What's that smell?

I live north of Chicago's Loop in the city's Uptown section, so I can usually complete my commute home in the wee hours of the morning in about 30 minutes or so.

Slogging home through the latest winter snowstorm early Tuesday morning, I was listening to David Stein on Sporting News radio. His show is not like a lot of sports-talk blather out there. He makes you think, in fact it's a prerequisite.

The topic: What is your favorite sports smell?

These days, my sense of smell is poor. But for one moment, it seemed like I could pick up that scent in my car.

Madison Square Garden in the 1970s.

Not the MSG of Isiah Thomas, sexual harrassment lawsuits, mediocre hockey and multi-thousand dollar seats. Not the MSG of teal and eggplant seats. Certainly not James Dolan's MSG.

This was "The Most Famous Arena In The World." This was where Clyde, The Pearl and Dollar Bill played. This was where Eddie Giacomin manned the crease, where Emile Francis was behind the bench.

The public address announcer didn't yell at you, didn't draw out the names ... back then, it was John F.X. Condon as the voice of God above - letting you know the foul was on Bob McAdoo (his first, the team's first) or that Steve Vickers received two minutes for hooking at 8:46.

There was no rap music. There was an organ - I think Eddie Layton was on the Hammond. There were sirens, plain and simple, when a goal was scored.

It was the Garden I would walk to with my father after parking on 6th Avenue. A stop at Blimpie's for dinner, and then off to see the game. It was the Garden before ads on the scorer's table. And on the ice. And the dasherboards. A scoreboard hanging over center ice was considered the cutting edge of technology.

It was the Garden with the rainbow of seats. Red all the way downstairs, orange, yellow, green and, finally, Blue Heaven, the home of the rowdiest and most passionate Rangers fans. The place where the smell of marijuana sometimes competed with the cigarettes.

But that's not the smell I remember most. It was the air in there. It smelled like the mimeograph room in my elementary school, a sweet, pungent, chemical scent ... just like the one in the Knicks and Rangers yearbooks I had to have each season.

As I'm sitting here writing about this, though, I find that I'm getting really wistful about this. Not just for the scent.

We had family friends who were Orthodox Jews, and had season tickets for the Knicks, Rangers, Mets and Jets. Due to their beliefs, we often would get their tickets for Friday nights, Saturdays and many Sundays as well.

Maybe I'm just nostalgic for those times with my Dad and Mom ... the tailor who knew nothing of basketball in her native France, but loved watching the Knicks back in the day.

1 comment:

The Girl in Black said...

You can take the boy out of NYC...

You big softie.