After interviewing and writing the life histories of hundreds of people I have found that children and grandchildren love to read about their parents and grandparents exploits regardless of how seemingly insignificant they might seem, at least to us!
Their years in high school seem to be the most fun to read about. We all attended high school and have our own memories of those years. However, for some reason, we can’t think of our parents going to high school! What did they do? Did they date much? Did they play sports? Were they academically minded?
These are all questions we often wonder about. In many cases, by the time we want to know it is too late! By writing your life story you can answer these questions. Our blog this week will focus on sports in high school. Your social life will be discussed in a future blog post.
The following stories have been gathered from interviews and books we have written in the past.
One guy who graduated high school in 1959 attended a brand new school, with very few athletic facilities while he was a student there:
The athletic facilities weren’t completed yet [brand new school] so we didn’t have a football field yet, it hadn’t been planted yet. We had a football team and it was sophomores and sophomores only. We couldn’t compete with the other high schools. We played but it always ended badly. We were young and soft but we toughened up in a hurry.
We grew up fast in the athletic program. We had a track team so I was on the track team and the football team. We were in such good shape because after school we just practiced like crazy. We played a lot during the games because there weren’t that many guys. We had a quarterback, Gary Sergeant, that was pretty skillful and then we had some big guys that were pretty good on the offensive line.
I was inexperienced. I played right guard at one hundred and thirty-five pounds. It was just pathetic. As a result of being one hundred and thirty-five pounds, I played third string. I really enjoyed being on the football team but basically, all I did was sit on the beach and ride on the bus. Then we were practice for the first string so that gave them confidence. The first string was pretty good for tenth graders only.
I had the cleanest uniform on the team because I never played. I ended up being on special teams. I was on the kickoff team. Our colors were black and white so the pants were white, the shirt was white so I remember when we warmed up I would always try to dig my knees into the grass and do some somersaults and get my shoulders down in the grass so I would have a few little grass stains on my uniform because I never got any grass stains in the game.
Another fellow I interviewed remembered his high school athletic program this way:
I went to East High. Most of the kids in our scout troop went there and we played football together. We had a good time. The year we were there we won every state title except basketball. We were third in the state in basketball. I was active in student affairs and other activities. I was active in football and track. I had some great teachers. The teacher that everyone seemed to like the best was Ms. Gorlinski. Whenever I came to class and had a scar on my face after a football game she would make a big thing of it. She taught us a lot and was well liked by all of the students. She taught physiology. I took Latin, history, physiology, and all the usual classes. We had a good student organization. I still pal around with a lot of the kids I knew from high school.
One person did not play sports in high school (he was a really good violin player) but talked about going to the school sports events:
Sometimes my friends and I would get together and go to high school sports games. We went to football and basketball games between Bassick and Central. They were the two big rivals in Bridgeport. They always played football on Thanksgiving Day.
Bassick and Harding played each other. They played Central too, and Central usually won. At the time Harding had a lot of black students and they would win. Central didn’t have that many blacks. [He was born in 1919]
This person who I interviewed was born in 1923 in southern Missouri, very poor growing up:
When I was young we made our own sports. That little school, they didn’t have enough boys to form teams to compete. We played what we called Shove Up. You would have to get seven, eight, or nine boys together and you would draw straws or something like that to see who would be at bat. Two of them would go to bat. The next straw you got would determine where you went in the field. There would be fielders and short stops and all the basemen, pitcher, catcher, and batters. Of course, your favorite spot was batter. If you made an out, you went out to left field. You had to work your way back up to bat. I think about the least you could play, you would need at least seven boys; it would be better if you had nine.
That is the way we played baseball, and boy, you did your best to hit the ball to get a home run, because you didn’t want to go out to left field. You’d rather bat. If a batter made an out, he went to left field, catcher went to bat, the pitcher went to catch and everybody rotated.
Every out they rotated; pretty soon you would be back to bat again. It was called Shove Up, and that was all over. Everybody played Shove Up. That was the extent of ball play. We didn’t have football around there. I had heard of football, but I guess it was too small of a town or school to have a team.
The following story was remembered by someone who wanted to be a coach when he grew up (he didn’t by the way):
All throughout high school, I was involved in sports, which consumed a lot of my time. My favorite teacher was George Pearson, my football coach. He also taught history and health. I became really good friends with him. After high school, we played baseball in an industrial league, so I spent a lot of time with George playing baseball.
One of the funniest things that I still think about happened when I was a junior in high school. Our high school gymnasium was built by the WPA right after WWII. It was probably the best basketball gymnasium in the state of Utah. It seated over two thousand people, which was very unusual, and BYU played their home games there. Everyone tried to get into the games, but we discovered a way from the high school, which was a quarter of a block away.
Our fathers and grandfathers will usually have some very revealing antidotes about sports they played in high school. It is interesting to note that during the 1940s – 1990s there were no girls’ sports teams. Our mothers and grandmothers usually were cheerleaders or on the pep-squad. Don’t forget to ask them about those experiences.