Playing crateball

Seen & Heard

January 19, 2003|By Rob Hiaasen

Not a soul around.

Just this thing. This thing hanging off a tree in a city alley behind rowhouse back yards. Six, seven feet off the ground, plywood is nailed to tree. This is the backboard. A crate, its bottom cut out, is nailed to the plywood. The crate is orange, but it is not an orange crate. Letters on the side say: "Turner Dairy Farms. Penn Hills, PA." This is the basket.

The no-name alley is off Guilford Avenue near Chase Street. Nearby Interstate 83 is loud today. The crate job is clean; the makeshift basket lines up perfectly on its makeshift backboard. Bank shots are definitely doable. The hole in the crate, though, is too small for a regular basketball. Maybe young kids shoot hoops here, aiming toy basketballs at the orange crate.

There's something else about the thing that hangs off the tree. Letters on the crate say: "WARNING: USE BY OTHER THAN REGISTERED OWNER PUNISHABLE BY LAW."

The ball players have been warned.

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