Friday, November 4, 2022

Magical Williamsburg

The little town of Williamsburg, Indiana, features prominently in Sega CD Summer.

It's where much of the action, such as it is, takes place. I grew up in Williamsburg and visit there several times a year. My parents still live in the same house I grew up in. My brother and his family live in Williamsburg, too, in a home my grandmother once owned.

Needless to say, the 'Burg means a lot to my family and me. It's not a particularly impressive place and is about as small as "small town" gets. We have a single traffic light at the intersection of U.S. 35 and Centerville Road. A volunteer fire station. A youth league ballpark. A community center.

Some of these locations are mentioned in the book. The post office, for example, is where that rogue Mr. James Glad posts a "wanted" poster featuring Tommy Guggenbiller. The ballparks play a big role in the book, as they're a major setting of the baseball scenes. Not much in the book happens at the community center or the volunteer fire station, but they're two of the few notable locations in my hometown.

Let's take a little tour of "Magical Williamsburg..."

The Ballpark

No baseball scene would be complete without baseball diamonds. When I was a kid, Williamsburg had basically three baseball fields, each of which could be used for a couple different leagues. 

This is now designated as Diamond 4 for Majors
There was the Pee Wee diamond, which could also be used for some Minor league games; the Minor/Major diamond, which as the name would suggest hosted Minor and Major games; and the Colt diamond, which could host Colt and Major league games. It probably hosted a Minor league game on occasion, too. There is a fourth field--a softball diamond--that wasn't there when I was growing up.

The Williamsburg Lions Club manages the ballparks. The sign reads, "Williamsburg Lions Club Community Park"
My family spent a lot of time at the ballpark. My dad and other volunteers cut the grass, maintained the fences, chalked the baselines, and dragged the ball fields to smooth out the dirt. Dad was also instrumental in getting the dugouts built. Before those were constructed, teams baked in the sun.

One of the ballparks; you can see one of the dugouts there on the right
What baseball experience would be complete without a concession stand? It's probably the most important building at the whole facility, right? The Williamsburg Youth League Concession Stand served up some pretty tasty popcorn along with a "curated" selection of candy and gum. You couldn't go wrong with a Snickers bar or Reese's Cups. The Super Ropes were pretty popular, too.

This building was essential to a good time at the ballpark
We also served up hot dogs and fountain drinks. My mother could change the soda syrup in a flash (those canisters are heavy, by the way). It was usually customary for someone to buy drinks for the team after the game. Some kids lived for ordering a "suicide," which was all the different soda flavors combined into one cup.

I was never a fan.

The Post Office

What is there to stay about the post office? It's where we get mail.

I've lived in the Indianapolis area long enough to get spoiled by mail delivery. I mean, that's how it works for most people, right? Residents in Williamsburg don't get their mail delivered. Sure, they'll get the occasional package from Amazon or another online retailer, but letters and magazines go to the post office. You have a postal box and a key; you have to drop by the post office every day to pick up your mail.

The P.O. box thing has caused all kinds of grief over the years. You see, my parents' house has a street address. However, that address is not the legal mailing address; the P.O. Box is. The thing is, P.O. boxes are so often used by scammers that some places won't ship stuff to them. And then the Postal Service gets a little bent out of shape if things end up going to the street address because, again, it's not their legal address. It's confusing and frustrating. My mom hates dealing with it.

And if you're wondering why the non-existent street address exists, it's so that emergency responders have an identifiable place to go in case of, well, an emergency.

A wanted poster of the paperboy would've been posted here circa the early '90s

The Community Center

The Williamsburg Community Center once housed a school. It contains a gymnasium that could double as an extra from Hoosiers. The place hosts events and the occasional basketball game or camp these days.

The exterior of the Williamsburg Community Center
One of my fondest memories of the Williamsburg Community Center didn't make it into the book. My family used to have a set of keys to the place, so my brother and I would go over there and shoot hoops on occasion. During one memorable afternoon, my brother and I delighted in singing the Gatorade "Be Like Mike" song while intentionally throwing up the worst shots imaginable in an attempt to parody the insanely popular ad campaign.

You really haven't lived until you've seen Craig the Baseball Prodigy jump 360 degrees in the air and brick a layup that hits the underside of the backboard.

Okay. Maybe you have lived. It was a good time, though.

The Volunteer Fire Station

Being a small town, Williamsburg has a volunteer fire department. It's located just past the town's single traffic light near the intersection of U.S. 35 and Centerville Road. This civic gathering place was used as a voting site for people in Williamsburg.

The exterior of the volunteer fire station

For a long time, the fire station had a pop machine (or soda machine, if you prefer). The thing looked absolutely ancient, but it had a nice selection and always made pizza night a little better if we were out of Coke at home. It wasn't uncommon for my brother or me gather up some quarters and come back with a couple cans.

The machine, as you can see, is no longer there.