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Bully

2015-10-27

I was bullied until I was in ninth grade. I didn’t call it bullying, I called it teasing. The last time I remember being teased was in basketball practice.  One day, it had been snowing, and there was two inches of snow on the ground. I rode my bicycle to basketball practice, which was at one of the grade schools on the north side of town. The ninth grade basketball team was called the junior varsity, and we were second class.  We had to find practice gyms wherever we could; the varsity team practiced at the high school gym, which was new and fancy.
The basketball gym for the high school was in its own building, a dome that held a basketball floor below ground level with bleachers all around rising up to ground level. There was a sort of track all around the bleachers where we ran laps, and there were doors all the way around. On the east side was the locker rooms, one for the home team and one for the visiting team. On the west side there were rooms where the wrestling team practiced. The gym was used for dances, science fairs, and any other event.
I rode up to the grade school building and locked my bicycle to a pipe on the side. The rest of the team was already there, but the coach hadn’t arrived yet. Several of the boys on the team who regularly teased me started to attack me verbally and with rolled up towels that they snapped at me. These rolled up towels left painful welts. I don’t remember what they were telling me but it was designed to make me mad.
I got into a fist fight with the most aggressive of the boys. He ripped my windbreaker all down the front. Just then the coach arrived and everyone pretended nothing had happened. We were not going to tell the coach what was going on.
After practice was over and we were in the locker room, I went up to the boy who had ripped my windbreaker and showed him what he had done. I punched him in the face and we started fighting. I fell down and hit my arm on one of the seats that was bolted to the floor.
The coach came in the door and everything stopped. He took me out in the hall and asked me what was going on. I told him about the fight and my ripped windbreaker. At that moment, I began to feel intense pain in my right wrist. The coach asked me what was wrong and I said that my wrist hurt. He felt my wrist and said it might be broken.
The coach took me in his car and drove me to the hospital. They took an Xray of my wrist. I was sitting in the waiting room and my wrist was hurting more and more. The nurse gave me a board and I laid my forearm and hand on it, flat. That helped the pain a little.
Finally, they said I had a phone call. It was my doctor, who was, I think, an internist. He told me that he was going to have an orthopedist take care of my wrist.
The orthopedist turned out to be Dr. Bone (his real name), whose son was on the basketball team with me. I remember that he had the biggest head of anyone I had ever seen. The boy was only thirteen and he wore a size 8 hat.
Dr. Bone showed me the Xray and pointed to a tiny line on my distal ulna. He said that it was a fracture, but undisplaced, and he was going to put a cast on it.
He put a plaster cast on my wrist and forearm, and the pain disappeared immediately. It never hurt again; it just began to itch after a couple of weeks. I wore the cast for three weeks and a splint for another week.
The boy who had torn my jacket was suspended from the basketball team as long as I was out with the cast. Another boy, whom I had identified as one of the teasers, was thrown off the team. He happened to be black (and he had an unpleasant personality) and that seemed to me to be an instance of racism because he hadn’t done as much as the boy who tore my windbreaker.
My father had my stepmother take iron-on repair tape and repaired my windbreaker with it. The strip of tape went all the way down the front side. She added another strip on the other side to balance it out.
I was ashamed to wear that jacket, but my father was too cheap to buy a new one. He was always cheap, and I grew so rapidly in those days that I had to have new clothes every six months. I grew six inches in height from my twelfth to thirteenth year. Fortunately, I stopped growing at thirteen and six feet seven inches.
My height guaranteed me a place on the varsity basketball team, but I was never any good. I had started playing basketball in eighth grade, and I was far behind the other boys. My father never played with me; even tossing a ball back and forth was out.
Years later I was surprised to find I was only six feet five inches tall. Over the years I had shrunk, probably because of injuries to my spine (see “Bicycle”.)

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Rick Steagall permalink
    2015-11-18 9:35 PM

    You road your bike from college where you took classes. Rest of us walked half mile from old high school building to Franklin Grade School gym for practice. Parents picked us up there.

    I recall your cast but not events causing it. You had oustanding potential as three things you can not teach: 1) size, 2) agility, and 3) sports intelligence.

    You did develop because varsity coach did not do job. You needed playing time and a lot of coaching. Should have required you play as much of game as possible and have volunteer to spend practice time teaching you to develop your shot from close and how to block out to rebound.

    Should also have arranged for college player or someone who knew sports to work regularly with you to develop those skills.

    You had the desire to reach your potential nut coach did do job

    You may not recall but I know of what I speak. My Father Chuck Taylor All American 1951 who lead nation in scoring 28 points per game and 10 assists. His Millikin team second in 1951 NAIA National Tournament where he was MVP of tournament and all time tournament team

    I knew you had the skills at time My description is from my adult and basketball knowledge.

    If properly taught you would have been too player by junior year. Instead varsity coach focuses on 6′ 2″ younger player later who was slow and not that strong.

    Did not know Bone hat size

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    • 2015-11-19 9:22 AM

      Thanks Rick, you have made my day. I always thought I was clumsy and blamed the fact that I had started late. Tom Bone was a great kid; I thought he had all the advantages and admired him; I also coveted the button-down shirts he wore. I just know I’m going to write more on this and deeply appreciate your feedback. Is it OK if I get back to you by direct email and ask a few questions later?

      Like

      • Rick Steagall permalink
        2015-11-19 10:27 AM

        Conrad

        Please contact me direct. I would enjoy exchanging emails.

        You were clumsy as a freshman. What 6′ 7″” freshman is not? They all start that way. Coach doing job plays them all the time and teach basketball moves.

        Michael Jordan–one of five greatest players ever was cut from team his sophomore year. Akeem Alajawan was soccer player from. Nigeria took up game as junior in high school Became one of greatest college and pro players ever Please do email direct. I hate going through it this way

        Long should have arranged to have you and I and Tim Bone playing pick up games out of season. Found a volunteer who knew game to help

        If he had done that and talked to my Dad. Dad would have spent time from time to time showing you fundamentals

        I remember he played a short game with me and cousins all out when we in high school. He blocked out on rebound as did when played. Conrad his behind was in my stomach and he would move hips. I was completely immobilized. The ball could hit asphalt and I could not move around him to get it.

        Like

      • Richard L Steagall permalink
        2015-11-19 10:52 AM

        Conrad

        I mentioned getting to play with Tim Bone and I in off season as Long knew Dr Bone and my Dad. Mike Baise would have also been involved.

        You were not at high school and I did not get to know you until sophomore-junior year. Had Long made sure we got to know each other you would have gone along with my Dad and I to see University of Illinois game. Not only would you have seen how basketball should be played you would have learned about how game is played from conversation with my Dad on two hour trip to snd from game.

        >

        Like

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