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The High School Captain of the Team; or, Dick & Co. Leading the Athletic Vanguard By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 11238

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

Leading the Town to Athletics

"Mr. Morton, we want a little word with you."

"All right--anything to please you," laughed the submaster, looking at Dick and Dave as they came up to him in the yard at recess.

"We've been thinking over a plan," Dick continued.

"It has something to do with athletics, then!" guessed the submaster.

"Yes, sir," nodded Dave.

"High School athletics, at that," continued Mr. Morton.

"There you're wrong, sir, for once," smiled Prescott. "Mr. Morton, we've been thinking of the High School gym. It's a big place. Pretty nearly three hundred gymnasts could be drilled there at once."

"Yes; I know."

"There's a fine lot of apparatus there," went on Dick. "It cost thousands and thousands of dollars to put that gym. in shape."

"And it's worth every dollar of the cost," contended Mr. Morton firmly.

"Mr. Morton," challenged Dick, "who paid for it?"

"The city government," replied the submaster.

"Where did the city government get the money?"

"From the citizens, of course."

"Now, Mr. Morton," went on Prescott, "how many of the citizens get any direct benefit out of that gym.? Only about a quarter of a thousand of High School students! Couldn't the city's money be spent so that a far greater number would have the use of and benefit from the city's big investment!"

"Why," replied the submaster, looking puzzled, "the youngsters in the lower schools have their needs provided for, in some way, in their own school buildings."

"True," agreed Dick. "But what of the small army of clerks and factory employees of Gridley? Aren't they citizens, even if they haven't the time to attend High School? Haven't our smaller business fry a right to the health and good spirits that come out of gymnastic and athletic work? Haven't our typewriters, our salesgirls and factory girls a right to some of the good things from the gym.? Aren't they all citizens, and isn't the gym. their property as much as it's anyone else's!"

"Excellent," nodded Mr. Morton. "But how do you propose to get them interested in the use of their property, even if the Board of Education will permit it?"

"The willingness of the Board of Education can be dropped out of sight," argued Dick. "The Board is the servant of the people, and must do what the people want. What Dave and I want to see is to have the High School gym. turned over to the young working people of the city in the evening time. Say, two evenings a week for young men and two evenings for the young women. We believe it will result in big gains for Gridley. When you put new life and brighter blood into the toilers, it increases the wealth of the whole city, doesn't it?"

"I declare, I think it ought to," replied Mr. Morton. "But see here, how are two boys--or, let us say, two boys and a submaster--going to bring about any such result as this?"

"By presenting it properly through the leading daily of Gridley," replied Prescott, with great promptness.

"Have you received any assurance that Mr. Pollock, of 'The Blade,' will be for this big scheme of yours?" asked Mr. Morton.

"When we've explained it all, I don't see how he can help being for it," rejoined Prescott. "If 'The Blade' takes hold and booms this idea, day in and day out, it won't be very long before evening gym. classes will be filled to overflowing. And the Board of Education would have to give way before the pressure."

Then Dave took hold of the subject for a while, talking with great earnestness. Mr. Morton listened with increasing interest.

"I think, boys, that you've hit upon an idea that will be of great service to our city," remarked the submaster. "Yet what put all this into your heads!"

"Why, sir, it's our last year at the High School," replied Dick, smiling though speaking with great earnestness. "After four years of the fine training we've had here, Dave and I feel that it's our place to do something to leave our mark behind. We've been talking it all over, and we've hit upon this idea. Will you stand by us in it?"

"Why, yes; all that I can, you may be sure. But just what do you boys expect me to be able to do!"

"Why, help us form the plans and back us up in them. You are really the leader in school athletics in this town, Mr. Morton," explained Prescott. "I can quote you in 'The Blade' as to the benefits that would result in giving gym. training to workers who can't attend High School. And, in the spring, after a winter in the gym., young men and women could form outdoor squads for running and other outside training. Altogether, sir, we think we might make Gridley famous as a place where all who possess any real energy go in to keep it up through public athletics. And such classes of young men and women could have the use of our athletics field."

By the time that recess was over the submaster certainly had enough thoughts to keep him busy.

That afternoon Dick and Dave took Mr. Morton around to "The Blade" office. Right at the outset Mr. Pollock jumped at the idea.

"Prescott," he cried, "you've sprung a big idea. 'The Blade' will feature this idea for days to come. You may have a column, or a column and a half every day, and 'The Blade' will also back it up on the editorial page. Now, go ahead and get your stuff in shape. Above all, have interviews with prominent men, especially employers, setting forth the benefit that ought to come to the young people and to the city at large. Take as your keynote the idea that the city's duty is just as great to provide physical education as it is to supply learning out of textbooks. You'll know how to go

ahead on that line, Prescott."

By the next day Gridley had something new to talk about. By the time three days had passed the matter was being discussed with great seriousness.

Employers saw, and said that the time young men spent in a gym. would not be spent in billiard rooms or other resorts of a harmful or useless character. Young women who went to the gym. would be home and in bed early, instead of staying up most of the night at a dance. All who entered the gym. classes would begin to think about their bodily condition and plan to improve it. Improved bodies meant a better grade of work and increased pay.

Dick wrote splendidly on the subject. "The Blade," editorially, gave Dick & Co. full credit for springing the idea. The Board of Education, at its next meeting, authorized the superintendent of schools to throw the High School gym., open evenings for the purpose indicated. It also voted Mr. Morton an increase of pay on condition that he take charge of the evening gym. classes for young men. One of the women teachers was granted a like increase for assuming charge of the evening gym. classes for young women.

Dick Prescott, on behalf of the High School boys, guaranteed that the most skilled in athletics among the High School boys would be on hand to aid in training the young men, and in getting up sports and games for the gym. in winter, and for the athletic field in the spring.

As soon as the classes were opened they were crowded to their utmost capacity. All of the younger portion of Gridley seemed suddenly anxious to go in for athletics.

"Prescott and his well-known comrades of the High School appear to be leading in the very vanguard of athletics this year," stated "The Blade" editorially.

Dick and his friends could not, however, give as much aid to the new scheme now as they intended to do later. They were in the middle of the football season, and that had to be carried through first of all.

Yet it was a big evening for Dick, Dave and their chums when the High School gym. was thrown open for the forming of the gymnastic class for young men.

Almost three hundred presented themselves for enrollment. Scores of the leading citizens were also on hand to see how the new plan would take. Among these latter was Herr Schimmelpodt, the retired contractor, who was always such an enthusiastic booster for High School athletics.

"I tell you, Bresgott, it vos a fine idea of yours," cried the big German, as he stood in a corner, looking on, while Dick talked with him. "This vill keep young folks out of drouble, and put dem in health. It vill put Gridley to being twice as good a town, alretty."

"Hullo, Mr. Schimmelpodt," called a young clerk, passing in trunks and gym. shoes. "Don't you get into a squad to-night? This would do you a lot of good."

"Maype, if I go in for dis sort of thing, I crowd out some young mans who needs it as much as you do," retorted the German, blinking.

"But don't you think you need it, also" laughed the clerk?

"Now, led me see," pondered the German. "Young man, you think you gan run?"

"I know I can," laughed the clerk, leaping lightly up and down on his soft gym. shoes.

"I yonder if you could reach dot door ofer dere so soon alretty as I gan?" queried Herr Schimmelpodt.

"Will you run me a race?" grinned the clerk.

"Vell, you start, und ve see apout it."

Tantalizingly, the clerk started. Then he glanced back over his shoulder. There was a great noise on the floor of the gym. Herr Sclhimmelpodt had started. He was so big that he made a good deal of noise when he traveled. But he was going like a streak, and the clerk began to sprint in earnest.

It was all in vain, however. With a few great bounds Herr Schimmelpodt was close enough to reach out one of his big arms and lay hold of the fleeing clerk. That clerk stopped suddenly, with a jolt.

"Vy don't you go on running, ain't it?" demanded Herr Schimmelpodt.

A crowd formed about them.

The reason why the clerk didn't continue his running was a very good one. One of the German's big hands encircled the clerk's thin arm like a bracelet of steel. The clerk struggled, but he might as well have tried to break out of irons.

"You vant me to bractise running, so dot I gan catch you, eh?" grunted the German. "You vant me to eat breakfast sawdust for a dyspepsia vot I ain't got, huh? You vant me to dake breathing eggsercises ven I can dake more air into my lungs, alretty, dan your whole body gan disblace? You vant me to do monkey-tricks mit a dumb-pell, yen I gan do things like dis?"

Suiting the action to the word, Herr Schimmelpodt grasped the clerk by one shoulder and one thigh. Up over his head the German raised the unhappy young man. Herr Schimmelpodt's arms fell and rose as he "exercised" with the young man for a wand.

Everything in the gym. had stopped. All eyes were on this novel performance. Roars of laughter greeted some new stunts that Herr Schimmelpodt performed with his human wand. The great German was the only one who seemed unconscious of the hurricane of laughter that he was causing.

At last the German put his victim back on the floor.

"Yah, young mans, I am much oblige dot you show me how I need eggsercise. I feel much better alretty."

Red-faced, the clerk fled to the other side of the room, followed by the laughter of the other gymnasts.

Yet Herr Schimmelpodt's good-natured performance had great value. It taught many of the young men present how far this generation has fallen behind in matters of personal strength. Mr. Morton had easier sailing after that.

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