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135 Glory Chuck Taylor, then in his sixty-eighth year, received many telegrams, congratulatory letters, and goodwill calls when he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1969. The letters and cards and telegrams were piled high on a circular table in the breakfast nook inside his Port Charlotte, Florida home. He could puff on the sweet-smelling tobacco in his briar pipe—he smoked that pipe all the time in his later years—or he might dip a small spoon into his favorite lemon ice cream and savor the fruits of his labors that had made his name famous all over the land. One letter stood out. Chuck must have leaned forward on his elbows when he saw the postmark—it was from Terre Haute, Indiana—and a satised smile likely swept over his Glory 9. 09Chuck.indd 11/18/05, 3:02 PM 135 136 face as he unfolded the letter and read its contents. All the other correspondence from coaches and fans and businessmen were predictable, even “canned” accolades, but this piece of mail that he held rmly between his ngers was different.This was a tunnel back to his early career, a reminder to Chuck that he was so much more than a salesman or even an icon or just another retiree set out to pasture on a Florida golf course. “My Dear Taylor,” the letter writer began, then he noted the last time the two had seen each other. It was at a men’s club in Indianapolis, possibly the toney Columbia Club on Monument Circle in the heart of the city, and he and Taylor had played “twenty-one.” The letter writer, J. D. Clements of Terre Haute, chortled that Taylor had lost a small wager on the game. Then Clements got to the point. “Duke Lovell asks me to ask you if you recall having brought a team here to play Jensen Bros. at the old Pennsy. Gym. He played on that team.”1 Chuck remembered the game, the city, the gym, the times, the name; he could practically feel the vigor of youth in his arms and legs briskly take hold of him again. He remembered Duke Lovell, all right. Lovell, star shooter for the Jensen Brothers basketball squad, a superior semi-pro team of the era based in Terre Haute, had dealt Chuck Taylor and his traveling Converse All-Stars cage team one of its rare defeats during an otherwise magical season in 1926–27. Chuck had been nominated for the Hall of Fame by longtime friend and native Hoosier Charles “Stretch” Murphy, who himself was a Hall of Fame member and former teammate of John Wooden at Purdue University. In his later years Murphy was executive director of the Boys’ Clubs of Tampa, not far from Port Charlotte. Murphy rst nominated Chuck in a letter to Hall of Fame executive director Lee Williams in June 1968.“I feel, of course that [Taylor] is worthy of this top 09Chuck.indd 11/18/05, 3:02 PM 136 137 Glory honor in basketball, or I would not be offering his name; that his life’s work devoted solely to the promotion of basketball, giving thousands of clinics to hundreds of thousands of players and fans, starting the Converse Basketball Year Book, now in its 46th edition (copy enclosed), his poll (oldest in the country ) and selection of All-American Teams, his staff, now made up of 11 men who he has trained, and who now give clinics throughout the country as he did for many, many years on his own and, last but not least, his developing what is considered (and has been since I can remember) the best basketball shoe in the world—to me this should more than qualify him for admission to the Hall of Fame as a Contributor.”2 Chuck was in the shower when the phone call from Spring- eld reached Port Charlotte in 1969. Long-distance calls still were treated as urgent matters in those days. According to Gloria Schroeder, longtime nurse for Taylor’s widow in her later years, the story was often told of how Chuck was smoking his pipe in the shower, with the water running down his neck and body, when Lucy came to tell him the news. He just walked out dripping wet and naked to the phone and took the call. Chuck was in.Though surviving great coaches such as Ray Meyer, Red Auerbach, and...


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