ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Claudia Myers column: A jock I'm not

Maybe we just didn’t like running. Maybe we just didn’t feel like running. In the 1950s, most women didn’t sweat, you know.

Claudia Myers col sig.jpg
Claudia Myers

When I was growing up, there was a group of kids of all ages who hung together in my upstate New York neighborhood. It was a semi-rural area, a new development backed up to a farm. In the winter, we’d gang-up with snowball fights and sled down the hilly, seldom-used street. In the summer, we’d play hide-and-seek, vacant-lot baseball, and roam in the woods that, supposedly, went all the way to Pennsylvania.

Even though I was the youngest in the bunch and a girl besides, I wasn’t a prissy little girl. I could pick nightcrawlers and whittle an arrow with my pocket knife as well as any 12-year-old boy. But, I wasn’t what you’d call athletic “draft material” either. I was always the very last one picked for our baseball games. Always.

That was bad enough, but there was an unspoken rule that whoever wound up with me on their team got compensated in some fashion, that is: extra bats, handicap points, maybe even cookies, because no question, they were going to lose. You might ask why they didn’t just shoo me away, not let me play? Because they were nice kids, that’s why.

This black cloud followed me to high school, where I was the girl in gym class who would run up to the soccer ball, trip over it and fall down. Yup, that was me, in the baggy, one-piece gym suit. You remember those: navy blue, snapped up the front, one-size-fits-most! We tried really hard to fix them up, sneaking stuff into class: a nice little stretchy belt, a pretty silk scarf knotted under the collar, couple sparkly scatter pins.

But noooooo, the sharp-eyed gym teacher, Miss Gianetti, policed the door and back you went. “No Nonsense-Out You Go-Four Times Around the Track-Gianetti.”

ADVERTISEMENT

In those days, believe it or not, women were still playing half-court basketball. It was explained that women could run neither long enough nor far enough to cover the full court. We’ve been big fans of the University of Minnesota Duluth women’s hockey team since they started, and let me tell you, those women could skate 43 miles up and down, back and forth and still have enough steam left to get dressed up for a rock concert.

Maybe we just didn’t like running. Maybe we just didn’t feel like running. In the 1950s, most women didn’t sweat, you know. There was that thing about “glowing” rather than sweating. We (big generalization, here) didn’t run, lift weights, do aerobics or even swim laps just for the exercise. What a silly thought. And by and large, we were pretty thin, until we were over 45, when we became “stout.”

We did our walking to get somewhere, usually carrying something: groceries, books, a kid. We swam for pleasure and to show off how good we looked in our new swimsuit. We mowed the lawn and dug in the garden, maybe played a little tennis or badminton, but not to get our heart rates up. The only people I knew who ran with purpose, every day, rain or shine, were on the track team and usually boys. They were fun to watch. They sweated.

However, did you know that in 1955, in my hometown, you could get excused from gym class if you were a cheerleader? I guess they figured cheerleading was enough exercise for a girl.

So, I practiced and practiced and miraculously made the team. I had friends on the squad who could do flips, handstands and cartwheels. Whoa, not me! But, I was a loud yeller. I could jump up and down, wave my arms and so I did just fine, until I tripped and fell over the sideline benches, sprained my ankle and had to get carried off the field by the football team. Heh.

It's easy to see that I hadn’t inherited my dad’s athletic abilities — he who bowled in tournaments and played in several golf leagues. But, I took up golf anyway. What could happen to me in the wide open spaces of a golf course? And I could get out and do “guy stuff” with my dad, instead of staying home making potholders and making sweaters for my dog. Besides, it was refreshing to be out on the manicured course with the beautiful trees, ponds, sandy pockets and cute little bridges.

Trees on the right? Yep, I’m there!

Sand trap to the right of the green? Whoosh, ka-dunk, ka-dunk.

ADVERTISEMENT

Water hazard just over the rise? Plop!

When my dad refused to play golf with me anymore, saying I had the worst “banana ball” he’d ever seen, I gave it up and sold the clubs.

But, everybody’s good at something, right? Me? Bowling! I know, hard to believe. But I could get everything moving in the right direction at the right time, zero in on that spot just to the right of the head pin with my atomic-red, marbleized, 14-pound ball and pow! So much fun!

Until my arthritic thumbs started dropping the ball behind me. When your team members quickly move behind the benches every time you stand up for your turn, it does tend to take the fun out. Gave it up, sold the ball. Back to sweaters for the dog.

Next time: Everybody’s junk is someone’s antique.

Read more from Claudia Myers
First of all, it's impossible to organize your entire life all at once. It's too enormous an undertaking for anybody. You’ll just give up.

Claudia Myers is a former costume designer for The Baltimore Opera, Minnesota Ballet and has taught design and construction at the College of St. Scholastica. She is a national award-winning quilter, author and a local antique dealer, specializing in Persian rugs.

Related Topics: FAMILY
Claudia Myers is a former costume designer for The Baltimore Opera, Minnesota Ballet and has taught design and construction at the College of St. Scholastica. She is a national award-winning quilter, author and a local antique dealer, specializing in Persian rugs.
What To Read Next
The reason I’m concerned about the current classified documents imbroglio is that I might have a few of those “TOP SECRET” manuals left over from my military days stored in my garage.
This week, gardening columnist Don Kinzler fields questions about planting potatoes, rabbit-resistant shrubs, and how to prevent tomato blossom end rot.
Trends include vegetable gardens in raised pods and a continuing surge in using native plants and grasses.
Roger Hill, owner of The Snake Pit, had his first tarantula at 12. “We weren’t interested in sports. We were interested in keeping animals and raising animals, but nothing normal,” he recalled.