If you build it …
True story: My brother and I built a full scale Wiffleball field in our parent’s back yard when we were youngsters. My parents left to run an errand one day, and seizing on a window of opportunity, my brother and I began using a rototiller to dig up the lawn to make the dirt infield we envisioned. It turned out beautifully, but my parents were “less than pleased”. Eventually they came around and allowed us to finish our field of dreams. We built a backstop, on-deck circle, scoreboard, advertisements on the home run fence even!
You only get to be a kid once and we took full advantage as we played endless games, complete with very specific and innovative rules. Even had the occasional bench clearing brawl, which brought the head umpire (my mom) out to restore order.
So last Sunday when I was walking around Oak Park looking for anyone crazy enough to be out in the arctic weather to photograph, I heard the sounds of a full-fledged ice hockey game. I was on a normal, tree-lined street so it wasn’t something you would expect to hear. That’s when I peaked over a wooden fence and got a glimpse at one of the coolest things I’ve seen in awhile. A family had built an ice rink with two nets and side boards in their back yard. I didn’t flinch. I rang the doorbell, introduced myself and next thing I knew, I was watching a true blue back yard hockey game.
I loved it. A next door neighbor came out and tossed an errant puck back over the fence. The boys playing were having a blast, just like my brother and other neighborhood pals did years ago. Thanks to the Blankemeier family for welcoming me. Best game in town.