The Wall of Gaylord – Riding a Unicycle and other Mediocre Accomplishments

My athletic accomplishments would look like this


I wrote most of this story more than two years ago but didn’t finish until now.  I held off I guess because I felt I was self defeating. But hey, every single aspect, minute or major, of everything that’s occurred in our lives, goes into the making of who we are as adults.  I promised to make an honest attempt to document all my moments of growing up, so here I go.

As a kid, I didn’t have the type of parent that today as an adult I consider “involved”.  I never played Little League or Babe Ruth baseball.  I wasn’t in the Cub Scouts. I never had a music instrument lesson.  I never had YMCA swimming lessons.  I was never in the Hamilton Mini Circus. Heck, we never even had vacations except to drive to Vincennes, IN to see relatives.

In third grade I asked my dad to let me join Cub Scouts – He made fun of it.  That made a really huge impact on me. It was the very first time that I asked to be part of a ‘team’ and how was I received?  I was laughed at, like it was a sissy activity.  But I’m not going to harp on my dad anymore – it’s all done and through hard work, dedication and a positive outlook, life has been relatively favorable to me.

My bio dad didn’t get me involved in anything while living on Goodman Ave.  After Goodman, we moved into the Prytania neighborhood. While the Goodman kid-dom was organized around outdoor Millikin Woods activities, Prytania was sports oriented.  I remember even the first time we drove through the alley before buying the house and seeing the pickup basketball game going on at Beckman’s hoop.  Shortly after moving to Prytania, my parents divorced (link).  The timing was perfect for my missing organized sports and you might detect a longing in my writing if you’ve been reading my stories because I really regret not being able to play on a sports team when I was young.  All three of my brothers got to participate in Little League so that was good and I’m happy for them.

Fifth grade was a total blur, the worst year of elementary school for me.  Little did I know that my future wife sat in a classroom just down the hall from my class and yet I wasn’t to officially meet her for another five years.  When I was in sixth grade, our school, (stinkin’ Lincoln), got a new gym teacher.  His name was Jim Smith. Mr. Smith had come in from another elementary system where he had helped to organize extra curricular physical education activities – they were known as the Harrison Flip Twisters.

This was the only reference to the Flip Twisters that I could find without paying into an archive.

The Flip Twisters were fairly well known in the southwestern Ohio region during the 60’s.  They were based out of Harrison Elementary School in Hamilton and were a gymnastics-based group of kids who would do weekend shows at things like parades, county fairs, maybe the zoo, etc.  They had various routines like special jump roping and tumbling routines, a talented bunch of kids.  When Mr. Smith came to Lincoln, he announced that he wanted to do something similar at Lincoln, only bigger.

MUCH Bigger!


And so, the Hamilton Mini Circus was born.  I seem to have several regrets in life, or better to say ‘from childhood’, as not being part of the Mini Circus is yet one more regret on my list of things I did not play a part in. Once I got a start as a very young child in not participating in activities, it became part of my persona so naturally when Mr. Smith began recruiting kids for the Mini Circus, I would not step up.  I recognize the fallout from this behavior in myself today; I’m happy by myself and if you aren’t making an attempt to foster our relationship, then we end up not having one.  I have a need to be drawn out, encouraged.

Back to the Mini Circus.  All of my siblings however were very involved and a few years Mr. Smith left the school, my step father Joe and Ted (somebody, don’t recall his last name), stepped up to keep the circus going for several more years.  I was not part of the Mini Circus so I’m not going to write anything further about it – I’m not going to act like I was a part of something I wasn’t but for those involved, it was a great organized activity and the kids who were involved must all have some really special memories.  Given my siblings’ involvement, I did end up attending quite a number of their events… a spectator.

If you have Facebook, then check out the old pics and 8mm movies on this link.  It was quite a special time.

Not being involved in anything during the pre-adult years is a very large regret for me – no Little League, no school sports, no drama club, nothing.  For the longest of time, I used to think that there was something wrong with me, like it was all my fault that I felt isolated and that I was never a part of an organized team as a child.  I am a very analytical person and even today I continue to think about my actions and behaviors in hope of gaining greater self-awareness.  At some point in life I realized that it was not my fault that I didn’t have the benefit of going to camp or playing Little League…or even for not being a part of the Mini Circus.

Once I began playing sports at Prytania in the pick up games and all throughout adulthood, I worked/played extra hard at sports, so hard that I broke my leg playing coed softball at the age of 39 and that was the end of all running sports. (Link) This was the beginning of golf for me and it was also the beginning of my thinking about what I wanted to accomplish in the balance of my life.  Nine weeks out of work with most time being confined to a bed tends to help provide perspective.

I kept busy at P&G

I believe I began turning the corner in the year 2000 during my drive home from a Sylvan Testing Center immediately after passing the final test for my CMA certification.  Not a year had gone by since graduating high school in 1976 where I was not working on something related to professional skills.  As I was driving home I was thinking to myself – this is it!  No more degrees, no more certifications, it’s time to do something for “me”.  (Little did I know I would later cause myself to develop vertigo from the stress related to studying for another certification).

I have had tunes pop into my head since I was young and I just thought that happened to everyone.  So during my ride home after my test, I decided that I wanted to learn piano or guitar so I could maybe write songs, capture those tunes.

Here’s a link to lyrics for one I’m proud of (I have 2-3 that might not cause bleeding of the ears).

Today I am still not very good in a larger group of people who I am not very familiar with on an individual level.  If I am allowed to play a character, (like singing in front of people or acting in a skit), I am much better and actually enjoy the attention.  I think that’s why I like writing these stories – I have always enjoyed making people laugh, or more specifically, entertaining others.  I keep thinking perhaps one day in retirement I might try my hand at community theater; that sounds like fun but I better hurry as time is running out.

Alright, so I didn’t get decent early coaching – big deal.  Things could have been so much worse.  I could have ended up without the use of my arms and legs, (or brain), from the bus accident.  Luckily, I do have a few personal ‘glory days’ memories and look at me now – I’m entertaining you, aren’t I? (I sure hope so)

Link to a fun time at work:

I have grown to believe that each of us should celebrate our accomplishments, no matter how tiny they may seem when compared to others. — So yes, I once scored 40 points in a church league basketball game. My high school senior basketball intramural team went all the way to the final game (we lost by 2 in overtime).

I have a 279 bowling game and won a number of Bowling Congress patches.  I was an ok softball player and had  many seasons where I hit .700, including my very last at-bat which was an inside the park homer, (I once was very fast).  I came in second place one year in my racquetball league.  After taking up golf in ’98 I now have 2 holes-in-one and a hole-in-3 (first one in the water, re-tee in the cup).  I even broke 80 once (yea me).  Oh and don’t even think about challenging me at Stratego.

I was never in the Hamilton Mini Circus.  I was never in Little League.  I never participated in anything in high school, nothing.  I have had a wonderfully exciting working career.  I have a great and healthy family.  I can walk on stilts, use a pogo stick, juggle 3 balls and yes….I can still ride a unicycle (my wife can too).

My blog stories sometimes end up being self analysis.  Today’s lesson is about acceptance, learning who we are and how we got here and about moving forward into the future.  Your own childhood might look much darker than mine or maybe you were lucky to be born into wealth?  Our own birthplace and family is not something we have any control over.  What I think is important though is to recognize that our environments and all our experiences contribute to who we are now and in the future.  We should all try to focus on positive energy, expand our learning and find what makes us happy.

Although I’m not currently writing anymore crappy songs, I continue to get tunes in my head now and again.  I’m in a new chapter of life, one of retirement from the full time rat race, one of part time work activity and part time discretionary activities.  No matter what phase I’m in, no matter what phase of life you are in……let’s promise each other to celebrate life and to keep growing up….to keep celebrating our own Walls of Gaylord!

2 comments on “The Wall of Gaylord – Riding a Unicycle and other Mediocre Accomplishments

  1. Bob Stanger says:

    Rob, this is a great story. I would love to reconnect with you.

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