The third in a virtual glossary of terms either specific to the 1980s or to our staff’s own upbringing in said decade. This time around we focus on a term that isn’t specific to the culture of the Eightiesologist’s upbringing.
- 1. Circular figures or objects
- 2. The game of basketball, the act of shooting baskets, or simply loitering around a basketball court with only minor intent to play the sport and major intent to be social
The simple term of “shooting hoops” or “going to shoot hoops” invokes the basic act of playing the sport of basketball or practicing the art of shooting the basketball into the net, or hoop. However, this came to take on a more significant meaning in my world towards the end of the ‘80s and early ‘90s.
It’s important to note that playing basketball and shooting hoops were not technically the same thing. I played basketball in high school for four years. This entailed attending practices everyday except Sunday, grueling practices that included a wind spring so psychotic that they were called “suicides.” The practices were in preparation for games which took us all over Bergen County and sometimes into dreaded Hudson County. Junior year, as my classmates took over the starting positions on the Varsity team, the Wood-Ridge Blue Devils went into an awful losing spell that lasted until our Senior year. This was basketball for us. Miserable losses and ridiculous practices. The best part of a basketball game was going to Amore afterwards for cheese steak sandwiches and hanging out with our friends.
Shooting hoops was an altogether different experience. Stripped of the stigma of a losing team or of being a benchwarmer, this was a freelance experience, a freeform experience. While I played basketball with my high school classmates, I shot hoops with my friends from town who went to various different Catholic high schools. We all played basketball for our different HS teams but came together on common ground during in-season off-days and pretty much every other time imaginable to shoot hoops at the Assumption. For many of us, it was a walk across the street or a few blocks away. On a school day, it was the first thing you did upon your return home. On the weekend, it was pretty much what we did from late morning until it was too dark to play anymore. Sometimes even that couldn’t stop us as we let our eyes adjust and the nearby street lamps to give us just enough vision to shoot hoops.
What is Hoops? It’s not complicated. The weather had to be disastrous to prevent us from shooting hoops. With that cooperation, we individually made our ways to the Assumption parking lot. Sometimes a phone call or a ringed doorbell induced a scheduled arrival but more times than not, it was simply an instinctual gathering. I had the advantage of being able to see the court and hear a bouncing basketball from my house which gave me an edge to be timely and ever-present. Lace up your high-tops, put on sweats or shorts, grab a ball and head over.
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The second in a virtual glossary of terms either specific to the 1980s or to our staff’s own upbringing in said decade. In deference to our readers who may not understand certain lingo or references yet are maintained for the sanctity of our staff’s memories.
- 1. Slang for a rural, white person of lower-economic status.
- 2. A field in Moonachie, NJ which hosted soccer and football games for youth organizations.
Soccer team photo at Redneck. Can you spot the Eightiesologist?
When you’re younger, you tend to boil down places, people and events down to one word that becomes so synonymous with that entity that even as you grow older, your burgeoning intelligence and stronger grasp on grammar disallows you of repairing such slang or nicknames.
Pomponio Field is a large field in Moonachie, NJ right, located on Redneck Avenue which splits between the field and Teterboro Airport. The field is carved between residential Moonachie and the remnants of the areas of indigenous marshlands. For baseball and softball, the fields were used mostly for older youth leagues as well as beer leagues. However, for football and soccer, the large expanse of grass was home to Pop Warner football and Youth Soccer, the latter which I took part in.
“Down to Redneck” is how those of us in Wood-Ridge would describe heading to the soccer field. After all, the field was certainly below us since you had to drive down Moonachie Avenue to get there and head from our cliffside, hilly town to one that seemed to emerge from the swamps. The field isn’t actually called “Redneck” but that’s how we designated it, with very little notice of the fact that the term was slang for a poor person from the country.
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The first in a virtual glossary of terms either specific to the 1980s or to our staff’s own upbringing in said decade. In deference to our readers who may not understand certain lingo or references yet are maintained for the sanctity of our staff’s memories.
- 1. having completed the course of her earthly life, the Virgin Mary was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.
- 2. The church schoolyard from which our glorious chief Eightiesologist lived across the street from, location of playing army, playing basketball, youth dances and manhunt.
An old friend of mine Victor once joked about my propensity for referring to the local playground as “The Assumption.” As if I was literally attending the assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven. No, in fact I was only just going over there to shoot hoops!
The Assumption Church is the main Catholic church of my old hometown Wood-Ridge, NJ. The one-block complex included the church, the rectory, convent, and K-8 school. The parking lot for the church included a pair of basketball nets and a great enclosed space for other sporting events like stickball and two-hand touch football. In the winter, the plows pushed the snow up against the fences allowing me and my friends to recreate Hoth from The Empire Strikes Back. With all of the urban nooks and crannies throughout the complex, it allowed us the ability to generate complex, faux military strategies with our toy guns and camouflage outfits. And easily book it after yelling “Bingo!” into the open windows of the Bingo hall. In later years, it really became the ultimate of ironies: a breeding ground for adolescent flirting with girls. All under the watchful eye of the Blessed Virgin!
I lived right across the street from the Assumption though I didn’t attend the school or the parish. It is an absolutely essential setting of my youth. And I refuse to call it anything else. It’s where I told my parents I would be. It’s where I told my friends to meet me. And though I always chuckle at the amusing inaccuracy of my phrasing, it’s always going to be “The Assumption” to me.
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