The basketball hoop in front of Billy Loyd’s house was the epicenter of the southeast Portland neighborhood where Billy and Manny Saban and Bobby Goodall and their various siblings spent much of the second half of the 1970s. No one remembers how it came to be there, but it remains there today, like a monument to lost boyhood, its chain-metal net hanging scrappily from the hoop on a pole stuck firmly into the concrete.
Manny lived around the corner, toward the Dairy Queen on Duke Street. Bobby lived a block or so from there. His backyard was connected to Billy’s by an unpaved alleyway underneath two big...