It must have been 1960 or maybe 1961 but I was in High school at Whiteland. At that time the only sports available were baseball and basketball. But, in 1961 they started a track team with Mr. Hyday as the coach. Never was sure if Mr. Hyday had any experience at coaching track but I went out for the team. Made the team as there weren’t too many to choose from and practice began. Track team practice at that time consisted of running and more running and run we did.
We only had 2 or 3 meets that 1st year and they were only against freshman teams at other schools that had track programs. Don’t think we won any meets but we had fun running. I ran the high hurdles, 440 and to my cringe the mile. Didn’t know about the mile until the night before the meet and I thought I’d die before the mile was completed. Not sure but I pretty much believe I was last in that race.
I will admit that I was probably pretty cocky at that time in my life like so many teen are, even today. In my mind I am sure I thought I was indeed the fasted runner on earth. We lived on a small farm and I had plenty of chores to do every day, before and after school. Feed the chickens (500)and gather the eggs, Feed the sheep(100) and make sure the cattle(10) and the ponies (3)and horse had food and water.
Now for the big race! It was a Sunday I’m sure and we had been visiting family and we had stayed probably too long because It was late when we got home and my dad for the first time I could remember offered to help do the chores. Wow, what an opportunity. I could see at that moment the great feeling I was going to have watching my dad do the chores because we were going to have a race.
I will now layout the race course for you. From the back door to the barnyard fence was about 30 feet and from the fence to the barn was about 150 feet. The fence was a three rail decorative fence that we had put chicken wire on the inside to keep the lambs from getting out. So simple and easy, I am the hurdler and I’ll be over that fence like a shot from a rifle and on my way to the barn before my dad even gets started.
The bet. So, being the smarty that I was I said, “Why don’t we race to the barn and the looser does all the chores.” And dad said,” OK go” and he was off. He was over the fence before I could get off my butt and start running. He was like a gazelle going over that fence and I about broke my neck going over the fence while watching him beat me to the barn. Needless to say I lost because when I got to the barn dad was setting there on a hay bale lighting a cigarette, smiling. And he said, “I guess you’ll be doing all the chores tonight.” I agreed to my loss and started feeding the show sheep in the barn.
As I was going about my business dad proceeded to tell me about his track experiences at Flatrock High School. Seems he set the Shelby count high jump record the stood for over 15 years and the high hurdle record that he thought might still stand at that time. He also told me that one needs to check out the competition before making wagers that could be painful. He was a good sport though and after finishing his smoke he did help finish the chores.
This was just one of the many things I learned from my dad. Now 60 years later I will do something and ask myself, how did you know how to do that and the answer is always; I guess dad showed me.
Thanks for listening,
The Crotchety Old Man