Ah, the gym teacher.
It's the one person who can keep you from graduating, hold your athletic self-esteem hostage and just plain wreck any aspect of your wanna be jock life if you're a fragile, not-so-athletic soul.
The gym teacher can also do the opposite. He or she can be an incredible help to your health and well being as well as your self esteem. The gym teacher can also whoop you into shape, like it or not, with a little brow beating and discipline, especially if you're not the regimented type.
There's one gym teacher who had reign over Fair Haven's Knollwood School gym like none other in the early 1970s — Mr. Measely. John Measely. Sir!
If you made it through Mr. Measely's armed forces-like gym class, you had character. You were tough. Uh, OK, you really didn't have much of a choice. Mr. Measely wouldn't accept anything less than acceptance of his bizarre gym class tactics. But, guess what? I'm pretty confident that no one dared question them.
When native Fair Havenite Tom Kirman ran into Mr. Measely, still thriving, looking well and selling Christmas trees right before Christmas, his picture posted on the Fair Haven Facebook page evoked a stream of comments that opened up a Pandora's Box of memories for all Knollwood alumni.
This man was a special breed of gym teacher. They all seemed tough, but Mr. Measely was something more than that ... What? Knollwood grads are not quite sure.
All you likely remember if you were in his class was that you just did what he asked. And what he asked, most of the time, was that you march around the gym like a soldier and run or do some sort of athletic routine to a song called "Go You Chicken Fat, Go!"
OK, Mr. Measely's tactics may not cut it in the sensitive, "all children are winners" school of thought today. But, he was quite memorable. And most of his former students have great memories of the man.
His gym class sounded kind of like this: "Hop to it! Hop to it! And line up on the side of the room and let's go ... MARCH! ... and a left, a left, a left, right, left ... and a left, a left, a left, right, left ... you're outtta shape and you're no darn good and you need to work hard and do something good and a left, left, left, right, left ..."
And it wasn't bad enough that the man made us march and work out to the "Go You Chicken Fat, Go!" song played endlessly on a tiny portable record player on the floor.
The girls in those days had to wear these incredibly ugly mandated gym outfits: one piece poofy white shorts (more like underwear) that very closely resembled a combination of baby onesies with snaps and a butt full of inflated Jiffy Pop Popcorn.
Yeah, Mr. Measely was something else ... And, Tom Kirman saw for himself that the man is still around.
And, though he was indeed the most unique of all gym teachers, there were others.
Remember Carol Reid at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School? She was pretty tough, herself. But, she also gave a little leeway to those who she just knew had not a bit of athletic aptitude.
That was good and bad. For instance, if she saw that you were the last to be picked for a volleyball team, ahem, she'd just put you and the team out of misery and make you bounce a ball against a wall the entire class period.
Trouble was that, though you were doing yourself and the team a favor, you looked a little too, uh, set apart in that corner against the wall.
So, we know that there has been many a gym teacher that has kept students back and even held them from graduation.
Who was your favorite gym teacher, or not, and what memories do you have of him or her? There must be more Mr. Measely stories out there! Tell us. And, Mr. Measely, we welcome you to chime in and contact us for a catch-up interview!
*Many thanks to Tom Kirman for the photo of Mr. Measely now!