NORMAN - Ticket takers, one for every regal door, stood sentry Monday night at the OU Field House.
Long lines never formed. Short ones, either.
Oh, but there was a time. A Saturday night 27 autumns ago, when South Carolina came to town and the line snaked to Brooks Street, took a hard left and stretched over to Jenkins.
When finally we got in, the only spots left were in the northwest corner, near the wall. Still good seats, and glad to get 'em. Alvan Adams' Sooners beat Alex English's Gamecocks that night. Grand fun.
Monday night, the Field House hosted OU basketball for the first time since 1975. The Sooners beat Athletes First 86-78 in an exhibition ignored by all but old-timers like me. The no-show crowd - 1,340 darkened the door - proved that the market for nostalgia has dropped.
Oh, well. Newer digs, like Lloyd Noble, have plenty of parking, padded seats and post-World War II plumbing.
But give the memories to the Field House.
Glen Harless drove down from Stillwater to relive bygone days. Glen was here the 1957 night Wilt Chamberlain and Kansas marched in, then marched out with a 59-51 win.
"Unbelievable," Harless said. "You couldn't hear yourself think, the noise was so loud."
Mike McCurdy stopped by to see the show. He played in OU's last game at the Field House, the night Adams hung 43 points on Iowa State.
How long ago was that 1975 game? McCurdy's daughter, Mikel, danced Monday night as a member of the OU pom squad. How long ago was that 1975 game? Back then, the Sooners didn't even have poms.
"We were supposed to play in Lloyd Noble," Mike McCurdy said. "Never got it built in time."
He didn't seem to mind. McCurdy rattled off old memories. The South Carolina game. Adams' 43-point night. The smell of the gym. The noise of the crowd that never numbered higher than 4,100.
"Some of the older facilities, they were tough to play in," McCurdy said.
He recalled Kansas State's Ahern Fieldhouse, which in the '80s joined the Field House on the scrapheap. Fans would reach out and pinch opponents inbounding the ball.
"Seemed like a lot of the older places had more atmosphere," McCurdy said.
Nothing against Lloyd Noble. It's got atmosphere, too. Nothing like the venerable temples, Gallagher-Iba Arena or Allen Fieldhouse, but decent and probably better with renovations completed this week.
But give this baby boomer a break. Lloyd Noble is a place I took myself. The Field House is where I needed Dad to take me.
In the early '70s, when Big Eight hoops were good just not hyped, I saw Garfield Heard and Clifford Ray, guys who could have starred for Billy Tubbs or Kelvin Sampson, and I saw them from seats that were right on top the court, even when the ticket line stretched to the street.
All because of Dad's wheels and wallet.
I called Dad on Monday to see if he wanted to go to the game. I didn't reach him, but it really doesn't matter. Memories filled the void.
Berry Tramel can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.Archive ID: 870474