CHEROKEE—It’s different. It is not exactly what I imagined, but then, what is? I probably expected that this gym would transport me back to the mid-1940s when Oshkosh and Moline, and Syracuse and Waterloo called themselves professional towns. My speculation is their arenas were dark and foreboding but with a mystique that made them grand—becoming grandeur with age.The gymnasium in our narrative—constructed circa 1949 at Cherokee High—is small, but it’s no dungeon, although that is a term opponents like to use on the bus ride home. We are so used to palaces with goose-bump-non-commercial names like Madison Square Garden, the Forum, Cameron Indoor Stadium, and Rupp Arena that it’s magical to arrive in Cherokee—right before we see the signs of the Six-Man state championships—and get a soothing portrayal of the past.“We were on a dirt court before this was built,” said Charles Perry. “This is an improvement over that.” Perspective is all class. Perry graduated from Cherokee in 1954 and a bit later was the principal for 17 years. Here’s the deal: you notice pretty quickly there’s “no” out of bounds. It’s like a racquet-ball court. Okay, not quite, but close. There’s very little space on the ends of the floor. A dotted-line is necessary on one end, so the player throwing the ball in has room to wind up, as long as it’s brief. No dotted-line, and he or she would be outdoors.“Our trustees (in the late 1940s) didn’t know what a gym looked like,” Perry informed me, “and they built what they could afford.” We can all learn from that. An intriguing, if bothersome at times, aspect of the gym are the posts. The seating is balcony-style on both sides, and posts obstruct some views, but I got used to that. Also, this is what serves as a reminder of the ancient (and glorious) baseball parks in Brooklyn, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati—all with the same last name: Ebbets, Forbes, and Crosley Field. Municipal Stadium, seemingly ancient forever, has vanished from Cleveland, but still-standing is Wrigley Field for the Cubs, who barely stand each summer. Listen, I’ve read there were bad views in the old Boston Garden and dead spots on the floor. That’s where the Celtics won all those championships!You’re told not to eat in high school gyms? No food or drink allowed? No such demand in Cherokee. The concession stand is on the visitors’ side, right in the thick of the seats, and what’s served? Chicken and dumplings and beef stew, and they’re both thick. You can also eat popcorn if you don’t prefer the modern-day offerings. An obvious reaction is: this is the ultimate in home-court advantage. I was there to see the Cherokee girls play a private school from Brownwood. The visitors lost 87-2; I doubt the guests would have won on that aforementioned dirt court or the Ferrell Center. The wins and losses don’t concern me as much as having this icon still with us; it’s a window to a bygone era. The past isn’t simply not forgotten, it continues to race up and down a hardwood floor, surrounded by living ghosts of another age.See additional photos on page 14.