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The Walk Down Main Street

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

From The Walk Down Main Street by Ruth Moore



Everyone had seen last night’s game, either on the TV or at the capital, driving a hundred miles there and back. Their own Red Hawks had beaten Boone Academy, won the trophy, got the State Championship.The best damn team in the whole damn state.


The town, dreaming along in monotony, year after year, was on the map at last—its name in headlines all over the state; pictures of the ball team not only in sports sections but on front pages. Familiar faces, sons and neighbors’ sons, names they knew. Jerry (Dead-Eye) Mooney. Bill Parker. Jacky Wallace. Dick Wickham. Joel Troy. And now everywhere, raves and photographs of Carlisle (Shirttail) McIntosh, he who had all at once started to ramble, seventeen baskets, and that sweet shot that swished through in the last seconds to win the game.


It was no individual triumph, last night, at the Capitol Auditorium; it was a town triumph. All winter long the town had watched its team, packing the gym at home games, driving miles through snow storms when the games were out of town; excitement growing to frenzy as the toll of victories mounted. Last night the lid had blown off; and when, at the game’s end, the television cameras had begun to sweep across the packed rows of clapping, screaming townspeople, they, too, had felt the brief, sweet breath of fame. They, too, had been on TV.


And those few who had stayed at home because of illness, or some other irrevocable reason, had seen on the screen of the magic box, where hitherto had appeared only the wild sunbursts of the stars, Cheyenne and Sugarfoot and Lucy, and the wrestlers and the prizefighters, the faces of their own neighbors; and this glamorous time was not yet over. When the team went to Boston, to play—to win—in the All-New England Tournament, the whole thing would happen again.


Only, this time, even bigger headlines, more pictures; the town’s name truly known. Mooney and McIntosh, Parker and Wickham, Wallace and Troy, bywords all over New England.


And what could be better for a tourist town, Jed Wallace was think-ing, than thousands of dollars’ worth of free publicity? Of course he was proud of his boy; he was some old proud of Jack, and the main thing was the game, the fun, the excitement. Why, as Jed said to Win Parker out of the corner of his mouth, it brought people out into the streets who hadn’t seen the light of day for years.


But the publicity was there, all right; no banker worth his salt was going to turn up his nose at that. Why, if the team won the All-New England, people would drive out of their way by the hundred, next summer, just to see this town. It was fantastic, the interest there was in ball; not just around here, but all over the country. Nationwide. Mil-lions of people going to games, watching them on TV. A good healthy thing. It got people to town, made them spend money, bet some, on the ballgames—why, in the old days, come the end of February, the old folks used to die; now they picked up stick and went, by gorry, to the basketball tournament, bet a packet and won themselves a bundle.


 

Ruth Moore (1903–1989)

This excerpt appears within Part One of Ruth Moore's The Walk Down Main Street. Originally published in 1960, The Walk Down Main Street explores what happens when a river town in Maine goes mad over its high school basketball team. Ruth Moore covers basketball thrills, coming of age, and the reality of small town inhabitants along with her usual razor-sharp wit and honest depictions of daily life.


Born and raised in the Maine fishing village of Gotts Island, Ruth Moore (1903–1989) emerged as one of the most important Maine authors of the twentieth century, best known for her authentic portrayals of Maine people and her evocative descriptions of the state.



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