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I wrote a series of articles talking about the days of my youth. I talked about my days with the Pool Gang in the 1960s in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Now I thought I would reminisce a bit about my days in high school. This will also have to be more than one post. I went to Elmer L. Meyers High School from September 1962 to June 1968. Meyers High is a combined junior and senior high school. In those days, I never heard of a separate junior high, or middle school. I was from the hill and I felt a bit out of place going to Meyers. We lived on the border between the Meyers and GAR districts and a lot of my friends went to GAR.
I was not very outgoing as a kid so I didn’t make friends easily. I had written about my mother and how she worked miracles with very little money. I was never dressed shabbily, but my clothes were bargain basement and didn’t match the styles of the day. I must say that my discomfort and shyness was never caused by anything done to me. I never got nasty looks. There were no mumbles or giggles behind my back. The kids were at worst indifferent as I was to them. If I was isolated going to Meyers, it was all on me. My focus was never in school, it was always on the hill with the boys.
Despite my shyness and lack of social skills, there were kids that went out of their way to be friendly and I appreciated that. One fellow was named Bruce. We couldn’t be more different but that didn’t matter. He was a funny guy and I remember him telling me how he hated to go to Hebrew School. He did go because he was a good kid and very smart. There were also kids that I knew from grade school so it’s not like I sat in the corner all by myself.
I didn’t get into many things at Meyers but I did join the gymnastics team right in seventh grade and I stayed on it until I graduated. The team was coached by Mr. John Nagle, one of the gym teachers and a health teacher. I have to mention he first name because, at the time at Meyers, the other boy’s gym teacher was Toby Nagle. John Nagle was known as a bit of a character. He was an older man and close to retirement by the time I graduated. I believe that teaching health was something that he was required to do and he did it in a very interesting way. I do remember getting caught messing around in his health class. In those days messing around in class meant, if you were a boy, getting the paddle. Let’s see if any of my old classmates remember this little poem. Since I was on the gym team, old John made me touch my toes when he paddled me and he made me recite the standard paddle poem.
I know me name.
I know my mind.
I know that I,
stick out behind.
Maybe someone, not of our generation, will be shocked at corporal punishment, but it never did me any lasting harm. It actually became kind of a badge of honor to get paddled now and then. If we were late for school, we had a choice of an hour detention after school or the paddle. I thought it was a no brainer. I took the paddle every time. The paddle stung for a few minutes, detention lasted for a whole hour.
I digress; I was talking about the gym team. The gym team seemed to attract the kids from the hill. My older brother joined the year before. We had two friends named Bill on the team. Billy Jones was one of the best athletes I had seen in my years at Meyers. In addition to gymnastics, he did many other sports including being an excellent running back. Bill Van Why and his brother Tom had been my friends for years. The requirement to make the gym team was to be able to do a hand spring. That was no problem for me because my brother and the two Bills had me doing hand springs in the field when I was in sixth grade.
This is a picture of the gym team. I believe I was in eighth grade in this picture. I’m the tallest one in the first row. There is Dan in the second row. Dan had commented on several of my posts. I’m sorry Dan that I didn’t mention before that we were gym team mates. You can also see my brother Tony, Billy Jones, and the brothers Bill and Tom Van Why. The gym team was just about my favorite place in school.
This is definitely a multi-post subject. I feel like I’m just getting started but I don’t want to make this too long. It will be continued.