In Memory of J.B. Milano


Lost Ball Lost Boy

We were out of school for summer vacation and one of the things to keep us occupied was playing baseball on the new ball fields over at Park Road Elementary School play ground. The site had been part of the Sugar Creek flood plain. When the school was built dirt was brought in and the site raised up. Drains had been built to catch rain water run off and keep down erosion. There were a maze of concrete pipes running every which way under the playgrounds and school that came together and dumped out into Sugar Creek. On one such day we lost our baseball in one of the drain openings. We stood looking down at our ball in the drain trying to figure out how to get it out. It was decided that someone would enter the main drain down at the creek and duck walk or crawl back to our ball and retrieve it. Now John Milano and I had explored a lot of the drains so it was decided that one of us would retrieve the ball. I protested that I had a large scab on my knee from road rash after falling off my bike and I couldn't crawl. John volunteered and we decided we would lead him to the ball by calling his name and he could follow our voices. John and Bobby Corry went down to the creek where John entered the main drain pipe, Bobby stood by the entrance to guide him back out with his voice. After 15 or 20 minutes of yelling at John and he yelling back we realized that he was lost in the maze. All we created was a lot of echos that confused him. We told him to stay put, help was on the way. Johnny Johnson ran home told his mother what had happened that John was lost in the drains. Mrs. Johnson called the police and told them what happened. As we stood around the drain the police came up and we told them what happened. They told us to calm down and got on the police radio. Within a few minutes the fire department, city utility crews and a local radio station sent a crew. Much of the afternoon was spent with all kinds of people crawling through the drains trying to find John. Finally someone communicating with John ask him if he could see day light. John said; yea I see day light. Well crawl to it and stick your hand up through grate and we can locate you. Sure enough his hand was spotted and several people lifted the grate up and John crawled out. Another grate was lifted and our ball was retrieved. The city or school system came out later and welded a wire mesh to the bottom of each grate in the playground area to catch anything dropped in the drain.