Life Lessons in Junior High Gym Class

Pick Me, Pick Me!

Pick Me, Pick Me!

In Junior high, was there anything more humiliating, scary and so full of life lessons than the gym class?  By the time I hit high school, they had renamed it Physical Education.  Physical Education is a much better term because we received education in so many valuable lessons and life skills; life skills that we would apply in our everyday world.  I’m of course talking about things like learning how to propel myself up a 30 foot rope made of horsehair and then there was the lesson about how to obtain the self-inflicted rope burns on the inside of our thighs.  The intention of this lesson, of course, was to teach us methods of applying Vaseline to ourselves or to learn how to walk like cowboys.  I remember how proud I was the day I figured out that I could climb the rope in gym (hint: if you had skinny arms like me, the trick was to have clean sneakers able to grab the rope so your legs could do the work). Continue reading

Glory Days On the Intramural Basketball Team – Learning about Diversity

well they'll pass you by in the wink of a young girl's eye

well they’ll pass you by in the wink of a young girl’s eye

Yeah, just sitting back trying to recapture a little of the glory of, well time slips away and leaves you with nothing mister but boring stories of glory days

– Bruce Springsteen

Compared to most boys, I got a late start in the world of playing sports.  As a younger child on Goodman Avenue, our parents didn’t encourage involvement in organized team sports.  Hell, my dad didn’t even let me join Cub Scouts, for crying out loud.  I got my introduction to sports when we moved to the land of 60 kids (read me); the 500 block of Ridgelawn and Prytania.  With St Peters church only a block away, our block was predominately a Catholic neighborhood – translation, lots of kids and they did love their sports. Continue reading

Bucking the Pecking Order


In all neighborhood kiddoms, there was a well established pecking order which was very simple to follow – grade level.  It had been established hundreds of years ago and it helped to maintain order in the alley.  Being the oldest didn’t necessarily mean you were the strongest in the alley, but we all respected the chain of command where it came to arguments or a minor shoving match.  Never, I repeat, never did I ever witness anyone breaking this rule in the Prytania alley.  The only exceptions were family fights.  Following this rule helped us make sense of the world (and prevented riots).  Continue reading