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Carol Perkins: Richard Duncan recalls 1950s HS gyms

'Our (Edmonton)gym was the best in the district and for several years, we hosted most of the district tournaments because we could seat the guests better than our fellow schools. Tompkinsville and Gamaliel were still high schools but with tiny gyms; Burkesville had used Marrowbone's gym after theirs burned but they would have one before I graduated, and Clinton County was still using their old gym, too, where Coach Castle was a legend to me as much as Ed Diddle was to others.' - CAROL PERKINS
The next earlier Carol Perkins column - Carol Perkins: Summer means baseball and softball in our area

By Carol Perkins

Richard Duncan, lifelong resident of Metcalfe County, was our guest on our radio show, Carol and Susan-Unscripted, on 99.1 FM, this week. He talked about growing up in the area, and especially the days when he played ball for Edmonton High School under Coach Ralph Reece . As Richard described the area high schools and their gyms during the late 50's, I pictured the one that was upstairs over a building where the ceilings were only eight feet high, and another where the dressing room was underground and the only way to reach it was through a trap door in the floor next to the coal burning stove. As I listened to his vivid descriptions of the various places, especially schools that no longer exist, I thought about how much better off we are today than we were then, even though we are prone to complain about hard times.


My memory of school accommodations was that the buildings were all run-down and smelled of oil, coal, and sweaty bodies. I never attended classes my first eight years in a nice facility. However, I never knew any better. In other counties, schools were much like our own. When we had ball games at Temple Hill, Hiseville, Austin Tracy, Cub Run, and all those other places, none of them were any better off than we were.

By the time I was ready for high school in 1960, our new Metcalfe County High School was three years old and going to school there was like spending a week at the Waldorf (I imagine). Clean rooms, new desks, latest equipment, large cafeteria that smelled fresh (eventually they all smell like cooked onions mixed with pinto beans), and a pristine library.

Our gym was the best in the district and for several years, we hosted most of the district tournaments because we could seat the guests better than our fellow schools. Tompkinsville and Gamaliel were still high schools but with tiny gyms; Burkesville had used Marrowbone's gym after theirs burned but they would have one before I graduated, and Clinton County was still using their old gym, too, where Coach Castle was a legend to me as much as Ed Diddle was to others.

Richard described how riding the bus was not offered to everyone as it is now. The bus traveled the main roads so if parents wanted their kids to attend "town" school, they had to bring them to the road or kids had to walk to the main road. The reason for the limited bus routes probably had to do with lack of money for buses, but also because most secondary roads were gravel or dirt in the 50's. During bad weather, a bus simply couldn't get in and out of places.

We talked about the fact that some grade schools didn't have gyms, so when we went to their schools for "away" games, our boys played on outdoor basketball courts. Of course, there were no bleachers for parents and the only yard chairs did not fold, so spectators stood around the court and watched.

Back then most teachers in the "outer buildings" kept the rooms warm with coal burning stoves. Shoving coal or going for a bucket of coal to the coal room often became one of the "big" boy's jobs.

Back then young people worked on the farm or had jobs in town. Therefore, weight lifting was not necessary (weights were bales of hay) and every young man, by the time he was a senior, was a man instead of a boy. Life was hard but everyone was struggling the same.

When I think of all the changes I have seen, there isn't a time in the past that has been better than the present. Not that we don't have major issues, but we had them back then, too. We are quick to say, "Back in my day..." Back in my day was filled with fun and happiness and freedom to roam, but I wouldn't go back. "In my day" life might have seemed better, but maybe the older I get the better it seems.

(Carol & Susan-Unscripted airs live each Tuesday on 99.1 FM Radio, Edmonton, KY, from 10am-12pmCT and a repeat show on Sunday from 4pm-6pmCT. You are invited to listen to their guest Richard Duncan this Sunday.)


This story was posted on 2013-06-30 05:45:26
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