Hoop Dreams on Hold
In the 1940s, Marian Johnson wondered why, as a girl, she couldn’t play basketball in school. Later, as a physical education teacher, she learned that in the early 1900s, interscholastic girls’ basketball was widespread throughout her home state of Minnesota and the nation.
So why did it disappear?
Johnson answers this question in "Daughters of the Game," co-authored with Dorothy McIntyre. “Basketball was America ’s first widely played women’s team sport,” she says.
“Within a few years of its invention in 1891, school and professional women’s teams thrived. The decline began after the National Amateur Athletic Federation Women’s Division was started in 1923 to study women and sports.”
The Women’s Division was sharply critical, reflecting the prejudice that women were too weak for intense exercise and that sports would deter them from marrying and starting families.
The Women’s Division said women’s athletics should be confined to non-competitive, less stressful exercise. “Women’s basketball began to disappear,” says Johnson. “By 1942 it was gone, and didn’t return on a large scale until Title IX, mandating equality in school sports, passed in 1972.”
"Daughters" tells a national story, but focuses on Minnesota with team pictures and interviews with hundreds of players, many now in their 90s. “It’s history,” says Johnson, “but we also teach young women not to be complacent. There are still people who think women’s athletics is unimportant.”
Visit http://www.daughtersofthegame.com/ for more.
Painting the Simpler Life
Twenty years ago, high school physics teacher John Richards Jr. took up oil painting as a hobby. He soon fell under the spell of the Hudson River School, a group of 19th-century American landscape painters.
“I saw a painting by Frederic Church, and I knew that’s what I wanted to paint,” says Richards. Church and the other Hudson River School artists—like their literary contemporaries Emerson and Thoreau—treated nature almost worshipfully. Landscape paintings from this period were marked by painstaking detail, sensuous use of color, and majestic lighting.
“Their reverence for the simplicity of nature is very near to my heart,” says Richards. “I grew up in a small town, played in meadows with my dog, and walked in the woods. I long for that simpler time and I try to recapture it through my painting.”
Many of Richards’ paintings depict pastoral settings from northwestern Massachusetts, but he is equally fond of still-life subjects—including his father’s old baseball glove.
Since retiring from teaching in 2004, Richards has devoted himself almost full-time to art, and has met with great success since he began exhibiting in 2005. “It’s been very encouraging,” says Richards.
“I’ve had several exhibits as well as individual pieces accepted into juried shows, and I sold around 20 paintings. Mind you, I’m still a local guy. I’m delighted when anyone appreciates my work. I hope they feel a bit of the simpler life.”
For a sampling of paintings by John Richards Jr., visit his Web site.