Guys can have fun shooting pool, throwing darts, playing golf, or bowling, but what about getting together and discovering something just a bit out of the norm?
Old gyms and basketball kings
Some people say the golden age of high school basketball was in the 1950s, and for those who remember those great teams from the mountains of eastern Kentucky, what fun it is to visit some of the tiny communities in the heart of coal country and see a handful of the gyms that have survived.
“Several of us took a couple of days and went up to see where some of these old great teams played,” says Kenny Tabb, Hardin County court clerk in Elizabethtown. “We had heard for years about the teams from Carr Creek and Wayland and we just wanted to see where they played.”
“There are always people showing up and wanting to see where King Kelly Coleman played,” says Jerry Fultz, director of the Wayland Historical Society, talking about the former Wayland player who still holds many of the state high school basketball scoring records. “They tell me they are going over the mountain to the Carr Creek gym.”
Charlie Thurman, who lives in Sonora, calls himself a basketball junkie, and, along with Ron Bevars of Vine Grove and Doug Gibson from Elizabethtown, joined Tabb in their old gym quest.
“Old gymnasiums are a thing of the past,” Thurman points out. “They’re a lot like covered bridges. We used to have a bunch. Where did they all go? We tore them down.”
Some refer to it as old guys wanting to see old gyms. But that’s okay with these guys, especially Bevars, a basketball coach at North Hardin High School.
“These gyms are our heritage,” he says. “They need to be preserved so the next generations can see how basketball has evolved. They are museums.”
Gibson adds, “We have fun talking basketball, finding good food to eat, and planning where to go next.”
For Wade Hembree, an insurance agent from Shelbyville, a trip to Hart County with several guy pals has become an annual fall ritual.
“We’ve been getting together now for 23 years at a little farm near the community of Linwood in Hart County,” says Hembree. “There are six of us: Tony Carriss, Eddie Kingsolver, Mitch McClain, Rodney Morris, and Denny Bailey.
“We started out in sleeping bags and tents,” Hembree says, “but as backs, hips, and knees got stiffer with age, we’ve moved on to campers and travel trailers.”
Group member Denny Bailey’s family farm has provided space over the years for hunting, fishing, gun shooting, golfing, caving, horseshoes, and an occasional poker game.
A freshwater spring and waterfall provide water needs and a shower.
“The water is freezing cold, about 50 degrees,” Hembree points out. “We used to see who could keep his head under the waterfall the longest. Thirty seconds is a good time, but Denny’s brother, Dale, holds the record at 1 minute and 20 seconds. He’s been a little slow ever since.”
Hittin’ the highway on a Harley
Nothing says guy getaway more than Harleys, and for four Bowling Green businessmen, all they need is a little good weather and some good old Kentucky back roads.
Kentucky is biker-friendly and there’s a wide range of biker types. Many bikers today are professional, hardworking family men enjoying the camaraderie of riding together, and just having fun.
David Wiseman, Sam Hall, Tommy Smith, and Mike Manship have been riding together for several years, and although some of their treks have taken them across the United States and into Canada, most of their riding is done in Kentucky.
“It’s all about getting in some seat time with the wind blowing in your face, and then when we stop to eat or spend the night, just talking with good friends about where we’ve been and what we’ve seen,” says Wiseman.
Hall, a rider for some 20 years, says guys getting together to ride motorcycles is much like a golf trip.
“We hang out together with no real schedule, and at the end of the day we enjoy a good meal with some of our best friends,” Hall says.
“The purpose of picking a destination to ride to is so you’ll know when to turn around and come home,” laughs Hall.
Bill Koch, a professional pilot from Louisville, at least three times a year joins some of his buddies to hunt in Green County.
In April it’s a turkey camp, September a dove camp, and November a deer camp, Koch explains. “Our usual number is seven or eight guys per camp.”
Randy Addison, a fellow pilot from Louisville, owns the Green County farm and cabin where all of the activities originate.
Their getaways usually last from two to five days, with deer camp lasting the longest. A somewhat upscale cabin provides the shelter as well as a venue for some bragging-rights cooking.
“Food is big with us,” Koch says. “We plan out everything.”
Koch says the group is encouraged to bring their sons now, in an obvious effort to pass along the fellowship and lifelong experiences of their dads.
Louis Chelton, a physician from Atlanta who makes most of the camps each year, points out that the most rewarding thing for him is the respect and brotherhood exhibited.
So guys, now that you have your thinking cap on, how about horse racing, baseball, car racing, fishing, skiing, and hiking.
KEYWORD EXCLUSIVE: MORE GUY GETAWAYS
For a list of sports spots any guy will like, and more about a possible “Old Gym Tour” in the state as well as contacts for touring the Wayland Gym, go to guy getaways.