Uncle Lee reminisces about early basketball

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March 26, 2012

There was a time, the 1930s in this country, when cricket was the most popular sport. On Sundays, church services were the priority. Then, it was cricket. That was the order in the capital.
Spectators flocked to the various cricket grounds to watch the players, bedecked in all white, competing on teams called St. Albans, St. Bernard's, The Westerns, St. George's, the Police and St. Agnes. At the Priory Grounds, on the court previously used for tennis, Brother Christopher Foster had put in place a basketball program. Although not as popular as cricket, basketball definitely had a strong niche.
Leroy 'Uncle Lee' Archer remembers the era quite well. Recently, despite being 88 years advanced in this life, he reminisced and surprisingly (to me), came up with a lot of details (many of the names of players) about the teams that played at the priory in that pioneering basketball period. Archer informed that the teams included players from all walks of life, across social boundaries. They attracted accordingly, a varied audience, inclusive of top political, church, judicial, cultural and law fraternity figures such as the noted A.F. Adderley, Esq.
There was the team called the Dragons. Archer recalls this team included Gerald Isaacs, Kendal Isaacs, Stanley Archer, Toonka Knowles and Tommie Knowles. With Uncle Lee on the Rangers were Earnest Archer, Clifford Styles, Joseph Boodle, Franklyn Boodle, Raleigh Carroll and Robert Elliott.
There were also:
The Hornets (Roderick Simms, Zeke Poitier, Lorenzo Saunders, and Stanley Blair); the Spit Fires (Paul Crawley, Noel Gibson and James Whitfield); the Lions
(Buster Christie and Buster Bosfield); the Tigers (Dean William Granger, Eddie Granger and Matthew Sawyer); the Bulldogs (Richard Barrett, Reginald Saunders and Bill Martin); the Warriors (Willis Ferguson) and the Royals.
It was a very special period.
"That was a time of social order. We all understood how we were supposed to act, to get along, and the exceptions were quickly brought in line," Archer informed. "I remember one situation very well that tells a lot about the era. We were there, playing basketball and everybody enjoying the action when somebody loudly used profanity. Well, there was Fr. Ambrose and he was a no-nonsense man even though he was a priest. He was very different. Man, he went into the stands and put a beating on that fellow. You never saw anything like it, and, you know the fellow could not come back... because no one would allow him to disturb what we had. We lived by a certain standard back then. We respected each other no matter whether we disagreed or not. The ones who didn't know how to respect their fellow men were not allowed to associate with us. That's how it was," said Archer.
Indeed he speaks of a wonderful time in our Bahamas. It is good that he is still around to talk knowingly and precisely about what I call the 'Golden Era of The Bahamas'. It was a time of radiance in our Bahamaland. Continued best wishes Uncle Lee!
To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at fredericksturrup@gmail.com.

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News date : 03/26/2012    Category : Sports, Nassau Guardian Stories

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