BRADFORD – Grandma and grandpa’s was always the place to be when you were a kid.
“I just think of great times whenever I come up here,” UMaine-Presque Isle athletic director and men’s basketball head coach, Dan Kane, said.
“Blanchards Shady Rest” in Bradford was home to holidays and family gatherings for Kane growing up.
But, if you take a peek inside the barn attached to the house, a magical aura stiffens the hair on your arms.
“My grandfather, he didn’t build the whole barn but he did a lot of work to it and he also did build the court,” Kane said.
“It’s the width of about the lane the length of about three point line,” he added.
Kane’s grandpa built the barn court, but it took some convincing.
“My uncle Scott and mom really begged him to tear up the second floor so they could make room for a basketball court,” Kane said.
“My grandfather at first said no if you want to do it you can do it and then one day they came home from school and he did the whole thing,” he added.
The court has been tucked in the barn’s corner for 45 years with blood, sweat and tears soaked in every crack of cement, wood splinter and piece of twine.
“My older brothers and cousins even my uncle Scott no matter what my age they didn’t really take it easy on me and they didn’t call fouls and there was some blood spilled on this court and it was a lot of fun,” Kane said.
They’d play until their hands went numb from the cold, often times switching basketball while one warmed up next to a wood stove, through all hours of the night.
Basketball is life for Kane and his family.
“Elementary school and middle school and high school my grandparents came to everything and I don’t think you appreciate it as much until you get older and even in college I don’t know if I really appreciated it as much until I started coaching,” Kane said
Kane’s grandpa was the architect, but his grandma was the sports maven.
“She came to so many games this year, I mean she was 84 and she came to 19 of our UMPI basketball games. She loved our team and she followed our players just like she followed everyone else growing up,” Kane said.
Barbara Blanchard, Kane’s grandma, passed away on April 17th. At Shady Rest.
“It did set in a little bit that holidays aren’t going to be the same if we’re not here. Part of the holidays is playing basketball in the barn that’s just ingrained in our family,” said Kane.
Creaking wood and wind cutting through the trees is all that goes on at Shady Rest these days.
But it will never truly be empty as Blanchard and her husband’s spirit will forever roam the empty barn.
“Times we had here were great I mean all we wanted to do growing up is come up here and whether it was playing football outside hockey on the pond or basketball here we just had a great time those memories won’t go away and things we’ll cherish no matter what,” Kane added.