Sometimes West Coast alumni seem to miss the School more intensely than those living closer. So it didn’t surprise me recently when Lawrence Siskind ’79 emailed from Eugene, Oregon, to say that news of all the changes at the School had elicited memories of his time here in the 1970s when my office was closet-size in a locker room long-ago transformed, Saturdays meant Saturday Club and the games of four square in an era marked by a “four square craze,” as Lawrence described it. I, too, remember Saturday mornings when there were as many as three courts taped out on the gym floor. I played with the boys as well as refereed: final arbiter of line disputes. Four square, which requires quick feet and superior hand-eye coordination, is an elegant game and in some ways is the opposite of the boys’ favorite at this time: dodgeball.
Pin-dodge ball, played by the older boys during roof periods, was a fearsome activity. In this I was simply referee. As I look back on it now, beyond the boyish trash talk and the crash of misfires against the wire cage, I remember how much dodgeball was a game of specialists and how much that specialization revealed about the boys I taught. There were, of course, older, bigger boys renowned as flamethrowers. Others, more estimable in my view, took pride in catching the hardest throws the opposition gunners could muster. Also to be admired were the self-sacrificing boys who saw it as their duty to defend the pin at all cost. Some were hiders, cleverly staying out of harm’s way at the early stages of the game, only to emerge at the end to defend their team’s honor. I’m not sure how I felt about them or the eager masochists who knelt on the dividing line between teams and dared the enemy to fire at them. A catch in those circumstances was a great triumph. And there were, alas, boys who had difficulty admitting they were hit. I could go on about everyman-for-himself scatterball, roof hockey (on the roof or in the gym), and the myriad versions of capture the flag, but I’ll save stories in hopes of seeing nostalgic West Coast alumni at the end of the month when I will be in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
We can talk more about the masochists then.
Fortiter et Recte,
David Kersey h'98
Faculty since 1969