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Leon (Shorty) Allison

Leon (Shorty) Allison must rank as one of the best known men to hang up his hat in Greens Fork. Following are excerpts from two stories written on him, the first by Max Knight, now a resident of Greens Fork, and second, by Mary Anne Gilmer Butters, a former resident of the community. The first story was written in 1960 and the second in 1965.

Story 1 by Max Knight

Leon (Shorty) Allison"This run and shoot style of play isn't basketball," says Leon (Shorty) Allison, a close follower of the game since 1926."

"Give me one good deliberate style game," he said, "and I can show you more fundamentals than most modern day fans see in a whole season."

Allison is an authority from a layman's standpoint but has been closer to the game than most fans. He served as Greens Fork scorekeeper from 1926 until this year. His tenure as Wayne County tournament official scorer covered 13 of the 15 years the meet has been held.

For the past seven years, until illness forced him to give it up this year, he has served as alternate scorekeeper for the Richmond sectional. And he has missed but one sectional since 1919.

From this experience, Allison had gathered knowledge of the game of basketball and had picked up some definite ideas along the way.

The 65-year-old Greens Fork druggist says he has seen many good players lost in the shuffle of poor teams. And he has seen many good basketball teams fall before the overpowering Richmond onslaught in the sectional.

Most Thrilling Moment

His most trilling sports moment, he recalls, was Greens Fork's winning the Richmond sectional title in 1936.

"For a small county team," he said, "that is an experience that usually comes but one in a lifetime."

He named seven players to an all-time Greens Fork team, saying he was sure he was leaving off someone who deserved mention but couldn't think who it could be.

His Demon team consists of Edgar Saffer, Rex Ellis and Bill Lintner, Jr. of the 1936 sectional team; Jim Stevenson and Mardell Bane, 1945; and of the moderns, Jack Ridge, 1949; and Jim Mikesell, 1958.

Of the seven all-Greens Fork players named, there were three from the sectional champions of 1936.

"We beat Richmond for the title, 34-20," recalled Allison.

"Then in the regional at Muncie," he continued, "we took the Bearcats, 27-23. New Castle finally stopped us that night by 10 points."

Albert Brown, coach of the Demons that year, was named as Allison's choice for coaching honors.

"Brown had a way with boys that was exceptional," said Allison.

"He mothered his players like an old settin' hen," he added, "and they, without question, gave every ounce of effort in return."

He said his choice of Brown is not taking anything away from several other excellent coaches who have served at Greens Fork.

"For a small school," said Allison, "we have been fortunate in having good basketball men."

"Now," grinned Allison, "as long as I have put myself out on a limb, I might as well saw it off and pick the two best referees."

"First," he said, "would be Ray Mowe of Richmond."

"Mowe was from the old school," he continued, "and probably would not work into present day ball at all. But in his day he was the best."

"Of the modern day referees," he said, "Don McBride must rate as No. 1."

Game Under Control

"Both men," said Greens Fork's top basketball fan, "had the ability to keep the game under control and be in the driver's seat at times."

As for the fans, Allison believes they are more temperamental than in the past. He says the parents are taking the game away from the children to a degree and expect it to become more of an adult game each season.

"Fans want more and more points," he said, "and the addition of rules to allow this seems to be the pattern basketball is taking."

"I figure I am from the old school," he said with a smile, "but I still like play I can at least keep up with while watching a game."

Story 2 by Mary Anne Gilmer Butters

Leon (Shorty) Allison has retired and sold his store in Greens Fork after 39 years of service to the community.

He and Mrs. Allison opened their soda bar, variety and patent drug store May 12, 1926, with the direction of the late Everett Skinner of Centerville. They maintained a continuous business until this summer when they sold to Mrs. Allison's niece, Mrs. Barney Gethers of Greens Fork.

The long hours the Allisons kept their shop open was but one of their services to the community. As the only store of its kind in the town, they opened at 6:30 a.m. and close at 10:30 p.m. seven days a week.

When their daughter, now Mrs. Christena Fields, was at home she helped at the store. However, they managed it alone after she graduated from high school.

Mr. and Mrs. Allison were married in 1916 and lived in Centerville before settling in Greens Fork. He is a native of Knightstown.

To "Miss Public"

"We're going to miss meeting the public," said Allison as he looked back on his long record. "Shorty's," as the store is termed by his customers, was always the meeting place for parents and children after ball games and other gatherings.

Allison always tried to talk every youngster out of smoking. He has never smoked himself and never sold tobacco to those he believed were too young to start.

All of the pictures of the World War II soldiers from Greens Fork were displayed in the store during the war. All of the local soldiers returned except one, from whom Mr. Allison received a letter a day before word was received of his death.

Influenced Youngsters

"Shorty" had an influence upon Greens Fork youngsters. He never let them see any magazines or other literature which he felt was in poor taste. He sent all such literature back to the dealer without letting it appear on the shelves.

He has always been a sports enthusiast. During his first 25 years of keeping score for Greens Fork basketball teams, he missed only four games. He went on to keep score 10 more years.

He also coached the Greens Fork American Legion baseball team for several years. Even when he wasn't coaching, he took a carload of boys to the games.

The local junior high basketball team was also one of the teams he coached part time. In emergency cases, he would coach the high school basketball team as well.

During election time, the store was filled with political discussions and even some arguments. It became the meeting place on the night of elections as well. He remembers many nights when men would stay up for the returns well into the morning.

When the Allisons lived near the store, he recalls that coon hunters would wake him and have him open the store as early as 3 or 4 a.m.

Though he has served the community more than he has taken in monetary terms "Shorty" says of it all: "I've enjoyed it."

Special thanks to Jayne Beers of the Clay Township Historical and Preservation Society for providing this information.


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