|| It was early morning a couple of Saturdays ago. As I headed down Market Street and crossed through confusion corner a large empty space was evident at the west entrance to Brandon Park. Chief Knockahomer was gone, not there, as in left the reservation.
The 24-foot wood sculpture whose proper name is Chief Woapalanne had become a fixture at this site since 1990. My affectionate nickname, and you know how I love nicknames, for the giant Chief, Knockahomer, as in out of one of Brandon Park's three fields, Little League, softball and one full size diamond with a very reachable short fence.
I coached Little League at Brandon for years and would always refer to Pete "Wolf" Toth's giant wooden sculpture by that name to the young ball players.
As they grew up they would learn about his true identity as Chief Woapalanne. They also learned Coach Webb might have been fibbing a little that the Chief was the first maker of wooden baseball bats in the Susquehanna Valley and the Cleveland Indians were named in his honor.
I watched the Chief come to life as Mr. Toth meticulously carved him. He became the greeter and a landmark for Brandon Park as time passed.
Yes, I like to joke around but when I observed the open void where he had stood for 25 years it was like a little part of all those Summers spent at Brandon was taken away from me. I know how much he has meant to the community and how many pictures have been taken of the Chief and with the Chief by folks visiting our area.
What a great piece of art, history and conversation piece the Chief has become to Williamsport.
Well, it didn't take me long to find out what happened to the wooden Indian giant. As I reached the office that Saturday morning and read the Sun Gazette, Mark Maroney explained it all to me. Mark does a great job of covering the City and also keeping track of old Indian Chiefs.
Chief Woapalanne didn't fall in battle nor was he stolen by a rival Indian gang or should I say tribe, he had bugs. Termites to be exact and they really have taken a toll on him.
The Chamber of Commerce, Brandon Park Commission and City of Williamsport had him taken down due to the safety concerns for the public. They didn't want the old Indian Chief to launch one last surprise attack. This was the only decision that could be made based upon the damage to his base and inside bottom where he was supported. There will be much more on Chief Woapalanne in next week’s issue.
How about the start our Williamsport Crosscutters got off to? Ten straight wins to open the season and no their good fortune has not been created by swinging bats made from Chief Knockahomer.
Great pitching, timely hitting and hustle have Billtown's boys of Summer off to the best start in franchise history.
If you win they will come has always been my philosophy on how to put fans in the seats. Great crowds have been turning out at Susquehanna Bank Park at Historic Bowman Field. Master of Ceremonies Gabe Sinicropi and his sidekick Rashawn, Director of Smiles, provide great entertainment between innings. If you are looking for a family night out, good food and fun at an affordable price you can't go wrong with a trip to the West End.
While you are there take a look at "Splash Cove," the completed Memorial Pool Project. Mayor Gabe and his staff have done an outstanding job. It should provide much Summer fun and cool down those hot July days we are all waiting for.
To dispel some other rumors, the Pirate Statue that greets you upon entering Splash Cove wasn't heisted from the Pirates of the Caribbean at Disney World. It is also not an image of Mayor Gabe dressed like a pirate although some think it strikes a strong resemblance.
Say a Prayer for Cruz
In last week's Webb Weekly there was a story (Cooper Family Benefit) about a courageous seven-year-old, Cruz Cooper, who is battling a rare form of leukemia. I have known Cruz's grandfather Kelly for years, our relationship bonded around the baseball diamond; he has been a good friend of the Webb family.
As I have talked with Kelly and kept track of Cruz's condition it has been truly heart wrenching to hear what Chad and Gina, Cruz's parents, and the family have gone through and fought through together. Unfathomable.
There has been one constant, Cruz that All-American little boy that should be taking batting practice with his Dad and Grandfather instead of fighting for his life, has continued to smile, love and live with courage and bravery.
He has been an inspiration to all around him. His love of his baby sister and family is amazing.
From my conversations with Cruz's Pappy I have learned much about what a family goes through during a child's battle against a deadly disease. Things many of us don't think about or want to think about. Like percentage rates of survival, side effects, being away from home for weeks at a time and financial burdens which is the least of a families worries when dealing with a situation like this.
To update you on Cruz – he has completed three rounds of chemo and was to be undergoing a bone marrow transplant as I was penning this article. The outlook for recovery is cautiously optimistic.
If you would like to help, there will be a fundraiser to defray some of the expenses the Cooper family has incurred. It will be held Saturday, July 11 at the Hughesville Fireman's Social Hall from 2:00-4:00 p.m. For information about the event check out last week's article or Cruz Cooper Benefit Hughesville, PA on Facebook. You may also email Sally Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
If you cannot make the event and want to help you may send a check or donation to Webb Weekly, 280 Kane Street, Suite 2, South Williamsport, PA 17702 made payable to the Cruz Cooper Benefit Fund. I will make sure it gets to the family.
God Bless America.