My Grandfather and the Globetrotters

So I was going to post a follow up to the The Now Habit, which I mentioned in this post but upon waking up this morning, a stray memory wiggled itself into my thoughts.

You see, when I was younger, my grandfather would often take my brother and me to see the Harlem Globetrotters around this time of the year. These were days when the Spectrum still existed and was in use in Philadelphia


My grandfather was not the most expressive of men but he was generous and kind. His family was from the mountainous region of Italy called Calabria, where the people are said to be stubborn and hard-headed.

I clearly remember being fascinated with the tricks and showmanship of the Globetrotters. I had absolutely zero interest in basketball but to see those men work the ball and the hoops was truly a grand experience. I go so far as to say they were artists in their own way. I think I even had the 45 version of Sweet Georgia Brown (Yes, I’m old enough to have had a record player. A 45 was a small vinyl album that contained one song on each side).


My grandfather must have loved to see us so enthralled with the game. As I said, he wasn’t the most demonstrative of men but this was one of the ways he would show his love.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been able to appreciate his generation more. My grandfather was a World War II veteran, a hard-working man who strove to give his family a good, stable life. He grew up during the depression and that affected his outlook. Of course, we heard the stories about how in his youth, he would walk uphill in snow both ways to school without shoes, but I also remember he was a man who had to supervise the cleaning of the ovens after WW2, something he avoided talking about (refused to actually) but which I imagine haunted his dreams. He was a saver but not a penny pincher. My siblings and I were overwhelmed with gifts at Christmas from my grandparents and he was ever ready to splurge on us at a restaurant or if we really wanted something, like the Atari 2600 (talk about memories!). He and my grandmother also helped me through college so that, along with grants and scholarships, I was able to graduate debt-free.

But out of all things my grandfather did for us, I remember the Globetrotters games the most. Looking back on it, I realize that the reason for this is because it was an experience, a chance to see something fun and to spend time with my grandfather, that made it special. I think it’s a testimony to the strength of these memories that I don’t recall my grandfather on his birthday or the anniversary of his death but around late February and early March when I can hear the upbeat whistling of the Globetrotters’ theme song echoing in my head.

My grandfather passed in 1995 due to a medical mishap in the hospital after fighting colon cancer for several years. I’m sad to think that he wasn’t able to see so many things in our lives and meet his grandchildren. I can only hope that he would be proud of me.

ETA – In case you’re wondering, here is a link to Sweet Georgia Brown, the Globetrotter’s version –



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