Things That Our P.E. Teacher Loathed
Phys Ed: Fair is fair
My last hub was about the Home Ec class when I was a sophomore in high school in the year 1970. But as a gesture of truth and respect, I have to give equal-publicity to another "horror" we had to face in junior high school: Physical Education classes.
From 1961 until 1967 I never had to worry in the least about doing physical exercises while at school. We called that part of our curriculum, "recess." And it was more fun than watching an episode of "Mountain Monsters," on the American Destination Channel on DirecTV.
Phys Ed: A junior high "monster"
I suppose in my first year of junior high, 1967, when our homeroom teacher, Mrs. Lena Rae Shotts, a gentle soul, told us that according to the State of Alabama Dept. of Education, it was "mandatory," for us to take Physical Ed classes. No way around it. Got to do it. That verbiage was what scared me until my insides turned into banana-flavored Jell-O.
Among the problems facing my class and I was we had no Alabama state-approved P.E. uniforms. Our school system "sold" them to us at $10--a pop. And we had to purchase our own tennis shoes. Mine were white high-tops just like the NBA legends of that time. For a seventh-grader, I looked quite the "Mac Daddy of P.E. class."
To get right to the point, our first day of P.E. was horrible. Having to do exercises with names like: "Side Straddle Hop," which I thought was a sexual term; "Toe Touches," and the all-American heart-pumping exercise, "Push up's," that I swore was ice cream on a stick that we were to be given as rewards for us not screwing-up.
My eyes were quickly opened
Our P.E. teacher was Hamilton High's head football coach, L.C. Fowler, who could have passed for a Marine drill instructor easily. The sadistic drill instructor in "Full Metal Jacket," R. Lee Irmy reminds me of coach Fowler a lot, but without all of the cursing. Fowler was deep into religion. But tough is not the word. Well it is the word, but I cannot think of a word that is more powerful. He was tough not just in body, but mind and character. In short, we feared for our lives when we were in P.E.
"Is this how it's gonna be from now until we graduate in 1972?" I asked a buddy when our first P.E. class was dismissed.
My buddy was too tired from running "wind sprints" in the gymnasium to answer. Sleeping for me was tough that night. And many nights from that night forward.
But thank God, I learned. And quickly, I might add. It was really simple on how to get along with coach Fowler. If I did not do any of the things he hated, and showed him that I was trying, I would "be in like Flynn." But knowing what things Fowler hated was a task to discover, but with time I did. And here are
Things That Our P.E. Teacher Loathed
- Guys with long hair trying hard to look like a member of The Beach Boys.
- Lazy guys who loved to loaf-around and "pretend" to follow his instructions.
- For us to severely-lust for the varsity cheerleaders who were practicing their routines in the gym while we were doing our "Side Straddle Hops."
- Chewing gum while in P.E. class. And if we were busted, it was "Big Red" for us.
- Walking on our new gym floor with street shoes. And if we were busted, yep. "Big Red" again.
- Sneaking outside the gymnasium to have a smoke (cigarette) with buddies.
- Sneaking into the new weight room downstairs from the gym to cut coach Fowler's P.E. class. Many times, he would just call roll and turn the class over to a senior, Jimmy Gregg, who was in our class and he never took notice of who was left after roll call or who left to work on weights.
- Talking with what few cheerleaders would notice us. Coach Fowler hated that with a passion.
- Eating snacks that we would sneak into P.E. This too was grounds to meet "Big Red" again and let me tell you that corn chips hidden inside your gym shorts is one annoying thing to hide. When you perform the "Side Straddle Hop," you and those hopping and straddling to each side of you can hear that distinctive crunch, crunch, crunch. Then you feel their eyes looking at you as if you were a demon.
- Fake excuses to get out of doing those stupid exercises. Plus, coach Fowler had this sneaking-suspicion that "we" wrote our own excuses. I didn't. I feared him too much. I thought about it. But never had the nerve.
- Fist-fighting with guys who didn't like each other. Fowler had the remedy for this: Have the two fighters put on the gloves and have at it on the gymnasium stage. The upside was we didn't exercise or play the obligatory game of basketball when a fight was happening and we got to see a few good bloody noses.
- Trying not to take a shower after P.E. class. Coach Fowler was among his strengths, a "clean freak," and let us know it if he ever saw a spot of dirt on our gym shorts or shoes.
Finale: I swore in my heart during those P.E. classes that one day I would not have to endure such unneeded punishment from a grown man, a head football coach who taught physical education and had a protruding mid-section.
This dream came true. Now I am the one with a protruding mid-section.
" My thinking of physical education and the getting in shape is that by the time we are in great shape, it is too late to enjoy it."— Ken Avery (Me)
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