"Coach had forgiven him."
My dad's good friend Ulysse Joubert knew somebody who worked in the USL athletic department's ticket office. This is how we got tickets to Shipley's games. Blackham Coliseum was an imposing name for an arena that doubled as a setting for rodeos, camellia pageants, dog shows and globe-trotting evangelists looking for Cajun souls to save.
When Shipley and his team showed up to play, the 5,500-seat venue sold out, some nights attracting as many as 8,000. "Let me tell you, you'd go there on a game night and see anyone in Acadiana you wanted to see," says Roy. "It became the vogue thing to do. Blacks sitting next to whites, poor sitting next to the affluent, and all as one enjoying what Coach Shipley was doing and how he was doing it."
I saw Marvin Winkler play. I saw Payton Townsend and Bo Lamar. When my brother Bobby and I got home after games, we turned on the porch light and shot baskets on the goal next to the driveway. Bobby imitated Lamar's jump shot, and I battled for rebounds against invisible opponents. We played until my dad came outside and told us to shut it down, we'd wake up the neighborhood.
What is wrong with those people? I'd asked myself not long before. Why don't they swim in their own pool?
By the time I was a teenager I was asking different questions: What is wrong with us? Why can't we swim with black people?