Claudia Myers column: A jock I’m not – Duluth News Tribune

When I was growing up, there was a group of kids of all ages that hung out together in my neighborhood in upstate New York. It was a semi-rural area, a new development adjoining a farm. In the winter we would team up for snowball fights and sleigh rides down the hilly, rarely traveled road. In the summer we played hide-and-seek, baseball on vacant lots, and roamed the woods that supposedly stretched as far as Pennsylvania.

Although I was the youngest of the bunch and also a girl, I wasn’t a squeamish little girl. I could pick night owls and carve an arrow with my pocket knife like any 12-year-old boy. But I wasn’t what you would 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 anyone who ended up with me on their team was compensated in some way, that is: extra clubs, handicap points, maybe even cookies, because no question they would to lose. You may be wondering why they didn’t just shoo me away and not let me play? Because they were nice kids, that’s why.

That black cloud followed me through high school, where I was the girl in gym class who ran to the soccer ball, tripped over it, and fell. Yes, that was me, in the baggy one-piece tracksuit. You remember the: navy blue, pulled up front, one size fits all! We tried very hard to fix it by sneaking things into class: a nice little stretchy belt, a pretty silk scarf tied under the collar, some glittery pins.

But no, the sharp-eyed gym teacher, Miss Gianetti, was watching the door and you went back. “No nonsense – you go around the track four times – Gianetti.”

Back then, believe it or not, women still played half-court basketball. It was explained that women could not walk long enough or far enough to cover the entire square. We’ve been huge fans of the University of Minnesota Duluth women’s hockey team since they started, and let me tell you, these women could skate 43 miles up and down, back and forth and still had plenty of steam left to go to wear 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 the thing about “glowing” instead of sweating. We (big generalization, here) didn’t run, lift weights, do aerobics, or even swim laps Just for the exercise. What a stupid thought. And by and large we were pretty skinny until we were over 45 when we got “fat”.

We walked to get somewhere and usually carried something: groceries, books, a child. We swam for fun and to show off how good we looked in our new swimsuit. We mowed the lawn and dug in the garden, maybe played a bit of tennis or badminton, but not to get our pulses racing. The only people I knew who ran with determination every day, rain or shine, were on the running team, and they were usually boys. It was fun watching them. They sweat.

But did you know that in my hometown in 1955 cheerleaders could get an exemption from gym class? I guess they thought cheerleading was enough exercise for a girl.

So I practiced and practiced and miraculously made it onto the team. I had friends on the squad who could do somersaults, handstands and cartwheels. Whoa, not me! But I was a loud screamer. I could jump up and down, wave my arms and did just fine until I tripped and fell over the side benches, sprained my ankle and had to be carried off the field by the soccer team. heh

It’s easy to see that I didn’t inherit the sporting skills of my father – he, who bowled in tournaments and played in several golf leagues. But I started golf anyway. What could happen to me in the vastness of a golf course? And I could go out and do “boy stuff” with my dad instead of staying at home sewing potholders and sweaters for my dog. Also, it was refreshing to be on the manicured course with the beautiful trees, ponds, sand pockets, and cute little bridges.

trees right? Yes, I am in!

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

Water hazard right behind the climb? Flop!

When my father refused to play golf with me because he said I had the worst “banana ball” he had ever seen, I gave up and sold the clubs.

But everyone is good at something, right? To me? Bowling! I know, hard to believe. But I was able to move everything in the right direction at the right time, aiming my atom red marbled 14lb ball and Pow at that spot just to the right of the header pin! So much fun!

Until my arthritic thumbs started dropping the ball behind me. Having your teammates quickly move behind the benches each time it’s your turn tends to take the fun out of you. Abandoned, sold the ball. Back to dog sweaters.

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

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 local antiques dealer specializing in Persian rugs.

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