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Photos from the 1966-67 school year.
Source: photographer(s) unknown. (We'd like to know.)
The photos were
supplied courtesy of Steve Canaday.
Photographs on this page may have been edited, cropped, or retouched to
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The 600 Yard Run
A recollection by Ken Welch, recalled and written in the year 2013
Shortly after taking office in 1961, President John F. Kennedy
initiated a physical fitness program encouraging all Americans, but
particularly the young, to get into better physical condition through
According to our teachers, one of the results was the recommendation
for certain activities. If I remember, it was 1963 when I was in the
8th grade one of the events the local schools were doing, and I think
schools across the nation were doing if they were participating in the
recommendations emerging from the President's plan, was requiring
junior high physical education male students to run 600 yards.
Our day at East High came and since phys. ed. was a required class in
junior high, I was among those who would be mandated to run.
From goal line to goal line, a football field, that is to say an
American football field, is 100 yards. So the run was up and back along
the football field three times, not an inconsequential distance for a
13 year old.
I guess I thought of myself as something of an athlete since my older
brothers were excellent ones. I'm not sure I knew it then or it was
revealed to me in coming years, but my natural tendency was to be a
sprinter of short distances. If it got much more than 100 yards, I
slowed down dramatically and certainly by 400 yards I was struggling.
As I learned later, that was true no matter what kind of physical
condition I was in.
On this day of the 600 yard run, I expected to be among the leaders.
There were two phys. ed. teachers, the duo of Coach Oscar Ammer and
Coach Dennis Barden and almost always the two classes meeting at the
same time combined for all our phys. ed. activities. So it was this
day. We had something like 40 or more boys lined up on the goal line of
the relatively new football field in the middle of the large west
campus area of the school. We had a running track around that field but
it was easier to measure the 600 yards by just running up and down the
football field and it would have been impossible to get 40 boys running
on the track all at one time without a massive traffic jam.
Lined up, ready to go, wearing our white East High phys. ed. uniforms
which had the school name and mustang mascot printed on them in red,
one of the coaches blew his whistle and we were off. True to my
self-image, I quickly took the lead, putting considerable distance
between me and most of the other runners. Once I'd run 200 yards, my
recollection is that I was surprised to see I was at least 50 yards or
more ahead of just about everyone else. For the next 100 yards, I
continued to expand the distance from the pack, but as you can imagine
from my earlier description of my disposition, my speed was decreasing
with each lap. I do not know just where it I might have slowed down
enough that the group to begin to catch up. Regardless, after about 400
yards it was clear there was one fellow between me and the closing pack
who didn't seem to be affected at all by the hundreds of yards we'd
run. He was maintaining a steady and not unfast pace. In fact, he was
gaining on me. And this was a 7th grader! It must have been about the
500 yard mark that this young fellow ran up even to me. I'm sure I
tried to keep up, but it seemed like this boy could have just begun the
race -- it seemed like he was just warming up! Despite my desire to
maintain the lead, the 7th grader passed me and won the race
convincingly, crossing the football field goal line probably 15-20
yards ahead of me.
Whether or not I could catch my breath at that moment or not to
congratulate him, I don’t remember. But within a few minutes I did
express my admiration for his running ability to Pat Copeland,
something I’d do many times in the years to come. Those of you
who attended East during that era, or participated in boys athletics in
city schools, probably know Pat became a superb athlete in junior and
senior high and was a good guy to have as a schoolmate, as well.
There were other talented athletes in the 7th and 8th grades at East,
but the 600 yard run I was in combined only two classes out of probably
six or seven at those grade levels, so the competition was limited.
While some of the others in different classes might have outrun me, and
if the race had been much longer some of the others in my group would
have passed me, I sincerely doubt anyone in that age group would have
beat Pat. On that day (and many others, I might add), Pat did President
Kennedy's physical fitness program proud. On the other hand, since I
came in second maybe I did Vice President Lyndon Johnson's physical
fitness program proud, though while Vice President Johnson was slender
enough, I don't think he struck anyone as the exercising type. He
could metaphorically twist arms in Congress to get his way, and bending
his elbow at the bar wasn't foreign to his nature either, I don't
think. I'm sure his elbow exercises could lead to more stories about
our high school days, but those will be left for another time.
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