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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
Monday, July 16 2001

Too late smart

At a church barbecue yesterday a fellow parishioner mentioned that in his youth he was a total klutz and became more athletic in his adult years. This seemed apropos to me, too. I was always so fearful of the censure of my peers that often I'd decline to try anything that might result in failure rather than risk being ridiculed. And despite my caution, there were the obligatory gym classes that got me plenty of ridicule (at least in my perception) anyway. I commented in reply to my fellow parishioner that if I'd seen a sports blooper show when I was a kid it might have changed my life. If I'd known that even professional athletes often do stupid things like get hit by balls rather than catch them I'd have probably been willing to take more risks.

I loved swimming and one reason was that I could teach myself at my own pace. There was, of course, no swim team to worry about in the Valley in my school years and I never even thought of swimming as a team effort. Even diving was something I could try alone in the Y pool in Johnstown (or "cannonballing" from a tree limb into Adams Crossing or BAB) without having to fear censure. (In retrospect, it seems a dangerous proposition, trying to dive with no one to witness it, as diving is so dangerous that most pools no longer have diving boards. In those days, most any teen could do a triple somersault from the Ebensburg pool diving board, and such pools had both low and high diving boards to learn on.)

I would never have tried out for track if there'd been a team at my high school, because I'd not have been able to stand coming in at the end of the competition. But as soon as I moved to New Jersey I joined the Y and ran the indoor track at my own pace where no one cared if I could even run the banked track eight times (I couldn't, at first), when a mere mile was 27 laps. At Stanford, I was running an easy two miles every evening in my 30's, but never had anyone join me or accompany me in my workout.

I tend to blame my father, who never threw a ball to me or encouraged any game playing. But I suspect that the truth is that he probably had the same limitation. Unlike me, who am the runt of my family of four boys, he was at least six feet tall, and from my earliest recollections he was very strong. But I suspect that he never got to play sports in his youth (working in the brickyard already from age 14) and felt inadequate to the task of teaching his sons to compete. Brother Bob recalls that Dad wouldn't allow either of the older boys to go out for basketball at Vintondale High School because he required them to work on digging out a basement under the house every afternoon as soon as school was out. He did, however, encourage Gary to play football when he was at Blacklick High, and the third son did make the team there. I do not, however, remember my parents ever attending any school games.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Some tests to give yourself before starting a family
(collect 'em all)

Those of you who already have kids can relate! Some of these might make you cry. For those just considering having kids, this might make you think twice. Either way, enjoy. . .Zan

DRESSING TEST Obtain one large, unhappy, live octopus. Stuff into a small net bag make sure that all the arms stay inside.

AUTOMOBILE TEST Forget the BMW and buy a station wagon. Buy a chocolate ice cream cone and put it in the glove compartment. Leave it there. Stick a dime into the cassette player. Take a family-size package of chocolate chip cookies; mash them into the back seat. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car. There, perfect.

Sent by Zan


We are too soon old and too late smart.

Pennsylvania Dutch proverb

From a tourist souvenir plaque
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