Posted: Tuesday January 24, 2006 2:41PM; Updated: Tuesday January 24, 2006 2:46PM
Of course we've gotten to know our local postal clerks quite well. They are far from the proverbially disgruntled ones you read about. (Gruntled they must be, for when we almost daily hauled in boxes of orders to be shipped in the final few days before Christmas, thereby holding up snaking queues of other patrons, the clerks continued to regard us with indulgent smiles.) It's usually the fate of the even-tempered Sue to process our orders, but sometimes we get Kelly, whose curiosity has almost moved her to log on to our Web site to see what all the fuss is about, and at other times Ted, who for the abiding benefit of Vanessa and our two toddlers unbuttoned his shirt the other day to reveal his own Frost Heaves tee (royal blue, L).
It's been a pleasure to get to know our customers. The Fitzpatricks in Minnesota have my everlasting thanks, because when one of them phoned to order merchandise, she didn't hold it against me that I first thought she was a neighbor playing a practical joke. John in New York State pleaded with us to carry 3X and 4X sizes (we'd drawn the line at 2X), and rejoiced when we agreed to custom-order a 3X for his nephew. (His unsolicited testimonial: "If this is the way our Frost Heaves are going to be run, I could only wish I was younger and about six inches taller and I would play for you for free!")
Hamilton in New Hampshire ordered one size, then sent it back for another, confessing, "They shouldn't allow guys over 60 to order merchandise online." And there's the Huggins family of Andover, Mass., who arranged for a holiday visit not from Santa, but Frost Heave the Snowman, as attested to by the above extended-family portrait taken on Christmas morning. Bailey, the yellow lab, has asked to be considered for guest mascot duty at a home game. (Anyone else with similar pictures of Frost Heaves gear, especially being worn in exotic locales, please forward to us so we can post them on our Web site.)
Before Christmas I phoned Helen, the manager of Apple Mountain Vermont Gifts and Specialty Foods on Burlington's Church Street pedestrian mall, to see if she'd be willing to stock a few items. She'd already heard of the team and quickly agreed. Then, several days later, she called back. She asked if the noontime ballplayer I'd mentioned in a previous column as being a prime candidate for the role of guest Frost Heave under the ABA's 11th Man Rule -- a guy I'd identified only as Mike, a farmer and volunteer fireman from New Haven -- might be the Good Samaritan who, when Helen's mother-in-law got into a car accident just before Thanksgiving, had stopped and pulled her to safety. In the trauma of the moment the woman had neglected to get her rescuer's last name, and now wanted to send him a thank-you note. She thought his name was Mike, and the incident had taken place near New Haven . . ..
Of course, in the small-world way that's commonplace here, it had indeed been Mike 0 -- Mike Dykstra -- who came to the aid of Helen Fuqua's mother-in-law. In Vermont, you take those six degrees of separation and divide 'em by three.
So it goes for the Wolffs, who thought they were starting a basketball team, and for now have a T-shirt business. But then all true basketball insurgencies begin with a signature tee. When the Lithuanian national team made its debut at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, its battle flag turned out to be a tie-dyed shirt graced with the "dunking skeleton" inspired by the Grateful Dead, the band that sponsored the team's march to a bronze medal. Our staple tee has a chance of being similarly cultish, featuring as it does our main jersey logo, the "dynamic roadbed" design that depicts the bump in the highway that we aim to be for rival ABA teams, even if the Frost Heaves name isn't quite yet emblematic of hoops greatness.
But hey, it's what we've got. And we'll soon be branching out. We have plans to add a "Frost Heaves Ahead" tee, just as the mid-winter thaw and re-freezing of the roadbed cause eponymous signs to begin popping up along highways around here. Down the road -- by then a presumably smoother one -- look for a fleece vest for the mature crowd, and a hoodie for the young'uns.
And, around a few more bends, we'll actually have tickets to sell, and games to play -- and to win.