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Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan • Page 72

Location:
Detroit, Michigan
Issue Date:
Page:
72
Extracted Article Text (OCR)

spszft DETROIT FREE PRESSTHURSDAY, April 2a 1967 5A Lane urges youths to find PAL PAL participant for about three years, learned of the program in the way that most kids do: word of mouth. "My brothers use to come here when they were young," he said, "and a police officer helped me learn to play. They helped me get on the (Murray- Wright) high school team and every By STEVE CROWE Free Press Special Writer Dick (Night Train) Lane's 12-year reign over Detroit's Police Athletic League and his devotion to kids throughout his adult life were foregone conclusions "almost from childbirth" in Austin, he says. "I was a kid who was thrown away, and a foster mother raised me. I've always had that love for youth, and for the organizations that aided youth in the cities I played in." Lane, 59, a former Detroit Lions defensive back and a member of the r' 1 1 11 fro ruuiuau nun i of Fame, never thing.

Now I've got someplace to go rather than hang out in the streets. PAL has given me some place to go." Hamza, the youngest of seven children, and Ishmael both plan to become police officers. Ishmael is a PAL old-timer, having joined the program when he was seven. "Kids get bored just hanging around the house," he said. "My friends who are not involved in something positive like PAL are out there smoking, doing drugs.

You know how it is on the west side. My uncle, who's a police officer, got me into PAL. Sometimes they come around to neighborhood churches and get you, and ask you to ask your friends to come. They get you on teams, and if you can't play basketball, you can play baseball, or volleyball. They find something for you to do." CUUiu siojr awojr from the playground.

He signed his first pro contract with the Los Angeles Rams in 1952, but he would inevitably be drawn back. "The first year I was there, hard I Dick Lane ly anybody knew he program has few more vo I ciferous advocates than Ish mael, who said he would me," he said. "But when I made it in the professional ranks, and then went back to the playgrounds, I'd have gangs of kids sitting around waiting for me." That's where it began, but hardly where it ended. After failing to show at a party deemed mandatory by the Rams, Lane was traded to the Chicago Bears in 1953, and offered to work for Mayor Richard Daley's youth program. Lane supervised a youth center attended by 6,000 kids in Chicago, and would bring celebrities in such as Sammy Davis Jr.

to entertain and talk of life beyond the streets. In 1960, Lane was sent by the Bears to Detroit, and initially was told that the city already had a program to guide 4 JOHN COLLIERDelrolt Free Press Johnie Smith. 1 9, goes up for a hook shot during practice with Detroit PAL members (top to bottom) Philip Millet. Hamza Elshabazz and Joe Skaisgir at the Police Gym. About 15,000 youths participated in PAL activities last year.

welcome the opportunity to preach PAL's gospel to Mayor Young. "I'd show him the kids at a young age in high school carrying guns and smoking and all because they don't have anyone like a big brother to push them," he said. "I'd tell him to go to the neighborhoods near the Jeffries Freeway or something and have him look at those kids. Get them to play basketball, or whatever, and that will push a lot of them toward an education. I know that from a few friends of mine who didn't make it." More testimony, this time from Woodrow Brand, 17, also a student at Murray-Wright, the site of last week's latest in a well-publicized string of youth shootings: "Yeah, I'd be hanging out if it weren't for PAL," he said.

"And some kids don't even know these places are open. Maybe people should do a better job of getting the word out." IT fl if, I PAL ane is doing his best to get the word out, to push for the expansion of PAL to the level DETROIT POLICE ATHLETIC LEAGUE zc its youth. "So I left it alone," he said. But a few years later, then-Mayor Jerry Cavanaugh asked him to head the Youth Opportunity Program, which he did until the early '70s, when he left for Southern University in Baton Rouge, to pursue a marketiong degree. Then it was back to California, where Lane went to work as one of Redd Foxx' managers.

He arranged trips, was in charge of security and helped deflect the comedian's hangers-on. "Catch him in an off-moment and he'd sign anything," Lane said of Foxx. Then, in 1975, as Lane was "really getting started in California," friends of Mayor Coleman Young called trying to persuade Lane to give up the tinsel for the director's job at PAL, a youth organization that had struggled under former Pistons coach Earl Lloyd. "The mayor and I had been friends even before that when he was in the state senate," Lane said. "So he told me, 'Well, if you want the job, you've got to get back here by I said, 'Man, I can't do that.

Young knew which strings to pull, and even though Lane said he wasn't really interested, he came back. "I've just always loved Detroit," Lane said. "To look back over it, I really haven't gained much status from a financial standpoint. But when you're an adopted kid, wherever you hang your hat is home." About seven years ago, PAL burgeoned to 16 centers and 30 police officers to help supervise activities. And even though the number of activities is at an all-time high and an estimated 15,000 kids participated last year, the number of centers has shrunk to eight and officers to 17.

"And that's one of the things that bothers me right now," Lane said. "It doesn't look like from a political standpoint people in city government understand the importance or need involved here." Not as well as PAL's Immediate beneficiaries, Detroit's kids. On most days, it is not unusual to find Hamza Elshabazz, 16, and his older brother Ishmael, 21, at the Police Gym, dribbling until dark, or even later. Hamza, a Where to go The Police Athletic League runs eight community centers plus the Police Gym downtown at which youngsters can participate in indoor activities from September to the end of April. For a $25 fee, associate PAL members (adults) can use the Police Gym facilities year-around (weight room, indoor track and basketball courts) at 500 Clinton, adjacent to the No.

1 precinct at 1300Beaubian. Here's a list of PAL centers: Bunche: 2601 Ellery near Vernor. Jones: 7701 Sylvester, near Van Dyke. Goodwill: 340 W. Seven Mile, near Charleston.

Hutchlnr 8820 Woodrow Wilson. Trinity: 1519 Myrtle, near Trumbull. Ludlngton: 19355 Edinborough, near Seven Mile. St. Andrews: 6945 Wagner, near McGraw.

O. W. Holmes: 4823 Ogden, near Michigan. When to sign up Boys baseball: Resgistering now. Adults interested in coaching should attend a May 1 meeting (7 p.m.) at the Northwest Activities Center (PAL headquarters, 18100 Meyers).

Baseball tryouts (incomplete teams adding kids) May 2 at Northwestern High field. League age groups are 16-, 14-, 12-and 10-and-under, plus a KENKO league, which consists of learning fundamentals and batting against a pitching machine. Girls softball: Meeting dates not set yet, but for Information call PAL (935-3313). League age groups are 16-, 14-, 12- and 10-and-under. Bowling: Registration in the first two weeks of June.

Program is run in co-operation with city bowling lanes. Camping: Registration throughout May. To qualify, a youngster's parents must not be able to afford to send their child camping any way but through PAL's program. Tennis: Registration begins the third week of June, and ends the first week of July. Play begins the second week of July and runs through August.

Golf: Registration begins the second week of July, and ends the second week of August. Play begins the third week of August. Football: Registration throughout August. Play begins the first week of September, and ends the second week of November. Hockey: Registration begins the I A I c4k i I- fony if'1' he says is needed.

More facilities, more innovative philosophies, and above all, more officers, he said, are musts. "That's another officer out in the -street," Lane said. "He's another officer out in the community. He's another officer out there working to stop crime, but doing it at the family level. "I tried to get them to give (the Detroit House of Corrections) to me.

I was going to redo it, so kids had beds and could sleep there, get up on a regular basis, do their chores and get into their school curriculums. "But it's still a dream. I'm still working on it. The mayor and governor have talked about it, but won't give me the opportunity to sit down and show them how to do it." Sgt. Shelby McClendon has seen PAL endure growing and shrinking pains, as well, in a variety of roles.

"My title is whatever the program is at the time," he said. "The biggest hat I wear is center co-ordinator. "From my standpoint," he said, "I think PAL is very, very important. Seemingly, to me, the homes are failing. They need more input.

You have a lot of one-parent families, and not enough big brothers. PAL should be expanded. Those contacts with the kids are ones that can really solidify the neighborhood and the community. "Not all kids are bad, but the peer pressure kind of gets them locked in. I know papers have to be sold, and commercials on TV cost a lot.

But what we're missing is that when you play up second week of September, ends the week October. Play begins the first week of November, and ends the first week of March. Boys and girls basketball: Registration begins the first week of October, and ends the first week of December. Play begins the second week of December, and ends the third week of March. Farm A Lot: Registration throughout May for officer-supervised garden work and a chance to enter produce at the Michigan State Fair in August.

Program begins in June and runs throughout the summer. Boxing: PAL runs the year-around program in co-operation with Kronk Gym. Palmoblle: A van stocked with athletic equipment begins making the rounds to Detroit neighborhoods in June (until the end of August). The van carries equipment for street hockey, basketball, tennis, volleyball, chess, checkers, etc. The Palmobile makes two two-hour stops each day once in the afternoon and once In the evening.

To bring the Palmobile to your neighborhood, call PAL the sooner the better. Reading program: Starts in December and ends in April for students in need of special tutoring. Program was run at St. Andrews school this year with 120 kids particpating, and ended with a congrulatory luncheon Tuesday. For more Information on any ol the programs, call PAL headquarters (935-3313).

Youngsters pay only a $3 lifetime membership fee. Coaches must leave a deposit (to be refunded at the end of that season) to ensure the return of equipment and uniforms. JOHN COLLIERDelroll Free Press the negative things so strongly, people become afraid, and then apathy sets in. "We're in a position to do something something positive about it." Building muscles is just one of PAL's many activities as Johnie Smith demonstrates. Cable TV is coming! And Tm ready to get wired 1 I Tony yy; Foster But then came the fall and winter seasons.

Football games. College and pro. I'd watch a college game Thursday night, another Friday night and two or three Saturday. Then came the pro games on Sunday and Monday. Basketball season was worse.

They televised all of the Atlanta Hawks' and Chicago Bulls' road games and the NBA game of the week. Except there were two or three games of the week. I watched everything. I deliberately avoided the 11 o'clock news because I didn't want to know who won the basketball games that night. I stayed up til 4 a.m.

to view games. It was getting pretty bad. My only friends were other cable-a-holics. I rarely left my apartment. I'd get up in the morning, watch morning Sports Center on ESPN or the USA network and rush off for work.

I'd return home as soon as possible, often leaving my work half done. Still, this wasn't enough. I needed more sports. MORE I knew I needed help when I began watching Australian Rules Football, sumo wrestling, roller derby and My mouth is beginning to water. My knees are starting to shake.

It's coming. It's coming. Soon to sweep Detroit. What you ask? What is making this man so excited? Is it a cure for the common cold? A new form of athletic shoe that turns scrub basketball players into Michael Jordan? What is this great coming? Cable television, my friends! That's what. Cable television? Is he nuts, you ask.

Maybe so. But cable television is the greatest thing to happen to us Detroit sports junkies since the Tigers won the 1984 World Series. My alleged pal and fellow Freep sports writer, Drew Sharp, called to say that his parent's house is being wired in northwest Detroit. I gotta be next, since the Lafayette Park area is scheduled to be wired by Barden Cablevision in Phase 2. I can't wait.

I want to be first in line. My family doesn't understand my excitement. My friends just shrtuj their shoulders. I eventually got help. It was a long and tough withdrawal, but I think I've recovered from the dreaded cable disease.

I learned to watch in moderation while living in Mt. Clemens. And I'll do the same when my apartment is connected downtown. Actually, cable television is a great thing. I love it.

Local groups can take advantage and produce shows to benefit the community. Some local stations show high school football and basketball games. It has many other useful purposes, telling local folks what's happening in their neighborhood. And Detroit's population could grow. I have friends in the suburbs who want to move to Detroit, but won't.

"Are you kidding," one said, "there's no cable TV." I moved to Detroit two years later than originally planned because cable talks were taking so long. Now that it's here, I'm not going anywhere for a while. I'll push the buttons; sit back and enjoy all the wonderful sports of the world. Don't worry. I learned my lesson well.

I won't go overboard again. And you are welcome to come over to make sure I'm OK. Just bring the potato chips and pop. 1 What's the big deal, they ask. Sports.

SPORTS! And more SPORTS! Basketball, football, baseball, hockey, curling, wrestling, track and field, bowling, you name it. You'll even see Australian Rules Football. That's one weird sport. But, somehow, you get the urge to watch it every six months or so. Before going any further, I should tell you the dark side of cable TV.

Unfortunately, it can be very addictive. I should know. I am a reformed cable television-a-holic. I couldn't get enough of the stuff. It nearly ruined my life.

I am not proud of it. It brought shame to my family, but i should tell you my story. Maybe others can benefit from my mistakes. It all began innocently in Grand Rapids. The summer wasn't so bad.

A few baseball games a week never hurt anyone. wwr wren ling six times a week..

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