1958 – 1962 - Pekin Chinks High School                                                         Home

I entered Pekin Community High School in the fall of 58. At St. Joseph's we stayed in the same room all day only getting out for recess and lunch. Now I had my own locker and was actually free to walk between classes. It felt like I had been released from prison. I couldn't believe a person could have that much freedom at school

The town of Pekin had been founded in the 1820s and named after Peking, China. The school's colors were red and white and our school mascot name was “Chink.” I grew up a proud Chink not knowing it was a derogatory term until I was sixteen years old. Nevertheless were all proud to be “Chinks.” The football stadium scoreboard had a large red dragon on it.

                                                                              My Freshman Year – 1958 - 59

My first week I was called in to my counselor's office and I thought I was in trouble. She said I had received enough student votes to run for the student council and asked me if I wanted to submit my name for election to run against a girl named Rose for some office. I had no idea what a student council did but I didn't think I wanted to be involved so I refused. She tried to talk me into it but I really didn't have the confidence.

Gordon and I were sitting in study hall one day when Jack Stoudt, the freshman football coach came in and said he was looking for volunteers for the freshman football team. I had never considered playing football because of my size. I only weighed about 100 pounds, but he was desperate as they barely had eleven boys try out for the team. I asked him if I was big enough and he said “Sure!” so Gordon and I volunteered. Gordon lasted a couple weeks but I stuck it out for the season although I don't remember playing in any games.

The freshman and sophomore football games were played on Saturdays and the varsity games were played on Friday nights. Since I was in the band and I played drums in the marching band during half time at varsity games. The “Leader of the Band” (See Dan Fogelberg) and band director was a man named Larry Fogelberg who didn't put up with any shit. You either did your job right or you would be disciplined one way or the other. The drum major who would lead the band was my old grade school's acquaintance's boyfriend and was an excellent drum major.


My first day of basketball tryouts our coach Gib Beckler segregated those of us who couldn't shoot jump shots and told us we had to be able to shoot jump shots if we were going to make the team. At St. Joseph's as a guard I hadn't really needed one and just used a set shot. The jump shot was just becoming popular in high schools. We all began trying to learn the jump shot as fast as possible.

The next week we had our first scrimmage and I was the point guard on one team and my former St. Joseph's teammate Gordon was the point guard on the other team. The coaches were using the scrimmage as a means to determine who to cut and who to keep. Since I had just been warned the day before that I had to learn to shoot jump shots I was already insecure about my chances of making the team. As the scrimmage went on I began to get more worried because I hadn't scored any points yet but Gordon was leading the opposing team in points. Finally I decided I had to do something and what better way than to steal the ball from the best player on the other team. Gordon was bringing the ball to half-court when I made my move. I hung back and let him get ready to make a move and just before he started I advanced on him and stole the ball and started for the basket behind him. Gordon was right behind me as I approached the basket and I stopped abruptly under the basket and after he went flying by I layed the ball in. I had made my point. The next day Jack Stoudt the wrestling coach came by and was talking to coach Beckler. I found out later that he was trying to talk coach into cutting me so I could join the wrestling team. He had been my freshman football coach and my brother Jack was a senior on the wrestling team and he figured I would be a good light weight wrestler. If I hadn't made that steal and basket I'm sure I would have been cut.

We played our games on Saturday mornings. My role was that of a reserve guard. I didn't start. One away game Gib had put me in and right before the clock expired in the first half I had made a basket from half court that had caused him to fall off the bench. During half time he was talking to us while I was having a gas attack and I lost control and let a really loud fart. Everybody started laughing and the coach wanted to know who had done it. I fessed up and he said if we lost the game I was walking home. Thankfully my teammates won the game and I was awarded a seat on the bus home.

In the Chinks basketball gymnasium the band played in a balcony right behind the southern basket so that we all had an excellent view of the action on the court. One Saturday night Galesburg came to town with an undefeated record and a number one ranking in the state. Don Patterson, the little  league pitcher who had set me on the water fountain (See Grade School) was our star guard. After the band finished our pre-game routine I hurried down to the front of the balcony to get a good seat for the game. Pekin held their own in the first half, but in the second half Don got hot and everytime he brought the ball down the court he would dribble to the right past a pick and rise for a long jump shot. As this progressed Galesburg started moving further out to try to prevent it but Don just kept pouring in longer and longer jump shots – 30 footer after 30 footer. With the gym only capable of holding a couple thousand fans the noise level was just deafening. Galesburg just could not stop him and Pekin went on to win 84-70. It made our year. Galesburg wound up finishing third in the state that year.

Golf Season ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
When it came time for baseball season in my freshman year I was conflicted about whether to go out for golf or baseball. I wanted to go out for baseball but didn't want to disappoint my dad. I told my mom that golf wasn't that popular a sport among people my age. She told me that it was a game I would be able to enjoy all my life. After that talk I decided to let go of baseball and go out for the golf team. My older brother Jack was a senior and playing on the team. In order to play in matches you had to be in the top five and I didn't get to play in any matches my freshman year.

On July fourth 1959 I had my first real date since being in high school. A cute girl named Lynn Berry had had a friend tell me she wanted to go out with me so I asked her to watch the July 4th fireworks at the stadium from the grounds of the Pekin Country Club. When one of the members found out I had a date he told me I had better put some Brylcream on my hair. I had seen the TV advertisements about how the girls were attracted to guys who wore it so I got some and before the date I put some on. When I didn't notice any difference I put some more on. I kept putting more and more on wondering when it was going to kick in. Finally I gave up and went out to meet Lynn. We found a spot on the course and set a blanket down. The sun hadn't set yet and it was still hot. About 15 minutes later Lynn asks me what was that stuff on my forehead. I felt up there and all this gunk was rolling down my forehead. I excused myself and went back to the pro shop and looked in the mirror. It was terrible. I got a towel and tried to rub all that grease out of my hair before I went back to rejoin Lynn. I was too embarrassed to ask her out again. Later I remembered that part of the jingle was “a little dab will do ya”, but I never used it again.

                                                                     My Sophomore Year – 1959 – 60

During the summer of 59 the football team started two a day practices and the heat was unbearable. Thankfully the stadium was within sight of the pro shop where I worked but it was brutal and I remember dad got a laugh out of how I was dragging ass some nights after practice. After school started we went back to one a day after school practices.

My sophomore football coach was Mr. Reynolds and he would later be my chemistry teacher. One day near the end of our scrimmage he took over as quarterback for our team on which I was playing left halfback. He said we were going to run one more play and if the offense scored they would get out of wind sprints the next night. If the defense held it would be they that would be excused.  In the huddle he asked if anybody had an idea on how we could score from fifty yards out. I asked him to give me the ball and he agreed. He had been rolling out to the right and passing the ball and I figured that they would be looking for that again. He handed me the ball and then he started running the other way as if he was going to pass. I ran straight into the defense's huge tackle he grabbed me for a second but I had my head down and he couldn't see I had the ball. He saw the coach running the other way as if he had the ball and was going to pass and he let me go and started after coach Reynolds. Because he had held me up for a second and then let me go nobody thought I had the ball and as I darted out of his hands there was only one defensive back who was in my way. It was my old friend Dan Dancey. As I approached him I could see that he was going to be able to tackle me unless I cheated. Given the prize up for grabs I figured it was worth cheating and I ran about a yard out of bounds for a step or two to avoid his tackle and  ran in for a touchdown. He complained to the coach that I had ran out of bounds but since everybody had ran to the other side of the field no one else was sure. Coach said it was a touchdown.

The next night we started doing wind sprints and I wondered why nobody was saying anything about the touchdown team not getting out of windsprints. Coach was really pouring it on and still nobody was saying anything. Finally I was so exhausted I said “Coach – I thought you said if we scored a touchdown last night we wouldn't have to do wind sprints tonight.” Coach said “You're right – OK everybody on offense last night – to the lockers!” There followed a bunch of cheering as the offense headed for the lockers. When I got inside I noticed Dancey had ran in also. I said “Hey – what are you doing?” He just said “You Cheated!” The rest of the guys came in right after that and said coach only made them do one more sprint anyway.

One day we were enduring tackling practice. Two victims would lie on the ground about 15 yards apart, one with a football in his possession. At coach's signal we both would get to our feet and the offensive player would begin running toward the tackler. The tackler's job was to bring down the offensive runner. We apparently hadn't been doing a very good job of tackling because coach had just chewed out the defense for being so inept. I was next up and the offensive runner that I was supposed to bring down was a back named Roland Hagman. Roland had thighs as big around as my waist and weighed over 200 pounds and I weighed around 110 lbs. But coach's admonishment had fired me up and I determined to hit him as hard as I could. Being a little fellow when I tackled someone I always went for just above their ankles as if I got hold of the bottom of their legs and held on I could bring them down and this resulted in the least amount of carnage to my body exposing mostly just one shoulder and my arms and hands. This time however as I approached I decided to go right at his thighs without moving off to the side any. I hit him head on.

When I woke up I saw coach Reynolds kneeling over me with three fingers out frantically saying “How many fingers do you see?” I wish I would have had the balls to say 10 but I just told him how many I saw as he did it twice. I was ok but I had chipped my front tooth and they made me go to the doctor and get checked for a concussion. About a week later after getting my tooth capped I returned to practice with a new enthusiasm. I returned to my left halfback position and the usual 24-left off tackle run only this time I decided to just get to the line as fast as I could even if the quarterback couldn't get the ball to me in time. The first time the quarterback couldn't get the ball to me and he complained that I needed to wait. The coach told him to do what he had to get the ball to me and the next time he got the ball to me and I was in the backfield before the opposing guard could react. Then  coach came up with the idea that when the offensive guard would line up he would signal me which way he was going to push the defensive guard so I would know which side of him to run. That worked well in practice.

During the next game we were on our thirty yard line when the coach called 24-left and I popped through the line for an eight yard gain and the coach called it again. It worked again and he kept calling it until we got to their five yard line. From there the defense started stopping it and he pulled me out and ran an end run to score the touchdown. I never did score a touchdown.

The next week at practice coach asked Ken Wells the varsity coach to try me out on the varsity. He put me in the backfield of the varsity against their defense with the signaling scheme we had previously used. The first few times it worked well and I was able to get into the backfield. But eventually the defense caught on and every time I went the way the offensive guard was signaling me I ran right into their defensive guard. I'm not sure what happened there. Either I was going the wrong way, their defense had adjusted, or the guard was signaling me the wrong way. Coach asked me what was the matter. He asked me if I was tired. I wasn't but I said “Yeah” and that was the end of that.

One game the quarterback pitched the ball to me for an end run. As I started around left end with blockers in front of me the biggest black man I had ever seen burst through the line and was headed for me. I was just ahead of him but I could feel him breathing down my back. As I rounded the corner all of the sudden he was gone. I broke into the open and had only the safety between me and the goal. He was just a little kid like me and instead of trying to go around him I tried to just bowl him over but he was able to hold on to my ankle while I dragged him a few yards until he got some help and brought me down. I was upset that I hadn't scored but then I saw a flag and realized that the reason the black monster behind me had disappeared was because somebody had clipped him from behind and the play was called back.

The sophomore basketball team played on Friday and Saturday nights before the varsity game and I started to get a little more playing time. One night before the varsity Richwoods game there was quite a crowd already assembled while we were playing our game when the coach put me in right before the fourth quarter was to begin. We were behind by a few points. The opposing guard saw the guy coming in off the bench and thought he could shake me up so he was putting a lot of defensive pressure on me and trying to steal the ball. I made the mistake of dribbling into the corner right in front of our coach and bench and picking up my dribble. Now another Richwood's defender approached and they had me trapped in the corner with my back to the basket. I had to keep moving the ball around to keep from being tied up and I thought about bouncing it off of the opposing guard's leg and out of bounds but I didn't have a good chance. In desperation I figured if I just launched a shot toward the basket it probably wouldn't go near the basket but it might go to a teammate and would at least prevent an immediate turnover so I just rose in the air and launched a shot while falling out of bounds. I saw the shot go toward the basket and I could see it was a little off but it went in the right side of the basket and the crowd who hadn't been paying much attention before let out a big cheer as the third quarter ended.

In the fourth quarter I stayed in the game and made several steals and scored eight points helping us to a come from behind victory. As we left the court the varsity team was waiting to come out for their pre-game warm up our win had them excited and a couple of them said “Way to Go, Mike!” After that the athletic director started calling me “Tiger” whenever he passed me in the hall.

Because I played on the sophomore basketball team I was not able to play with the band during the pre-game ceremonies. I was only able to play during half-time. This was causing some problems with Mr. Fogelberg and our relationship began to sour as after the Richwoods game he could see that I was going to pursue basketball in the future. When I came to the high school I think Mr. Fogelberg had high hopes for me as I had been the dance band drummer for the Washington Jr High band and had taken lessons from the well known Jerry Ripper. But I was more interested in sports and after playing in the dance band my freshman year, Garry McCulley took over for me in my sophomore year and I didn't have much interest in continuing so I quit.

Golf Season-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I don't remember getting to play in any matches my sophomore year but that summer I made it into the A flight finals. I had beaten a country club member by birdieing the first sudden death hole. Now I was up against Keith Groen a Senator's son and also a member of the club. Keith had just graduated and had been the number one golfer on the golf team. I really didn't think I could beat him. We were playing the first 18 holes of the 36 hole match with the championship flight finalists as a foursome and had gathered a sizable gallery. One of the finalists in the championship flight was a country club member named Bob Monge who was a friend of the family whom I had caddied for before at the club.  When we got to the 12th hole I was two down and on the par four in two about forty feet from the hole. I left my first putt about 15 feet short and was pretty upset. Bob told me to relax and not worry about it. That helped settle me down and I made the 15 footer. I was still two down on the 13th hole when I came to my second shot on the par four. It was a five iron and I hit a big draw to get around a tree and the ball wound up two feet from the pin. The gallery let out a cheer. I was so shook up I missed the short putt. The fourteenth hole was a par four and I had an nine iron into the green. I actually hit it a little thin and it wound up a foot from the hole just as if I had hit a perfect shot. I made that putt and went to one down. I was able to hold out through the first 18 holes still only one down which I was pretty proud of.

The afternoon round they split us up from the championship flight and Keith and I played alone with virtually no gallery. He wound up hammering me 7 up with 5 to play which means he won just about every other hole on the last 12 holes.But I was happy that I had won 2nd place and when we went to Ohio that summer to visit grandpa I took my trophy to show him. (See Grandpa's Death)

                                                                               My Junior Year – 1960 – 61
Basketball -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
My junior year I decided to concentrate on making the varsity basketball team. If I went out for the football team I would miss a month of pre-season basketball practice. There was a new coach coming over from Peoria Central named Dawdy Hawkins who had a good reputation and I wanted to be sure I made the team. I was able to make the team and one of my teammates was a country boy from Tennessee name Ray Melton. He had a little bit of a rebellious attitude like me and we starting hanging around together at practice. Ray invited me over to his house on new year's eve. Meanwhile Dawdy had scheduled a new year's morning practice session. Some of the guys weren't too happy about that and on new year's eve Ray told me he and some of his friends were going hunting (I forget for what) on new year's day he wanted me to go with him. I told him I couldn't skip practice. He asked me to tell Dawdy that he was sick. I shouldn't have agreed but I did.

When I got to practice I started to approach Dawdy to lie to him but I just couldn't do it. Instead I did nothing. I was a little upset with Ray for putting me in that position. Next weekday Ray learned that he was no longer on the team. Ray came to me and asked me why I hadn't told coach that he was sick. I lied and told him I had forgot. His mom came down to talk to Dawdy but he wouldn't budge. Ray and his mom asked me to tell Dawdy that I had forgot to tell him that Ray was sick so I agreed. I went in to talk to Dawdy and lied and told him that I had forgot. He said it was ok – he understood. He wasn't buying it and it was final. Ray was off the team. That ruined my friendship with Ray.

I sat on the bench most of the season and didn't make the post season playoff team. Watching the playoffs from the stands was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. We didn't go too far that post season.

Dawdy was also the golf coach and when the season started I was the number two golfer behind senior Mike Dingerson. The best team in our area was Peoria Richwoods who had Bobby Moreland playing number one. His dad had played in the 1934 Master's tournament and had played against my dad in the 40s around Peoria. We went up to play them at their home Northmoor course. The first two teams played together in the same foursome. Mike played Bobby and I played Terry Schad, the number two golfer. I wound up upsetting Terry and Dawdy set up a competition the next week for the number one golfer on the Pekin Country Club course, which I had grown up on. I'm not sure that was fair to Mike but I beat him and took over the number one slot for the rest of the season.

About mid season we went to a medal play tournament in Keewanee and it was in the 30s and raining. They shortened it to only 9 holes to try to get it in. I was unprepared to play in that atmosphere as my hands were freezing and I didn't have gloves. It was like hitting a rock instead of a golf ball. I was playing with Bob Moreland and he was prepared to play with gloves and a hand warmer. I wound up shooting 51 and Mike Dingerson and several other teammates beat me. I wasn't used to that, but because of the weather Dawdy didn't change the order of our lineup and I remained number one for the rest of the season.

                                                                                   Senior Year – 1961 – 62

See Senior Basketball Season

The spring of 62 the school had a hayride and Dan Dancey's sister, Bonnie asked me to go. I agreed although I still had a crush on the girl I had made out with after the Washington game. She was on the ride also with a friend of Ray Melton. During the ride they were making out and I was jealous. They wanted to be alone so they acted as if they had fallen off the ride. As the ride kept on going I decided to fall off also. I fell off and went looking for them. I found them in a ditch getting ready to get it on. The poor bastards had to put up with me all night as we walked around those country roads lost. Finally we found a farmhouse and they made a call to get us a ride out of there. I had succeeded in preventing any copulation that night. I'm still embarrassed about that.

See Pekin Chinks Golf Season - 1962

                                                                                             Summer of 62

After my graduation I entered into the annual Tazewell County golf tourney in June. I had a terrible first round as I shot 76 on the par 70 course. The next day I was paired with my last summer playing buddy Mike Gianessi. He hadn't played well either and shot a 75.  The second day I shot 37 on the front and was not very happy when I finally started to play on the back. I birdied 11, 12, & 13 to get to 1 under. The 14th hole was a blind shot to the green and I had hit a 9 iron and as I walked to the green I saw Fritz Wool, Old Man Lunini, and one other person I knew but can't remember who it was standing behind the green.. Fritz ran the tavern near the course and the Luninis were a long time local golfing family whom I had played some with.

There was a ball about 12 inches below the hole. I thought they were playing a joke on me and said “OK – where did my ball stop?” They said that it had stopped where it was. I was surprised and said “This will be my 4th birdie in a row.”  Lunini asked me - “That will make you 2 under?” I said yes. It was a rainy day and the scores weren't that good so they were surprised. When Mike finally got to the green he found out where my ball was and saw the 3 guys standing there and I wondered if he didn't think something was fishy. As I went to knock my putt in I failed to give it the attention it needed. It was straight uphill and against the grain and I left it short. I couldn't believe it. I have never felt such a let down in my life.

There were 2 birdie holes left and in my mind I was already targeting a 66 and that bubble had just burst. When I got to the next tee Mike said “you're up”. I told him to go ahead. I was so let down that I didn't even feel like continuing. On the birdieable par 5 16th hole I dubbed a shot and bogied the hole and would up shooting a 70 which was good enough to tie the leader for medalist for the day, but still left me 9 shots behind and when I found out that they had decided to determine the flights by the first day's score only (76) I didn't even feel like continuing because I was in A flight and had a 10 shot lead over the next best score in that flight. I was humiliated as I  had hoped to be competing for the championship. Instead of being 5 shots behind the leader I was still 9 shots behind and in A flight.

When my mom told me my childhood friend Gene Durbin had called and wanted to know if I wanted to go with him next Saturday to the new St. Louis Cardinal's stadium to watch a doubleheader I said “OK” and I didn't even show up for the final 2 days of the tournament. I wanted to make a point of objecting to the idiotic idea of basing flights on the first 18 holes instead of all 36 holes and there was no way I was going to make up 9 shots on Don Hermes anyway. After the St. Louis game on Saturday I went back to watch the final 18 holes of the tourney as a spectator as I loved to watch the tempo of the eventual winner – Don Hermes.

Summer 62 Work

A really good looking blonde girl who lived on Bailey's lake called me and asked me if I wanted to go water skiing with her. I agreed and went over to her house where her dad had a boat and he took us out on the lake. We went back to her house and laid down in front of the TV and watched it for awhile. I was tempted to kiss her couldn't get up the nerve and her dad eventually came down to check on us. I should have called her back but I was too dumb. I was destined to go into college as a virgin.