It all really began, Marques Haynes's show of basketball shows, in an old gymnasium in Baton Rouge late in the winter of '45. Haynes took the ball out of bounds from Willie Malone. Came upcourt, young Marques did, dribbling across the center line, with the ball bouncing low, thumping, floor to fingertips to floor. Haynes had been waiting all night for this moment, knowing all along what he would do should an occasion like this arise.
The occasion was the final 2½ minutes of the championship game of the old Southwestern Conference tournament. Haynes's Langston University, an all-black school out of central Oklahoma, was thrashing the host school, Southern University, at the moment leading by 13. In an earlier game, Southern had not merely defeated but had humiliated Samuel Huston College and that school's young coach, an aspiring professional baseball player named Jackie Robinson, by showing the Dragons up in a pointless exhibition of razzle-dazzle ball handling and fancy footwork.
"They'd made fools of them," Haynes recalls. "I decided then, if we played Southern in the finals, and the opportunity was there, that I was going to go into my act."
Malone had warned him not to. Why, the Langston coach, Zip Gayles, would never brook such nonsense. A rigid fundamentalist, a strictly give-and-go and move-the-ball guy, he forbade all things fancy, and excessive dribbling was punishable by benching. But here it was, with less than three minutes to go, and time to settle a score.
Showtime! There was Haynes, down on one knee, dribbling between his legs. The crowd in that little gym, some 2,500, started howling for more. Up on his feet, he took off around the key, making a circuit of the half court. Defenders closed in, chasing him. Dribbling behind his back and between his legs, he made another circle of the court, then another. The Southern players dived for the ball. Stopping, starting, stopping, he raced down the key, up the key, around the top, then dropped to his knees.
The roar of the crowd grew louder. With less than a minute to go, coins and articles of clothing began falling on the court. There were pennies and nickels, dimes and quarters, shirts and hats and programs. "People went crazy," Haynes recalls. "They got louder and louder." He poured it on, more and more. With half a minute to go, rising to the chorus, Haynes slid to a stop and lay down on his side, dribbling the ball in front of him. The fans whooped and hollered and stomped their feet. The whole Southern team was diving and grabbing at the ball, but Haynes kept dribbling.
With less than 15 seconds on the clock, he heard Malone's voice: "Marques! Here comes Zip!"
Outraged, Gayles had left the bench and come out on the court, joining the Southern team in pursuit of Marques. Chased not only by five defenders but also by his own coach, with time running out, he figured he'd better get rid of the ball and get out of there. So he made one more quick sweep of the half court, drove the basket, put the ball up for two and kept running, right for the locker room. He heard the buzzer as he hit the door, and still today he can hear Gayles's voice as the coach chased him through it:
"Haynes, goddammit! You'll never play another game for Langston University!" It was a momentary outburst—the next year Haynes was back in a Langston uniform.
Under a South Carolina sky bright and alive with stars, the bus pitched slightly in the wind as it rolled south toward Georgia on this February night. The Savannah River lay just ahead, and beyond it the road to Macon and Atlanta, but they were hours away through the woods that parted for the road, and the driver kept the bus at 65 mph, no faster. It was 1 a.m., and the broad, divided expanse of Interstate 95 was nearly deserted. It was dark in the bus except for the pale glow of light from the dash that illuminated the face of the man known for almost 40 years as The World's Greatest Dribbler.
"You make good time on these roads," Marques Haynes said. "Clear, quiet. Not a whole lot of traffic. Not like years ago when I first came down here with the Harlem Globetrotters, late '40s, early '50s. It was all single-lane then. Narrow roads, lots of curves, hills and little towns. Get behind one of those big trucks and you'd drive for miles before you could pass 'em. At 35 miles an hour!"
In fact, at the moment, Haynes was steering the bus around a diesel chugging along in the right lane, just as smoothly as he moved around a pick at the top of the key. Both hands on the wheel, his wiry 6-foot frame erect in the driver's seat, he eased the bus on down into Georgia.
Marques Haynes was on the road again, just as he has been every season since he left Langston nearly 40 years ago. He won't admit to his exact age—"I'm 37½ and holding," the man says—but he figures to be 60 or thereabouts, assuming he was 21 when he graduated from Langston in '46. That was about 12,000 basketball games ago, Haynes estimates, played during an odyssey of more than four million miles with the Globetrotters (1947-53); the original Harlem Magicians ('53-72); the Globetrotters again ('72-79); Meadowlark Lemon's Bucketeers ('79-81); the Harlem Wizards ('81-83); and finally his own Harlem Magicians again. It is an odyssey that has taken him to 97 countries and to so many American cities, towns and hamlets that he is hard put, glancing at a map, to find a place he hasn't been.
From desolate, snow-covered Butte, Mont, to an ice show in San Remo, Italy with King Farouk of Egypt. From a Thanksgiving dinner of French fries and hamburgers at a greasy spoon in Betsy Layne, Ky. to a cocktail party at the villa of Rita Hayworth and Aly Khan outside Nice. From a rain-soaked soccer stadium in Munich, where he dribbled with one hand and carried an umbrella in the other, to Pope Pius XII's summer home at Castel Gandolfo, where the Pope clapped his hands and exclaimed, "Wonderful! Beautiful!" as the Globies played tricks with the ball—His Holiness, robed in white vestments, tapping a foot to Sweet Georgia Brown.
From then to now.
"Haynes!" The mild bass bellow belonged to 46-year-old Mel Davis, a former Globetrotter himself, who was burning incense and sitting in the middle of the Magicians' bus. It was 2:21 a.m.
"You all right?" asked Davis.
"I'm doin' it!" Haynes said. "I'm doin' it!"
On this night, in fact, he had done it again. The Harlem Magicians had just played a game against a team of locals before 118 souls in a dimly lit gym at the Charleston Air Force Base. The Magicians had been on the road since the early fall, crisscrossing the Midwest before heading east and playing what gyms they could book along the way.
The tour, which will end in June in either Europe or West Africa, had meandered from Texas north through Nebraska and the Dakotas, across the Mississippi into Illinois and Indiana, up into New Hampshire and Massachusetts, down the East Coast and on to Puerto Rico and Guantànamo Bay. Now the Magicians were navigating the Southeast, dressing out of metal lockers that go clang in the night and playing before small crowds under mercury-vapor lamps whose light turns brown skin a light olive green.
Haynes hadn't played in Charleston. He's usually on the court at least three quarters of every show, about 250 a year, mixing artful dribbling and behind-the-back passing with two-handed set shots that swish the net from 30 feet away. He had pulled a groin muscle in Summerville, S.C. the night before, so he had taken a break in Charleston. It had been a confusing night getting to Charleston. Well past midnight, after stopping at the wrong motel—"We've got three rooms," snapped the Howard Johnson's clerk. "Take it or leave it." Haynes had ended up negotiating rates with the clerk of the Holiday Inn, which had offered him double rooms at $32 a night.
"We were told by the lady that the rate for athletes was $25 for a room," Haynes said. The clerk shrugged. "If that's what she told you, O.K.," said the clerk. It was past one before they crashed.
The Magicians travel economy class: breakfast at the Waffle House, lunch at Shoneys (beef tips on a noodle bed with a cruise or two around the salad bar), a snack at a service station minimart, microwaved.
The next night, as Haynes sat in the Charleston locker room waiting for the game, one of the referees came by. Suited up, Haynes was sitting with his head against a wall, his eyes half closed.
"Doesn't this get old?" the ref asked.
"Not really," said Haynes.
"The traveling, I mean.... "
"It got old a long time ago," said Haynes.
Now he was tooling northwest toward Macon, on the way to Chamblee. Haynes lit a Benson & Hedges and sat back. "I've been in basketball for as far back as I can remember," he said. "After you've traveled so many years, you don't pay it any mind. After one stop, it's on to the next. You get lonely on the road, sure. It gets boring. It gets tiring. Sometimes you wonder why you're out here, out on the road, but then you remember you've been here all your life and how you enjoyed it so."
Most of the Magicians were asleep, arms and legs asprawl. Only Davis and Valentino Willis, the team comedian, were talking. The incense lingered in the air like a sweet smell of the past. They were speaking of the old times, the days almost 40 years ago of Goose Tatum and Marques Haynes, of Sweetwater Clifton and Duke Cumberland, of Ermer Robinson and Bernie Price, of Babe Pressley and Sam (Boom-Boom) Wheeler, of Inman Jackson, Ducky Moore, Josh Grider and Ted Strong. "The game was more skillful then," Davis quietly told Willis. "Those days the ball moved faster. Today it's all muscle."
Of these early Globies, only Haynes is still playing games, still out there on the road. Only Long Tom Smith, a boyhood pal of Haynes's from Sand Springs, Okla. who had a cup of coffee with the Globies, is there to remind him of the past. Smith, the Magicians' regular driver, was snoozing in the seat behind Haynes. The bus's fuel gauge read nearly empty. Haynes flipped a switch, engaging the auxiliary tank, and the dial swept back to full.
Haynes laughed. "We didn't have anything like this in the '40s, early '50s," he said. "Traveling now is a heck of a lot more comfortable. Here we have a custom-made bus for 11 passengers, with reclining cushioned seats, plenty of leg-and headroom. The guys can get up and move around. All we had in the old days was an old Army carryall with a bare metal roof that didn't have any insulation in it."
For the Globies in those days, more to be feared on the road than a redneck were the icicles that grew like spears from the roof inside the bus and makeshift heaters that could set your pants on fire. "In the wintertime, icicles formed, and we had to keep them broken off so they didn't stick in our heads if we hit a bump," said Haynes. "No heating system. Forget it. We had blankets that we wrapped around and between our legs, and each guy had an old kerosene lantern, a railroad lantern, that he lit and set under his blanket to stay warm. Later the Globetrotters got one of those old school buses to drive around in, but it was just as cold as that old carryall."
That Marques Haynes is a final link to that past, the last vestige of an age gone by, is a truth that he carries with him like an old railroad lantern, a light of this land's history that he swings alone in the dark. Whistle Sweet Georgia Brown, and in his mind's eye he sees Clifton shooting over George Mikan. Or Wheeler bouncing a pass behind a pick. Or Tatum, the only authentic genius he ever knew to play comedy basketball, dressed in a hula skirt in a game in Hawaii, swiveling his hips in the pivot, his skirt swishing, his eyes apop with glee and his pearly whites shining, and the fans crammed into the gym breaking up.
"He got in the pivot and started making those gangly, crazy moves with that skirt on, and people were laughing so hard they were crying," Haynes says. "He had players on the bench falling over each other. You laughed at Goose just looking at him. He's the best I've seen in all of my years and of all the guys I've played with or seen perform in this type of basketball. No one will ever match him. You laugh at him now just thinking about him."
Haynes is thinking about those nights now. He laughs and then he doesn't. Yes, Reece (Goose) Tatum was the funniest, oddest, most peculiar man he ever met—funny and mean, kind and generous, alone and sad, a racist who hated whites yet played the clown for them, a captive in his own house of mirrors. "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde had nothing on Goose," says Haynes.
Marques can remember a frigid night in Cincinnati, when it was 15° outside, and Tatum's door opened and he dragged his third wife, Naomi, outside by her hair, threatening to leave her out in the cold, until Grider came along, breaking the tension.
"What are you doin'?" yelled Grider.
"I'm gonna throw her out the door!" Tatum screamed. Grider told Goose to cool it, then he took off his coat, wrapped it around her and helped her back to the room.
Haynes recalls leaving Chicago Stadium one afternoon, between games of a double-header, and seeing Tatum race by at a full gallop. Tatum's wife at the time, Nona, was after him with a pistol, and two cops were on her tail. "She was shooting at him," Haynes recalls. "Ka-pow! Ka-pow! All of a sudden one of the bullets hit his right ear, and Goose went into second gear. Ka-pow! He showed up for the second game with his right ear bandaged. She was a lovely person. I have no idea why she was chasing him.
"Some nights Goose would walk into a restaurant and tip the headwaiter $50," Haynes says. Other times, says Wheeler, Tatum would return a steak he didn't like by picking it up and dropping it on the floor. Haynes recalls several nights with Tatum on the road when a bum would approach them on the street and ask for money. "Goose never gave away money," Haynes says. Instead, he would march the derelict into the nearest diner and tell the waitress, "Give him what he wants, I'll pay the check."
And there was the Easter weekend when he gathered a group of little girls together, all of them poor, and took them to a dress shop and bought them bonnets and outfits for Sunday.
In a sense, Tatum's act on the court reflected the life he led off it: Now you see the ball, now you don't. Now you see Goose, now you don't. One night in Rome he disappeared. No Goose that night. Nor the next. Nor the next. First the Globies heard, he had been arrested in Dallas for striking a policeman.
One day, passing through Gary, Ind., Tatum ordered the driver to pull over. "Stop here," Tatum said. "I want to get something out of the drugstore." Twenty minutes later, still no Goose. One of the Globies went inside, but Tatum was nowhere around. He had walked in and never walked out. Six days later, after playing towns in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, the Globies pulled into White Plains, N.Y. There, in the locker room, sat Tatum.
Signs on the road to Chamblee flash by. One says MACON 130 MILES. The bus bears on through the night. "I represent these guys still," Haynes is saying now. "Tatum, Josh, Sweetwater, Ermer, Sam Wheeler, Ted, Duke Cumberland. A way of life from the beginning to the present. Some are dead now. Goose has passed along. Babe Pressley, Ermer, Duke, Inman Jackson, Sonny Boswell. They're all dead. Some are no longer playing. Sweetwater, Josh, Sam. Somehow we formed a kind of bond that players don't form anymore. There's always some kind of communion, a fondness spoken when one of their names is mentioned. There will never be another group like that. I'm the last of the breed. That's a reason why I have hung on like I have."
Wherever he goes, each night he plays, he sees in the Magicians today a reminder of the way things were. "A reminder of some of the fellas, or all of them," Haynes says. "There is some kind of reminder of Goose or Ermer or Sweetwater. Sometimes it comes to mind in a particular routine. Or in a particular shot. Or in a certain move that a player might make. It comes to mind. I feel that each time I go on that court, a part of them is on that court with me. I guess it could be looked at that it is in honor of them that I am still playing.
"I try to represent them on the court in a way that I know they would have wanted to be represented," he says. "All of these fellas lived and breathed this type of basketball. The ball handling. The different routines. Goose with the string ball. The bucket-of-confetti trick....
"It does make me feel good that I've been around so long." Haynes says. "About every town I go to. someone asks me, 'What happened to Goose Tatum? To Sweetwater Clifton?' It makes me feel good that they remember. People say they saw me play when they were 10! And that their fathers and their grandfathers had brought them out, and now they have their kids with them.
"I've always loved the sport. I still love it. The game itself. The beauty of it. The way it was meant to be played. A game of togetherness. Like a piece of machinery. Those fellas are still out there with me. It was a bond."
Haynes's own love affair with basketball began in the 1920s, when he was growing up as the youngest of four kids in a shack in the black section of Sand Springs, a small place hard by the Arkansas River just outside Tulsa. Haynes's father, Matthew, who worked as a domestic, left home when Marques was four, leaving the rearing of the boy to his mother, Hattie, and her older children. They were as poor as the dirt yard around the house, which Marques swept with a broom. They had no electricity, no running water. They ate low on the hog, except for the cakes and sweet-potato pies that Hattie cooked and set out on the windowsill to cool.
"Across the street from the house was a box factory," Haynes says. "They had a black guy for a janitor and he'd bring over cardboard boxes and we'd put them up for insulation. We papered the walls with the Tulsa World and The Tulsa Tribune." The older Haynes kids, including sister Cecil and brother Wendell, all played basketball for Booker T. Washington High School. Cecil first took Marques to a practice when he was five years old, set him on the sidelines and gave him a basketball to play with.
"I learned how to shoot from her and how to dribble from Wendell," Haynes says. "We'd take economy-size food cans and cut the bottoms out and tack them to the outhouse, then ball rags and tie them together and shoot baskets. Sometimes we'd find a barrel hoop on an empty lot and tie a feed 'n' grain gunnysack to it for a net and use that for a basket. Everywhere I went—the backyard, vacant lots—I practiced dribbling with a tennis ball. Or a rubber ball."
Not that Haynes became a high school prodigy. Booker T. had a superior basketball team in those days, what with Orlandus Lowe, Big Eyes Davidson, James (Peter Rabbit) Wilks and Long Tom Smith, and Smith recalls that Haynes had a devil of a time breaking into the starting lineup.
The autumn following his senior year in high school, Haynes hitchhiked to Langston, 83 miles away, catching 16 rides and bumping over the last two miles in a mule-drawn wagon driven by an amiable old white man wearing overalls. "Glad to see you're goin' to school," he told young Marques. "Get out there and do the best you can."
Haynes eventually graduated with a degree in industrial education—cabinetmaking and welding, that sort of thing—but what he did best was play basketball. On a team that won 112 games and lost only three while he was there, Haynes was the star. In a famous scene from the movie Go, Man, Go!, a story of the Globetrotters, Haynes catches the fancy of owner Abe Saperstein, played by Dane Clark, after challenging Saperstein to steal the ball from him in a hotel corridor, then making Saperstein look foolish by dribbling around him. That was Hollywood varnish. The Globies first met Haynes when he was a senior at Langston, when, except for that one show against Southern the season before, he was playing straight, no-nonsense basketball for Gayles.
When the Globetrotters came to town, they played Langston. "We won't beat you by a whole lot," the Globie captain, Cumberland, assured Gayles. The only thing fancy about Marques that day was the 26 points he scored in leading Langston to a 74-70 win. The Globies' traveling secretary, Winfield Welch, tried to sign Haynes, but Marques turned him down. "I was right on top of getting a degree," Haynes says. "My mother would have killed me if I had left school."
After getting his degree and going on a tour that fall with the Kansas City Stars, a kind of Globetrotter farm team, Haynes signed on with the Globies in January 1947. He and Tatum were the show, of course, with Goose carrying the comedy and Marques doing the dribbling. "I never considered myself a clown," he says.
Nor did the NBA owners and coaches. Twice he turned down offers to play in the NBA—with the Philadelphia Warriors in 1953 and with the Minneapolis Lakers in 1955. "I would have made $35,000 in 1953 and been the highest-paid player in the NBA," says Haynes. "Isn't that unbelievable? I tell that to my players and they don't believe me. You tell them that we stayed three or four in a hotel room, and slept across one bed, and they don't believe that, either."
Tell them, Marques, about that hotel you stayed at in Cincinnati and the insect spray: "It was an old, dilapidated-looking hotel. It seemed like a haunted house. It had these old creepy steps you had to walk up, broken windows, spider webs, and here come two or three bats flying around.... We used to have to go into hotels with insect spray. We'd take the covers off and spray our mattresses, underneath and on top, to kill the bedbugs."
Tell them about the day Clifton bought a used Lincoln in snowy Cleveland and how all those Globies, who went with him to pick it up, had to push it out of the dealer's lot because the battery was dead and how everyone laughed as they fell in the snow. Or about how every city had a black hotel, and about how that was good in a way because every black entertainer who happened to be in town would stay in that same hotel—Nat King Cole and Bill (Bojangles) Robinson, Joe Louis and Peg Leg Bates.
Or about the aromatic catfish at the black Pershing Hotel in Chicago, or the smells that watered the mouth at Skippy's restaurant in Cleveland, across the street from the old Majestic Hotel, with the elevator that always stopped four inches above floor level and you had to be careful stepping on. Ah, Skippy's—short ribs and ham hocks, biscuits with gravy and eggs, greens and rice and grits for breakfast. Or about Ted Strong's cardboard suitcase—three shirts, two or three pairs of pants and dozens of comic books. Dick Tracy and The Katzenjammer Kids.
Or about how Clifton, a superstitious sort, used to play in one black shoe and one white shoe to break out of a slump. Or about that day in Chihuahua, Mexico, when two teammates fouled out in the third quarter, leaving only four players, and how you ran out the clock by dribbling for all but four seconds of the eight-minute fourth quarter. Or about the day in 1951 in Berlin when Jesse Owens, the Globetrotters' traveling secretary at the time, made his triumphal return to Olympic Stadium—the scene of his tour de force in the 1936 Olympics—before 75,000 people who would not stay down.
"I've never seen anything like it, before or since," Haynes says. "They must have given him an ovation for at least 45 minutes."
Or about Saperstein, the Great Emancipator himself, arrogant and stubborn, who once told Haynes, in the course of a contract dispute, "Negroes don't need as much money as the white man."
Or, finally, what it was like for a black man to travel in a bus across white man's land. There was the day that he and his wife, Joan, a model, checked out of a motel in Clay Center, Kans., and the clerk at the desk deadpanned, "Are the TV and towels still in the room?"
In the South, of course, they often had to drive for hundreds of miles to find a drinking fountain or a bathroom that they could use, or a place to stay. "Some of the places, we had to go to the back door of a restaurant and order from there," says Haynes. "You didn't want to force your way in because you didn't know what they'd do to your food."
The arenas came black and white, too. "In Jackson, Miss., we played before a black audience," he says. "No whites were allowed. We even had to have a black referee and black scorers. The only white in the building was the sheriff, and the only reason he was there was to prevent whites from coming in. In Birmingham we played in the day for whites and at night for blacks. In Atlanta we played for a mixed audience, only blacks came through a side entrance and sat upstairs."
One night in Odessa, Texas the Globetrotters bunked on cots in the gymnasium where they had just played. The old Magicians had their share of racial problems, too. "We went to a place in Blackfoot, Idaho, and a waitress looked at us funny," Haynes says. "We asked her, 'Can we get something to eat?' The waitress pointed to a sign that said NO DOGS OR INDIANS ALLOWED.
" 'That doesn't apply to us,' said Tom Gibson, one of the Magicians then.
" 'It does now,' she said, reading the sign out loud. 'It says, NO INDIANS, DOGS OR NEGROES.' " So they left.
Haynes says he bears no bitterness, but he can't forget how difficult such attitudes made life on the road. In their February swing through the Carolinas and Georgia, Haynes and his troupe ate where they wanted, and occasionally a local would approach Haynes to shake his hand and wish him well. In Chamblee, they pulled into their motel at 6:15 a.m. and roused the clerk, white, who wiped his face and said, "I'm glad you guys finally made it. I was getting worried about you."
Haynes smiled. "I was getting worried about us, too," he said.
One by one, the Magicians stepped off the bus behind Haynes as Smith unloaded the bags. There were Steve Washington and Paul Merrifield, Larry Coleman and Mike Hammond and Chuck Barnett, Davis and Willis. Davis has a bum wheel and was only around to help out temporarily. Of the others, only Willis sees himself playing for a lifetime. "I'll do this until I'm 100 years old if I can," he says. "I like to make people laugh." The others, hired by Haynes along the way, are in it season by season at most, with no long-term commitments.
That night the Magicians played Chamblee, before 280 people in the high school gym, but Haynes kept himself out of the lineup again, nursing that groin pull. The next day Joan Haynes flew in to join him from their home in Oklahoma. When she isn't modeling, she's running their company, Hayneco, Inc., which makes air-filtration bags. Haynes invested heavily in the clothing business several years ago, but a recession sank that.
After a day's layover in Georgia, Haynes & Co. doubled back into South Carolina, first to the U.S. Marine base at Parris Island, then on to the hamlet of Walterboro. Haynes was playing again, and in Walterboro he put on a show. He sank five straight two-handed set shots from 30 feet, swishers that had the 257 spectators howling. He also dazzled them with behind-the-back passes and dribbled out the final minute of the first quarter as opponents swiped weakly at the ball.
The Magicians chanted as he went into his routine, dribbling the ball between his legs. Down on one knee, he switched hands, swung around, then dropped flat on his side to the floor, bouncing the ball in front of him. Up again, he swept to the top of the key. Flipping the ball behind his back, he swung for the basket and scored a layup as the crowd cheered lustily.
It was late again, and the players were asleep as the bus headed north to Clinton. Marques was driving again, laughing once more at thoughts of Goose. Haynes has never made more money in the game than he did in the two years from 1955 to '57, when he owned the Magicians in partnership with Tatum. He made a good salary when he rejoined the Globies in 1972. But he and Tatum had the Midas touch, grossing $700,000 the first year and more the second. Tatum dissolved the partnership to go on his own, but several years later they were talking about getting the old act back together.
By then, Tatum had spent time in jail for income tax evasion, and he was sick when Haynes last spoke to him on the telephone in January 1967. They promised to speak again when Tatum was feeling better. A week later, while Haynes was driving through California with his brother Joe and Grider, they were listening to the radio. "We heard that Barney Ross, the prizefighter, and Goose Tatum had died," says Haynes.
Tatum's funeral was as singular as the man himself. The burial was set for 10 o'clock on a Friday morning at the military cemetery at Fort Bliss, Texas, and Haynes headed there from California, picking up his first wife, Marquetta, from whom he was divorced in 1970, on the way. They drove out to the cemetery. No funeral, no Goose. A group of gravediggers, milling around, told them that Tatum had been buried without ceremony an hour earlier.
"Did they say a prayer or read Scripture?" Haynes asked.
"They didn't do nothin'," one of the gravediggers said. "They drove up, backed the hearse up to the grave, lowered the casket and took off."
So Haynes, his wife and Grider, who had joined them, bought a $2.98 Bible at a drugstore, and returned to the grave. There they gathered with the gravediggers and read the Lord's Prayer and the 23rd Psalm. "It was pathetic," Haynes said. "Here was a man I played with. I never saw the body.... Goose was the greatest drawing card that had ever been."
Behind the wheel of the bus, his eyes on the road late this night, Haynes faced only the future, free for the moment of his sweet bondage to the past. "I don't need to do this," he said. "If I didn't do this, I could hang around Hayneco, or go to Texas with my dad. He's going to be 100 years old on May 3. I love it down there. My brother and I own that farm. Joe and me. It's 166 acres. Corn, cow feed. My dad has a few cows. I would increase the stock. I've got a lot of property in Sand Springs, Tulsa, Las Vegas. But I'd like to play until 1991. That would mean I played basketball in seven decades—from the '30s to the '90s.
"You know where I intend to play my last game?" asked The World's Greatest Dribbler. "Right where I played my first game. In Sand Springs, Oklahoma. Hopefully, that old gym is still there. I might have to fix it up. But I started there, and I'll end there."