OFF T0 NTHS

HIGHSCHOOL
(ROBERT L. YOUNG DECEMBER 1996)
IN THE FALL OF 1939, I ENTERED NEOGA HIGHSCHOOOL. I HAD GROWN RAPIDLY AND AT 5 FT 10 IN 180 POUNDS WAS BIGGER THAN MOST OF MY CLASSMATES. I TOOK ENGLISH, HISTORY, MATH AND AT MY MOTHER'S INSISTENCE LATIN. I HAD EXCELLENT TEACHERS WITH LATIN AS THE HARDEST WITH A LOT OF HOMEWORK BUT A LOT OF HELP FROM MOM WHO HAD TAUGHT HIGHSCHOOL LATIN.

I much enjoyed an association with a fine
faculty and staff. Mr. Duncan was a principal of the old school variety and ran a tight and proper ship. Albert Martin taught courses well that were very useful to me in my engineering career and it was he who noticed me in a noon basketball game and asked me to come out to practice with the team in late Novermber, 1939. Rowena and I wish to pay special tribute to Miss Irene Ruecklos. She was a very proper and demanding English teacher who expected the best. We continue to benefit from her instruction and in particular in engineering studies at the University of Illinois and Northwestern University I found her courses in English enabled me to compete well with graduates of much bigger public high schools and private high schools with big reputations.

At the start of basketball practice in my Sophomore year Coach Fulton noted that I was shooting my right handed jump shot off of the wrong leg. He also selected me to play center (pivot man) on the varsity and helped me develop a fake to the right turn to the left pivot shot which was very effective.

WE WOULD BE REMISS NOT TO MENTION SOME OF THE OTHER FINE FACULTY FOR THE YEARS 41 - 42 AND 42 - 43.
1. Mr. Duncan retired in 1941 and Mr. Andrew Meurlot became Principal as has been discussed elsewhere in this paper.
2. In the Fall of 1941, Bob Mirus and wife Esther joined the faculty. Both were recent graduates of Eastern Illinois University.
3. Esther taught mathematics and was a favorite of the students. She initiated and directed a GAA group (Girls Athletic Association) that met after school and she tried to pass on her bridge playing skills to some of the students.
4. Bob was our basketball coach and he introduced a controlled offense with much passing that drove the usual run and shoot teams crazy.
He also enforced strict training rules and insisted that we never blindly put a ball back in play that was about to go out of bounds. That may have been a good rule but I notice that the college teams today do not follow it. We had a very successful season and were Champions of the National Trail Conference. According to the 1942 Tomahawk, we won 20 and lost 7 that year and BEAT T-TOWN both at home (12/23/41 34 to 27) and away (11/27/41 19 to 14). I had not remembered those facts but if the Tomahawk so noted it must thave been true.The Mirus family drove a robin's egg blue 1941 Ford V8 coupe that was the envy of all students and faculty. Class of 1942 graduate Professor John Tolch reports that he has been in mail contact with Coach Mirus who lives in Kissamee, Florida. After leaving high school teaching and coaching, Mr. MIrus served as a public relations official for a Florida College. They report that Ester Mirus died several years ago.

I CONTINUED PLAYING THE TRUMPET AND PLAYED IN THE HIGHSCHOOL BAND. OTHERS WERE BETTER THAN I ON THE TRUMPET BUT I REALLY ENJOYED THE BAND. IN THE SPRING OF MY FRESHMAN YEAR, THE BAND
HAD A PARTY AT THE HIGHSCHOOL. I MADE A DATE WITH A PRETTY BRUNETTE COUNTRY GIRL, IMOGENE WINKLER, GOT THE USE OF OUR 1938 CHEVROLET AND TOOK IMOGENE TO THE BAND PARTY. SHE WAS A SENIOR AND AFTER A FEW MORE DATES, SHE GRADUATED AND THAT WAS OVER.

MR. MARTIN, MY MATH TEACHER AND THE BASKETBALL COACH SAW ME PLAYfNG BASKETBALL IN PHYSICAL EDUCATION AND ASKED THAT I COME OUT FOR THE TEAM. THEY PRACTICED FROM 4:00 TO 5:30 AFTER SCHOOL AND INITIALLY I RODE WITH DON KING WHO LIVED NEAR MY HOUSE. BUT DON WAS A JUNIOR WITH HIS OWN CAR AND HE DID NOT MUCH LIKE MY TAGGING ALONG SO LATER THE FOLKS MADE A SPECIAL TRIP EACH DAY TO GET ME AFTER PRACTICE.

I MADE THE B-TEAM AND PLAYED IN SEVERAL GAMES. AS DESCRIBED IN THE LAMBERT DISCUSSION, I WAS SHOOTING OFF THE WRONG FORWARD FOOT A DEFECT WHICH WAS DISCOVERED BY OUR NEW COACH DERALD FULTON. HE HAD BEEN A STAR AT EASTERN AND WAS A VERY COOL CHARACTER. DURING MY SOPHOMORE YEAR HE WAS THE COACH AND HE PUT ME AT CENTER ON THE FIRST TEAM AND HELPED ME DEVELOP A PIVOT SHOT. FAKE LEFT AND PIVOT RIGHT TO SHOOT LEFT MANY PEOPLE TRYING TO GUARD ME HELPLESS AND ALLOWED ME TO SCORE SEVERAL POINTS PER GAME. COACH FULTON HAD USED A SIMILAR SHOT AT EASTERN ILLINOIS. LATER HE MARRIED DAISY GREESON AND THEY MOVED TO ARIZONA.

IN AUGUST BEFORE MY JUNIOR YEAR, ON A HOT SUNDAY I WAS SWIMMING IN THE MATTOON LYTLE PARK POOL WITH SOME FRIENDS. THEY HAD A SLIDE WITH A METAL LADDER WITH CUTOUTS ON THE STEPS. IT WAS GREAT FUN TO GO DOWN THIS SLIDE INTO THE WATER. THE LAST TIME I DID IT, I NOTICED A STRONG JERK ON MY 2ND RIGHT FOOT TOE AS I LEFT THE LADDER. IN THE WATER, I FOUND THAT THE FLESH HAD BEEN STRIPPED BACK TO THE FIRST JOINT ON MY 2ND TOE. I WAS TAKEN TO A MATTOON DOCTOR WHO REMOVED THE BONE BACK TO THE FIRST JOINT AND SEWED THE FLESH OVER THE STUB TOE. I WAS STILL CRIPPLED SOMEHAT WHEN HIGHSCHOOL STARTED IN SEPTEMBER, BUT I RECOVERED SOON ENOUNG TO START BASKETBALL PRACTICE.

AT THE START OF MY JUNIOR YEAR, BOB MIRUS BECAME THE COACH. HE WAS A SHORT, COCKY PERSON WHO HAD BEEN A STAR PLAYER AT EASTERN. HE INTRODUCED A SLOW, PATIENT OFFENSE WHICH SERVED US VERY WELL AND WE WON THE NATIONAL TRAIL CONFERENCE THAT YEAR. THAT OFFENSE FRUSTRATED MOST OF THE OPPOSING TEAMS AND THEY WOULD GET EXCITED AND MAKE MISTAKES. I PLAYED CENTER IN THE PIVOT AND AVERAGED 12 POINTS A GAME. WE BEAT TEAUTOPOLIS AT THE NEOGA DECEMBER HOMECOMING GAME WHICH WAS THE FIRST TIME NEOGA HAD BEATEN T- TOWN IN YEARS.

IN A GAME AT NEOGA AGAINST MARTINSVILLE, WE DID NOT RUN THE OFFENSE MIRUS WANTED, I FOOLISHLY TOOK A SHOT FROM MID-COURT WHICH I ALMOST MADE AND MIRUS GOT SO DISGUSTED THAT HE BENCHED THE ENTIRE FIRST TEAM OF ME, VERNON GREESON, SAM SAEGESSER, DON BISHOP AND BOB BURRY AND LET THE SECOND TEAM PLAY THE REST OF THE GAME (ABOUT THREE QUARTERS), MARTINSVIlLE DID NOT HAVE A STRONG TEAM AND WE EASILY WON BUT THE FIRST TEAM BOYS HAD LEARNED THEIR LESSON AND FROM THEN ON WE RAN HIS OFFENSE.

PARIS WAS UNDEFEATED IN THE STATE AND EVENTUALLY COMPLETED AN UNDEFEATED SEASON BY WINNING THE STATE CHAMPIONSHIP. WE WENT TO THE PARIS HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT AT CHRISTMAS TIME AND HAD THE BAD LUCK TO PLAY PARIS IN THE FIRST GAME. WE DID REASONABLY WELL THE FIRST QUARTER AND TRAILED ONLY BY 14 TO 12 IN THE SECOND QUARTER PARIS TURNED IT ON AND SNOWED US COMPLETELY. I DID GET 16 POINTS AND HONORABLE MENTION IN THE TOURNAMENT BUT THE FINAL SCORE WAS PARIS 72 AND US 32. MOST OF THEIR PLAYERS WENT ON TO OUTSTANDING COLLEGE CAREERS AT U OF ILLINOIS AND SIMILAR.

ALTHOUGH I WAS PLAYING BASKETBALL, I ALSO PLAYED IN THE BAND. SO AT HALF-TIME OF HOME GAMES, I WOULD PLAY WITH THE BAND WHILE THE OTHER PLAYERS RESTED IN OUR DRESSING QUARTERS. I WAS IN GOOD SHAPE AND COULD DO THAT DOUBLE DUTY EASILY. AFTER BEING DEFEATED BY WINDSOR IN THE REGIONAL TOURNAMENT, WE WENT TO CHAMPAIGN TO SEE THE STATE TOURNAMENT.

WHAT A SIGHT. CENTRALIA WAS THE FAVORITE BUT MANY OTHER GOOD TEAMS WERE THERE INCLUDING SAlEM, PEORIA, AND THORNTON OF NEAR CHICAGO. SALEM FEATURED ROY GATEWOOD WHO HAD AN IMPOSSIBLE TO STOP PIVOT SHOT FROM THE SIDE CORNER. WEST FRANKFORT FEATURED MAX MORRIS, 6 FT 2 AND VERY STRONG. LATER I KNEW MAX WELL AS A FELLOW V-12 STUDENT AT NORTH ESTERN WHO WAS A STAR NORTHWESTERN FOOTBALL AND BASKETBALL PLAYER.

CENTRALIA FEATURED DWIGHT EDELMAN BIG SCORER AND GREAT ATHLETE. HE LATER WAS A STAR FOOTBALL AND BASKETBALL PLAYER AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS. CENTRAllA HAD AN INTERESTING STYLE OF PLAY. IN ADDITION TO EDELMAN, THEY HAD A BIG BUNCH OF BRUISERS WHO USUALLY WOULD SHOOT A VERY HIGH lONG TWOHANDED SHOT WITH ALL RUSHING TO THE BASKET TO REBOUND IF THE SHOT WAS MISSED.

CENTRALIA PLAYED THORNTON IN THE FINAL GAME OF THE TOURNAMENT. THORTON HAD A VERY DISCIPLINED SMART TEAM. CENTRALIA COULD NOT MAKE THEIR LONG SHOTS, THORNTON SLOWED THE GAME DOWN MUCH AS MIRUS HAD US DO AND TO EVEYONE'S AMAZEMENT, THORNTON WON THE CHAMPIONSHIP.

IN THE SPRING, I WAS THE LEAD MALE IN OUR JUNIOR CLASS PLAY. LEONORE DOUGLAS WAS THE LEAD FEMALE ALTHOUGH EVERYONE THOUGHT THAT ROWENA ELSON WOULD HAVE THAT ROLE. I HAD HOPED THAT MY VERY GOOD FRIEND ROWENA WOULD GET THE LEAD ROLE BUT LEONORE WAS SO PROUD OF IT THAT SHE REMINDED ME OF IT AT EVERY REUNION SHE ATTENEDED SO A NICE THING DID HAPPEN. THE PLAY WAS A LOT OF WORK BUT IT WENT WELL AND KINDLY RECEIVED BY THE PROUD PARENTS.


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