Christmas without Ordie Alley.
His name is actually Ordman Alley, Sr., and on March 23rd of this year, he died. It was a sad day for me, and continues, and as Christmas approaches, I can’t help but look back. On the Island, he was Ordman, but for some reason, those of us from “away” saw fit to call him Ordie. Ordie was born in Beals, Maine, which is an islands town in Washington County, located primarily on the islands of Beals and Great Wass. The population was 508 in 2010, Maine has a population of 1.3 million, and Washington County hosts 31,379 of that total. I say that to say this: Ordie came from a small town in a small county in a small state. But there is nothing small about their love for basketball DownEast, and Ordie was definitely a lovable basketball player with a lovable personality to match.
Yours truly was born in Washington County, but moved away when I was three years old to the Maine metropolis (really?) of Auburn-Lewiston. (Something about my Dad needing to have a good job.) But after graduating from high school, I enrolled in the small teacher’s college in Washington County, appropriately named Washington State Teacher’s College, and that’s where I first had the pleasure of seeing Ordie;- not that he saw me! Ordie was one of the stars, actually “the star,” of the Washington State Clippers basketball team. He could shoot, drive, rebound, defend and score and he led all of New England in scoring his senior year. I’m not gay, but I was in love with Ordie Alley. He was a senior, I a freshman as I adored him from afar. Ordie graduated in 1964, and I got his Jersey number (#22) the next year as I transitioned from high school hockey to small, small, small college basketball. I only kept #22 for one year, as I couldn’t fill either Ordie’s shoes or his jersey. Ordie went on to play for the Beals Town Team, and when we played them one day, I somehow blocked one of his shots. Imagine the thrill when on the way back down the court, he said “Nice block, Jerry.” Ordie knew my name!
I owned property in Jonesport, which is mainland off Beals, the two being basically inseparable apart from the Moooseabec Reach situated between. Ordie became one of the greatest basketball coaches in the history of Maine, filling what came to be the Jonesport-Beals High trophy case with golden basketballs (over 600 victories, 9 State Championships, 13 Eastern Maine Titles and numerous "Coach of the Year" awards.) I cheered for him, got to be friends with him, coached against him at the old Bangor Auditorium (some nicknamed it the “Ordie-torium” because of his successes there) and visited with him on my yearly pilgrimages DownEast. I was aboard the Donna Faye, he came to hear me preach on The Island, we talked about God and shared our faith, and he brought lobster (along with his wife) to my place the day I hosted Maine’s two greatest basketball coaches ever, Ordie and Roger Reed, who was also an ardent Ordie fan.
And then, last summer, I visited his grave on Beals. The Covid played its part in denying what would have been a huge service celebrating Ordie’s life, and the marker had yet to be placed, but I knew the small cemetery, as Ordie and I had driven the Island together, viewing the family’s resting places as Ordie gave me his and Beals’ oral history from Manwarren Beal on down. Within the intertwined branches of the sprawling Jonesport-Beals genealogy tree, Ordie and I were physically related (everybody down there is) and we were also related via the New Birth and the Blood of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. I miss him. Heaven is the better for it, down here and DownEast, the worse. We live, we love, and we experience heartache and loss, but thank the LORD we sorrow not as others which have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). There is coming a Day when it will not be….
Christmas without Ordie Alley.
Love to all,