. So I said, man, I should just go out and I should go out and do that. And that day I applied for Allied Universal. The hiring process was great. Well, for me, it was great.

I think it's hysterical. The day, the day of my interview. So in the paperwork, you know, in the paperwork, in the application, it says, you know, you need to be clean shaven and you know, you need to look presentable. So I went out, got a haircut. I had a full beard, cut the whole beard off.

I was clean shaven. And you know, in my mind, it's an interview. So I have, uh, you know, I got a button up shirt, a tie. I got khakis and shoes on. I go to the building. I get to the building. I'm like, and I'm walking past the room that I'm supposed to go to, but in the room there's like a bunch of people. So I'm like, I was like, man, I'm in the wrong place. So a lady who sent out a desk, she's like, Hey, what are you looking for? I'm like, I'm here to apply for, I'm here for the Allied interview.

And she's like, Oh, you're in the right place, man. When I tell you, I'm the only person dressed up. I'm the only person dressed up in the entire room. I'm laughing at myself. I'm like, yo, they cannot be serious right now. Like who shows up like this for a job interview? I'm the only person dressed up. They had one girl in there with slippers, slippers, she had slippers on and a spongebob pajama pants for a job interview.

I'm like, this girl's crazy. You know, and I, you know, I get high like that day. And I guess from the way I presented myself and how I did my interview, um, I got a really good job site and I ended up getting my job site was the country music hall of fame. It was, I don't want to say it was a, it was a learning curve. It was, it was like when I first got there. So remember, this is all new to me. This is, I think this is like the second or third month that I'm in Nashville.

So I don't even know anybody. And, um, I was going to quit. I was going to quit working, um, security and it wasn't so much that I didn't like the country music hall of fame.

Um, the leadership at the country music hall of fame for security, I was like, man, this, this is not good. Like it just seemed like people were just doing whatever they wanted. I was like, ah, I don't know if I'm going to make it here, but I remember I'm determined and pretty much like, uh, they hired me as part time there, but I ate up so many hours from people not showing up and plus they have events. So I was, I was getting like 40 hours just off events and covering other people's shifts.

And, um, they end up after three weeks of me really, you know, working hard, I got offered a supervisor position there and I, and I took it and I became the first year supervisor. And, you know, I definitely made some changes that weren't working. Cause I like, I like to do what works. I mean, people can say, Hey, you know, we've done this forever. I'm like, yeah, but you know, what worked 10 years ago is not going to work today. I mean, sometimes what happened last year is not going to work today.

So, you know, you have to adapt to what's going on. So I made some changes, uh, myself and the actual, uh, site supervisor, you know, we made some real strong changes and you know, we were working on just building a better culture and a better relationship from a security standpoint with the client and the client would be the country music hall of fame. And I 100% believe that we did that. And I ended up, you know, becoming the actual site supervisor of the entire thing.

And, you know, uh, running a staff of over, uh, over 30 people handling time sheets, uh, payroll, you know, handling all the scheduling. I think from my leadership there and from, you know, my hard work there, I've definitely built better relationships with the people at allies, universal security, as well as the country music hall of fame. And like I said, reputation is everything.

Respect is everything. And I think I've earned my respect with people. And I think my reputation is very, is long standing with the people that I've had to work with through my experience there. I mean, more than anything, your work ethic has to, it has to shine through. I, I mean, I myself, I was a site supervisor and I mean, I was doing 60, 70 hours a week, like steady and I'm, and I'm doing that, but I'm also making sure that the, my, I'm making sure that my other supervisors are taken care of. I'm making sure that like the new people are getting their hours.

Like I didn't just take hours because I can just take all the hours. I will literally let everybody eat and then I will pick up the crumbs, but everybody was getting a piece. So everybody's happy. Everybody's making money.

Everybody's comfortable. We changed the training at the hall of fame where it was more hands on rather than how it was before. It was kind of like, you know, just figure it out, you know, and it was, I mean, it was a, it was a really, really great experience for me to be there. And like when I was a site supervisor, anybody who came in who didn't have a car, I made sure I made sure like we got a lot of young people, like, you know, people fresh out of high school or people in college who didn't have cars, all those people who came who were like young people who didn't have cars, I made sure they all got cars. And that was like a big thing for me was at least helping young people, you know, get their accomplishments and at least pushing them along rather than saying, yeah, you work here, whatever, you know?

So I actually take pride in that. And you've been listening to Josh Texador and we were all wondering what would happen at Josh is my goodness. He had grown up right before our eyes in the first story.

Josh Texador's story here on Our American Stories. Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year. And UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15 through December 7. If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage.

It can seem confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Visit UHCmedicarehealthplans.com to learn more. UnitedHealthcare, helping people live healthier lives. I know everything there is to know about running a coffee shop. But for small business insurance, I need my State Farm agent. They make sure my business stays piping hot.

And I stay cool and confident. See, they're small business owners too. So they know how to help you best. State Farm is in your corner and on it. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

Call your local State Farm agent for a quote today. Doing household chores can already be time consuming and tedious. And there's nothing more daunting than facing piles and piles of laundry that need to be done.

I mean, that can be overwhelming for anyone. So if you want to get those larger laundry loads done right and get back to your life, try All-Free Clear Mega Packs. All-Free Clear Mega Packs are bigger packs with two times the cleaning ingredients compared to a regular pack so that you can tackle any laundry load without the worry. All-Free Clear Mega Packs are also 100% free of perfumes and dyes and they're gentle on skin, which is great for any family's sensitive skin needs, which my family, we definitely have sensitive skin. So the next time the whole family gets home from long vacation or you get the kids back from summer camp or whatever the situation is that's caused this big pile of dirty clothes, just know that All-Free Clear Mega Packs, they have your back.

Purchase All-Free Clear Mega Packs today and conquer any laundry load for all fabric types. This is Our American Stories and now a story from our own Monty Montgomery and Tim Harwood of Waterloo, Iowa's News Talk 1540 KXEL-AM. Tim is the author of Ball Hawks, a sports history about the Waterloo Hawks, a professional basketball team.

Here's Tim. During the era just after World War II, Waterloo had around 70,000 people give or take. Waterloo is an industrial city. It's in the middle of the farm belt, but it was the first place where John Deere tractors were ever built. So a big manufacturing base that might have been more reminiscent of a rust belt city in Ohio or Indiana or Michigan.

But this story isn't about John Deere tractors. It's about basketball. Waterloo Hawks basketball. The Hawks of the late 1940s and into the first years of the 1950s were unique because they were of course the only major league level team that Iowa has ever had going beyond Waterloo. It's a unique circumstance for the entire state and Waterloo was in the right place at the right time. But to understand why Waterloo ever had a professional basketball team, we have to go back.

Back to the Great Depression. During the Depression era, the best professional basketball players in the United States played for barnstorming teams. They'd travel around the country. They wouldn't have a set schedule. They'd pick up games as they could find them. And for the real stars of the era, they could make a very good living.

In fact, a better living doing that than they could trying to play for one team that might play two or three games a week. By the latter years of the Depression into the mid to late 1930s, there was a major league that formed. It was called the National Basketball League eventually. And the name is something of a misnomer if you think of sports that are in the National Basketball Association or the National Football League or the big major leagues that we have today. Because the game took root in places like Fort Wayne, Indiana and Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

And there were a variety of reasons for that. They had industrial bases. Many of the teams of that era were owned by companies. And so the players who took those opportunities, not only in many cases played basketball, but also worked for the company that might have owned the team or for another large business in the community. The National Basketball League was the preeminent league, though, through World War II. Coming out of the war years, the owners of major arenas in the East, primarily Madison Square Garden, Boston Garden, even Chicago Stadium more toward the Midwest and others got together and looked at basketball at the pro level as something that could fill their buildings.

They, in many cases, had success with college basketball games, particularly at Madison Square Garden during the 1930s and 40s, and thought that they could fill 25 to 30 or maybe more dates in their buildings that otherwise might be idle with professional basketball. They formed their own league, the Basketball Association of America. And for a few years, post-World War II, the National Basketball League, the Basketball Association of America competed against each other. And the level of competition rose.

It became challenging to try to get prestige. It became challenging to try to attract top players that were bidding wars for players in some cases. And that got expensive because there wasn't nearly the money in professional basketball in the 1940s that there is today. It was a matter of determining who would control the future of professional basketball. They came up with a variety of ways to try to approach that situation, but in the offseason between the 1947-48 schedule and the 1948-49 season, the Basketball Association of America hijacked four of the NBL's teams in their entirety. They talked the owners of the Minneapolis Lakers and the Fort Wayne Pistons and teams in Rochester, New York and Indianapolis, Indiana into jumping from one league to the other. So the National Basketball League in the summer of 1948 needed teams. They needed to fill out their roster of cities that would be able to make them a viable league. And they were able to add a few different clubs, including a team in Waterloo. The Hawks came into being because they had all the right elements in place. They had a hippodrome building on the National Cattle Congress fairgrounds that could seat seven to eight thousand people.

They had a basketball floor that was in place that was brand new. And they had a reputation already for supporting sports teams. They also were in very fortunate circumstance because a local who had moved on and become a wrestling promoter, primarily in Des Moines, had come into possession of the team's roster that had played in Toledo. The franchise rights had gone to a former boxer and boxing promoter, wrestling promoter named Pinky George. Pinky had been a fighter in the 1920s and ultimately had managed to make a career as a promoter through the Great Depression. He actually managed a couple of boxers who would fight Joe Lewis during their careers as they made their way up to the top of the boxing world and have a chance at legendary champion of the era. He had originally intended to bring professional basketball to Des Moines, but the details just didn't come together.

There wasn't the kind of support that he was hoping to have. It was challenging to find a venue to put the team in. And so because he was familiar with Waterloo after having grown up right next door in Cedar Falls, he decided that he put the Hawks in the hippodrome. And there was a lot of enthusiasm for that immediately from Waterloo fans who always, I think, felt like the city had a lot to offer. They felt like they had big shoulders for a small city, I think would be a fair way to describe it.

And so when they had this opportunity, they jumped at it. But the situation was still untenable between two leagues. The Basketball Association of America hadn't extinguished the NBL. The National Basketball League was still hanging on. And with bidding wars for players, with the efforts that both entities were having to put forth to try to claim that they were the preeminent league, it finally became inevitable. And you can tell from the acronyms that the two leagues used, the NBL and the BAA would come together.

They'd merge and become the NBA. They lost several teams in the process, but Waterloo was determined, the community and its leaders were determined that they were going to keep a team in the city and have a chance to play against opponents from New York and Boston and Philadelphia and all of the places that you really do think of as major league destinations then and now. Waterloo had its place, as they saw it, as the people of the time saw it, in major league basketball. They had players who were all Americans. They had visiting teams coming in that had stars that people knew from their years in college and who had gone on into professional basketball. They had players from the World War II era who had served during the war prior to returning to college and then ultimately becoming professional basketball players. And you've been listening to Tim Harwood of Waterloo, Iowa's News Talk, 1540 KXCL AM. And this is a story of a league we all now know and the maturation of professional sports and hearing about these two leagues finally in the end, the NBL and the BAA merging to form what we all now know as the NBA.

And when we come back, more of the story of the Waterloo Hawks, a little piece of American sports history here on Our American Story. I know everything there is to know about running a coffee shop, but for small business insurance, I need my State Farm agent. I know everything there is to know about running a coffee shop, but for small business insurance, I need my State Farm agent. They make sure my business stays piping hot and I stay cool and confident. See, they're small business owners too, so they know how to help you best. State Farm is in your corner and on it. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

Call your local State Farm agent for a quote today. Doing household chores can already be time consuming and tedious, and there's nothing more daunting than facing piles and piles of laundry that need to be done. I mean, that can be overwhelming for anyone. So if you want to get those larger laundry loads done right and get back to your life, try all free clear mega packs. All free clear mega packs are bigger packs with two times the cleaning ingredients compared to a regular pack so that you can tackle any laundry load without the worry. All free clear mega packs are also 100% free of perfumes and dyes and they're gentle on skin, which is great for any family's sensitive skin needs. My family, we definitely have sensitive skin. So the next time the whole family gets home from long vacation or you get the kids back from summer camp or whatever the situation is that's caused this big pile of dirty clothes, just know that all free clear mega packs, they have your back.

Purchase all free clear mega packs today and conquer any laundry load for all fabric types. And we continue here with our American stories and the story of the Waterloo Hawks, who when we last left off had joined the newly formed NBA. But before we get into the rest of the story, we have to know who the players on the Hawks were.

Here again is Tim Harwood. Arguably, the biggest star for the Hawks initially was a player named Harry Boykoff. At one point he actually held the scoring record for Madison Square Garden as a college player. A big guy, a lanky center and not particularly fleet of foot, but had a tremendous personality at the same time actually had played for a season in Toledo before he came to Waterloo. He chose the NBL because the team in Toledo offered to get him a job that would keep him busy. He was an accounting major at St. John's and so wanted to put his business skills to use.

Took an offer to go play in Toledo because they could promise him a job during the off-season that would supplement his basketball income. Another All-American player was from the University of Tennessee named Dick Meehan and he was the biggest scoring star for the Waterloo Hawks during their season in 1948-49 when they were in the National Basketball League. He was among the top scorers in the league that season. Meehan actually was, I believe in the Air Force. At that point it would have been the Army Air Corps during World War II. It was quite a bit different in that era. Today we think of athletes regardless of their sport training year-round and it's a full-time job to be an athlete in that era, the 1940s and into the 1950s. Players would arrive at the start of the season and they'd have a couple of weeks and that would be when they would be getting in shape and during the off-season there wasn't a tremendous amount of training.

There weren't a lot of rules regarding what players could do with their time. There were some players actually in the era and you don't see this at the NBA level today that I can think of in any sense where there were players that in some cases would play professional sports. They might be baseball players in the summertime, play basketball in the winter.

So when they would arrive in the fall they would train for a few weeks, they'd play a few pre-season games strung together and dive right into the schedule after that. It's interesting that a lot of players had off-season jobs. Typical average players' contracts as a professional basketball athlete in the 40s and 50s might have been in the range of $4,500 a year, $5,000.

Some were less, some were more. Although that was a reasonably good amount of money to be making for six months, for many players who were college educated, who had aspirations to be executives or to have careers that would be fitting for their college degrees, they were working some other job in the off-season on the assumption that they were only going to be professional basketball players for a few years and they'd have a whole lifetime ahead of them where they would need to earn an income. Waterloo's first NBA game was actually against the New York Knicks in October of 1949 and it was a tremendous way to start Waterloo's time in this new league after being what they considered a major league basketball city for one year. Now to begin the second season of major league professional basketball, the Hawks were hosting the New York Knicks. It was Waterloo in northeast Iowa, literally over 1,000 miles away, hosting a team that had come in on their own private rail car from New York and that was the epitome, it was the team from New York and that's all that mattered. And so Waterloo on opening night in 1949-50 hosted the Knicks and hung with them but New York took that game by the final of 68-60 just a few days later. The Hawks beat the Boston Celtics four days after hosting the New York Knicks and beat them pretty soundly, 80-66 and that was the first win for Waterloo against an opponent in the National Basketball Association. In a lot of ways that's the highlight of the Hawks story but teams like the Knicks and the Philadelphia Warriors, Boston Celtics weren't particularly excited about putting Waterloo Hawks on their marquee and so they found some creative ways to get around hosting home games against Waterloo.

They would play double headers where say the team in Philadelphia might play the team from Baltimore and the undercard game, the early game was New York versus Waterloo and that would be in Philadelphia and then Waterloo would be in New York for example and might play Baltimore or Philadelphia while the Knicks played a more prestigious opponent, at least a more prestige in terms of the city that they came from. So the Hawks did play in Madison Square Garden just before Christmas in 1949 but they didn't play the Knicks, they played the Philadelphia Warriors instead and the Knicks had a different opponent that night but they did end up seeing just about all of the major venues of the era that were hosting professional basketball and it just wasn't against the team that you might have expected on the opposite bench. In the 1948-49 season the Hawks were competitive, they were very successful early on and you could say that they ran out of gas. You could argue that they were either the sixth or the seventh best team in the nine team National Basketball League. During that season and into the start of the 1949-1950 NBA season, the Hawks were a slower, more methodical team but they weren't as athletic as some of the opponents that they faced and that was probably their downfall. They also dealt with some injuries particularly in the 1948-49 season that slowed them down when things appeared to otherwise be going along pretty well and the Hawks finished near the bottom of their division, fifth out of six teams in 1949-50. In the spring of 1950 there was a sentiment among the large cities, among the owners, among the media that a city like New York and a city like Waterloo or Sheboygan, Wisconsin shouldn't be in the same league. They weren't on par as far as some of the owners saw it.

And as far as many of the columnists for the major papers saw it. So the National Basketball Association worked through a couple of ideas that they thought might push some of the smaller city teams out of the NBA. They, for example, had to put up a $50,000 performance bond where if the team couldn't operate, ran out of money, couldn't pay its players, couldn't make its road trips, and failed to be a functioning entity within the NBA, that $50,000 bond would be forfeited.

It had to be backed by an insurance company or a bank. The Hawks and the Sheboygan Redskins were able to manage that because they had tremendous community support in both cases. And so they went to the league meetings in April of 1950 and ultimately the rest of the league voted to exclude Waterloo, Sheboygan, and Denver from the scheduling process. That was really the end for major league professional basketball in Waterloo.

I'd like to read something from the local paper, the Waterloo Courier. This was an article from just a few years after Waterloo had had a team in the NBA. Recapping the era, the article says, the fortunes of pro basketball fluctuated and even when crowds were good, there was one difficulty or another, sometimes a losing season, sometimes mounting expenses, and sometimes strife within a league itself. Waterloo pro basketball fans always have insisted that the city would be in the NBA today if the big city members had not forced out smaller cities. I think that captures the sentiment of Waterloo in the early 1950s and the disappointment that many people felt that they'd had something and it had been taken away from them. And in many ways, that's why the story of the Waterloo Hawks isn't really well known today, even in Waterloo itself, because at the time, the people who had made it happen, who had made basketball viable in Waterloo at the highest level of pro basketball at the time, I think really felt a disappointment.

It wasn't something that they wanted to brag about. We look at it today as being a major accomplishment for a city of 70 or 80,000 people to have a team playing against opponents from New York and Philadelphia and Boston. T-Mobile for Business knows companies want more than a one-size-fits-all approach to support. I want the world. So we provide 360 support customized to your business from Discovery through post-deployment. You'll get a dedicated account team and expertise from solutions engineers and industry advisors already right now.

I want it now. 360 support that's customized for your success. That's unconventional thinking from T-Mobile for Business. Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year, and UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible, Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th.

If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage. It can seem confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Visit UHCmedicarehealthplans.com to learn more. UnitedHealthcare, helping people live healthier lives. What up?

It's Dramos. You may know me from the recap on LATV. Now I've got my own podcast, Life as a Gringo, coming to you every Tuesday and Thursday. We'll be talking real and unapologetic about all things life, Latin culture and everything in between from someone who's never quite fit in. Listen to Life as a Gringo on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts. Brought to you by State Farm. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-15 11:26:49 / 2023-02-15 11:42:43 / 16

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime