The Herald Bulletin

Overnight Update

Local Columns

November 20, 2011

Scott Underwood: Event brings Wigwam back to life

ANDERSON, Ind. — Scott and Troy Lewis joked. Ron Hecklinski railed. Kojak Fuller shined. Gene and Johnny Wilson reminisced. And Norm Held cried.

Wednesday night in the Chief Anderson Room at the Anderson Public Library, the former Anderson High School basketball greats gathered to speak about the Wigwam and to autograph copies of The Herald Bulletin’s new coffee table book, “The Wigwam: 50 Years of Memories.”

About 150 Indians fans began lining up outside the doors of the conference room an hour before the 6:30 p.m. event to try to get one of the 14 remaining copies of the book. The fans were placated by news that The Herald Bulletin had committed to a second press run and that all who signed a waiting list would receive copies of the book before Christmas.

As the Lewises, Wilsons, Held and Hecklinski entered the room, the adoring crowd applauded. Fuller, the 1993 Mr. Basketball, arrived late. He had been at the hospital with one of his children, who was being tested for viral meningitis (the test later proved negative).

Fuller told the crowd of how the love he had felt from them as a high-schooler sustained him through dark times. He is now a committed community servant – and a captivating public speaker, the magnetism he exuded on the court showing through at the microphone.

Troy Lewis, the 1983 Mr. Basketball, and older brother Scott, a standout AHS player as well, addressed the crowd with sincerity and humor. Scott noted that when he accompanied Troy into the Chief Anderson Room, the crowd had cheered for his younger brother, then tried to figure out the identity of the other guy with him. Troy stepped to the microphone and said, “I hated playing in the Wigwam,” then let a spate of nervous laughter subside before explaining that he truly loved the place.

Johnny Wilson, Mr. Basketball in 1946 and the foundation of Anderson’s state championship that year, and brother Gene, who went on to play at Kansas State after starring for the Indians, reminisced about playing in the original Wigwam, which burned to the ground in 1958. As always, the Wilson brothers’ presence graced the event with integrity and class.

In his gravelly voice, Hecklinski, the recently retired Indians head coach, criticized the school board’s decision to close the Wigwam at the end of last school year. He looked forward to a day when it would be open again for basketball.

Held, who coached the Indians to four state championship games, was the earliest special guest to arrive at Wednesday’s event. He mingled easily with the fans, sharing common memories. Later, his speech was interrupted when he choked back tears.

It can bring both joy and pain to remember something wonderful that can never be fully recaptured. But we at The Herald Bulletin hope that our book about the Wigwam brings to life the stories of the people who made the historic 9,000-seat gym something truly special.

Editor Scott Underwood’s column appears Mondays. Contact him at scott.underwood@heraldbulletin.com or 640-4845.

1
Text Only
Local Columns
  • Maureen Hayden Maureen Hayden: Helping those with a criminal record

    In 2009, when then-candidate Matt Ubelhor was knocking on doors in the rural southern Indiana district he now represents in the General Assembly, he kept hearing the same story from countless constituents: They’d lost their jobs in a bad economy and couldn’t get another one because they couldn’t past a background check that revealed some long-ago arrest or conviction.

    April 14, 2013 1 Photo

  • Colip, Angie.jpg Angie Colip: Old, used bowling balls cause dilemma

    I have a question of the week. What becomes of bowling balls once they are no longer being used by their owner? I have a house that is full of unused bowling balls. The front closet and even my living room have become overrun with them.

    January 31, 2013 1 Photo

  • De la Bastide, Ken.jpg Ken de la Bastide: Young guns come up short

    With 10 laps remaining at the ARCA/CRA Speedfest at Watermelon Capital Speedway it appeared that three drivers under the age of 19 were going to take the top three positions.
    Chase Elliott was leading chased by Erik Jones and John Hunter Nemechek, but through a number of cautions over the final circuits none of the young guns would record a podium finish.

    January 29, 2013 1 Photo

  • What's Where: Nov. 20

    Local meetings and activities are scheduled:

    November 20, 2012

  • images_sizedimage_001185455 Verna Davis: Avoid a diet; feed on the Word

    OK, people. I concede that I am “middle-aged,” even though the thought terrifies me.

    August 24, 2012 1 Photo

  • Maureen Hayden Maureen Hayden column: Updating voter registry will take time, money

    Earlier this year, I wrote a series of columns bemoaning the low voter turnout in the May primary and asked why only 20 percent of Indiana’s 4.4 million registered voters bothered to go to the polls.

    July 22, 2012 1 Photo

  • wilkerson, jesse Jesse Wilkerson column: There is a solution to your problem

    I ran across this exercise several years ago. If you ever have been by my office at the Mounds Mall you will see the same nine dots you see below on my door as a constant reminder of this exercise.

    July 22, 2012 2 Photos

  • Howey NEW.jpg Brian Howey: Daniels at Purdue raises questions over potential conflicts

    At the advent of the Mitch Daniels governorship, a close ally of his told me that the new governor always had a long-range plan.

    July 7, 2012 1 Photo

  • Dulaney c.jpg Emmett Dulaney: Are risk and vesting correlated?

    In business, as in life, the safest thing to do is often nothing. If you don’t take a chance, you can usually avoid the dangers that could befall those who do venture outside the norm and propose new businesses, new products or otherwise embrace risk in the pursuit of reward.

    July 2, 2012 1 Photo

  • Dulaney c.jpg Emmett Dulaney: Price is the most flexible variable

    A funny thing happened on the way to purchasing a book from Amazon.com — the price changed. Forty-two times within a 30-day period.

    June 11, 2012 1 Photo

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin