"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Monday, January 24, 2011

Spending Treasure V- The Singing Gymnasium

"Go you Chicken Fat, Go Away!
Go you Chicken Fat, Go!"

Anyone remember that??

I don’t know why that song started running through my head recently. It is certainly hanging in there, though, with the tune running over and over in my thoughts.

It is from an exercise program that we used while I was in grade school. The teacher would set up the little black phonograph on a table at the head of the gymnasium and we would do our exercises to that tune. Whoever was singing the lyrics, would instruct us at intervals saying…”Run in Place; Touch your toes…or whatever. ...I don’t even remember it all. But I remember it was very popular with all the students. Some of the girls had heard about it before some of the others. They were very excited the first time we got to do this program and told those of us that were "in the dark" about it, that we would love it. Sure enough; we did. It is one of the few things I remember about P.E. class.

Most of all, though, I remember that big, old gymnasium! I remember the smell, the feel, the old hard wood floors and the stage where the cake walk was held at the annual fall carnival. It was also the stage where the 7th grade choir performed and embarrassed our teacher almost to tears when we all got the giggles and couldn’t stop laughing. Oh my, she was angry with us after!

My 8th Grade Graduation
The school gym was where our Camp Fire Girls Banquets were hosted, and I know I attended quite a few Boy Scouts events there when my brother was a cub scout, a Webelo, and a boy scout. The gym housed our class dances, as well as a place where we were offered square dance lessons.  The 8th grade class graduated there every year as the final activity at our little school, before going off to 9th grade and the big school in the city. 

The gymnasium was where my oldest sister was crowned “Princess” of her class. I can still picture her there on a platform set up in the middle of the gymnasium floor standing with the rest of the “royalty” while they received their crowns. She was the prettiest one there and I knew she deserved that crown! I was so proud of her.

Below that gym was a basement that held our school cafeteria. I loved it down there, too. It always smelled like dinner in the oven and it was always warm and comfortable. The walls were simply cement, but painted with a grey lacquer. It had a rather low ceiling and one small bathroom tucked away in the corner of a coat room where coats hung on metal hooks.  There were shelves all along the sides of the cafeteria, where we were to place our lunch boxes. There is a story coming about that, some day. Another lesson learned well that never left my mind or heart….but that will be another post.

The tables were all lined up in rows and we always knew where our class was required to sit. Holy cow! I have a memory from just about every table in that room. For example, like one day when I asked my 6th grade teacher that I might be excused from the table. I had just gotten a permanent in my hair that I absolutely hated. My 6th grade teacher was my first male teacher. When I walked to the head of the table to ask his permission to leave, he complimented me on my hair and I was absolutely mortified. I didn’t know how to respond. I wanted to tell him I hated it and it embarrassed me. I think I just turned red and got out of there as quickly as I could. 

Then there is the memory of my first grade teacher quietly praying before her meal each day. Oh, how I loved to see that…and how I loved my very first teacher. She complimented my mom’s cinnamon rolls one day. It wasn’t long before she came to school with her own homemade rolls, but they just didn’t quite compare. I always felt bad hers didn’t have the same gooey sauce that my mom’s did, and I always felt bad that I hadn’t offered her a taste of mine.

I also remember when I went back to visit my old school as an adult, I was surprised to see actually how small that gymnasium really was. It seemed so large when I was a kid. The old gym is gone now. Not sure what year it was that they finally tore it down. It has been some time ago. I loved that old building, and all the warm memories there. Who would have ever thought though, that 45 years later I would still be singing to myself a song I had once learned there…"Go you, Chicken Fat; Go!"

How about this one? “Bend and Stretch. Reach for the sky. Stand on tippy-toes. Way up high…” Ha ha…that’s for another post too. ;-)


  1. Thank you for jogging my memories.
    I remember being very excited when it finally became my chance to exercise to Chicken Fat. I had heard about it from all of you how funny it was. My first chance had the principle as our leader. He made it so much fun and seemed to enjoy it as much as we did. I think he played it twice for us that day. There after we would all yell "again" "again" every time the record was brought out.
    My favorite cafeteria memory is the Father Daughter Dinner that Daddy took me to. What a treasured memory for me to have him all to myself.
    I remember "Bend and Stretch" too. ;-)
    Do you remember the little poem Mr.C. would recite every spring.
    Spring is sprung.
    The grass is riz.
    I wonder where the birdies is?
    Great memories all.

  2. Ha ha!! I do remember that poem!! Thank you for reminding me! What is it that ties us to that place! :-) I have tears in my eyes even reading your post. When I was looking through my scrapbook for that photo of the gym, I found an old "Maverick Newsletter". In it, one of the students had interviewed Mr. C. He said one of his hopes was to one day visit Europe. I wonder if he ever got to go....

    Those Father/Daughter banquets WERE so special.
    Thanks for the comment and the poem! ;-)

  3. This is so good!! I always, or usually, remember after you remind me. Even the things I do remember I could never express them the way you do....you are such a gifted writer sister! I am proud of YOU!!!

  4. Thank you, Lynnie...I wonder if we have that picture somewhere...that image is forever engraved in my memory...and I would love to see if I remember correctly. :-)