by Carter G. Baker.
It was a warm summer evening back in the early 1950s as three or four ten- or eleven-year-old boys gathered at one of their houses near Blair Boulevard. The Dad who lived there was taking the boys out to Sulphur Dell to watch the Nashville Vols play baseball. Full of excitement, everybody loaded into the old black ’48 Chevy, and they were on their way.
The Dell was back behind the Capitol down beyond where the Bicentennial Mall is now. Back then, big old brick houses and little wooden ones filled the area right up to the edge of Capitol Hill itself. By then, the neighborhood was so rundown that no one wanted to go down there. But Mr. Dad drove right in, as it was a shortcut to the ball park.
The streets were full of kids running around and folks hanging out on their porches talking. Suddenly, the car full of boys grew silent and their eyes popped wide open as they watched a trim teenage girl without any clothes on run out of a house and right across the street in front of Mr. Dad’s car. He came to a quick stop to keep from hitting her, and everybody stared as she ran up onto another porch and disappeared behind a ragged old screen door.
No one said a word, but they all stared at that door in the hope that she’d run back out and cross the street again. As Mr. Dad began driving on down the street to the Dell, he looked over his shoulder at his dumbstruck passengers and said, “You know, boys, you just never know what you’ll see in the quarters!”
With that, the spell was broken and everybody was soon slapping their fists into their gloves in anticipation of the foul ball they just knew they were going to catch. Arriving at the ballpark, each one bought a Coke for a nickel and settled in for some baseball. None of those boys can remember the score of that game, or even who was playing, but they never forgot what they saw “in the quarters” behind the Capitol on that summer night some sixty years ago.