Where Have You Gone Trebor Nedyap?*
The grass is always greener in the other fellow's yard.
The little row we have to hoe, Oh boy that's hard.
But if we all could wear green glasses now, it wouldn't be so hard to see how green the grass is in our own back yard.
-Theme song to the Big Brother Show
I’m extremely tired today. I painted all day yesterday and when I got up at 5:30-this morning, I felt the way I used to feel the day after double-sessions. For those not familiar with double-sessions, let me paint a quick picture for you. Not a portrait necessarily, just a quick little black and white painting; probably charcoal like Jon Gnagy used to do. At least I think it was charcoal. We only had black and white television back then so it was hard to tell – you know, because of all the black………..…..and the white.
Do you remember Jon Gnagy’s TV show, Learn to Draw, which went on-air in 1946 during the infancy of broadcasting? That was two years before I was born, but I can remember watching him as a kid and trying to follow along and draw with him. My artistic prowess generally culminated in a sloppy mess of in-cohesive smudge marks, a remarkable ability I possess to this day.
I can still remember sitting in front of our Philco TV with my pencils and crayons, doing my best to replicate Jon’s work. My memory is a bit fuzzy, but I’m fairly certain I got one of his coveted Jon Gnagy Learn To Draw kits for Christmas one year. Now that I think about it; either I actually had one or I’m still fantasizing about having one 52 years after the fact.
You were expecting me to tell you about double-sessions weren’t you? This whole Jon Gnagy thing was just another of my infamous tangents; a little side trip down memory lane, like when you were a kid and your dad would start off on a trip and turn off onto a side road that he thought was a shortcut, and your mother would say, “Arthur,’” or whatever your dad’s name was, “I think you should go back the other way,” and your dad would say, “I know what I’m doing,” and he’d keep driving until it got dark and you were totally lost and all your little brothers and sisters would be in the back seat crying and then your mom would yell real loud and your dad would finally turn around and head back to where he stated from several hours earlier.
Yeah, this Jon Gnagy thing was kind of like that – without the ‘crying’ and the ‘yelling’ and the ‘getting lost’. But I will turn around – just like your dad. I scare you, don’t I! There’s no need to be scared; just be careful. By the way; was the second sentence in the previous paragraph one of the longest sentences you’ve ever read or what?
“Tell me about double-sessions,” you beg, praying with all your might that I’ll get back to my original premise.
Don’t get pushy! We’re not half done yet. I’ll get there! Besides, this wasn’t really about double-sessions; it was about my having been tired from painting. If you’re going to read this you’re going to have to pay closer attention. Good grief!
So, double-sessions were when we had football practice twice a day, thus the double part. Apparently double-sessions were the direct result of some football mastermind replicating the concept of the single-session. Pure brilliance! I believe that these days double-sessions are called two-a-days. More brilliance! Will it never end?
My Alma mater, Mansfield High School, held what was called, captain’s practice, around mid-July – about six weeks prior to the start of the football season. This practice was run by the captain or captains of the team, thus the term, captain’s practice. I believe this term was thought up by the same genius who coined the term double-sessions.
There were no coaches allowed at these practices. I’d heard of certain coaches that had been seen ‘hanging-out’ in the general vicinity of the practice fields, but they were probably just looking for a lost contact lens or something. Surely, they’d never knowingly break the MIAA rules. No – that would never happen!
Captain’s practice was mostly a lot of running and stretching; trying to work off all that vile belly-fat we’d accumulated from sucking down frappes, pizzas and fried clams at Frates Dairy in Norton all summer long.
Double sessions were tough. They started in mid-August and all the coaches were there. We practiced for two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon on the field out behind the high school, which is now the Qualters Middle School. We had a lunch break in between, during which time we’d head downtown to Rockwood’s Variety, aka Rocky’s, on the corner of Church and North Main streets.
I swear Rocky had the largest nose I’d ever seen on a human being. It was enormous! What a snout! Rocky had one of those noses that, as hard as you might try, you couldn’t help but stare at while you were talking to him.
So, we’d suck down as much soda as we could hold, gobble down a few packages of Twinkies and Hostess Snowball’s and walk back up Church Street, making a quick pit stop at Memorial Park where we’d puke our guts out before heading back to practice. Good times!
Double sessions were unpleasant to say the least, unless physical pain, mental anguish and vomiting were your thing – then you were golden! Both the heat and our head coach, Bill Parsons, lovingly known as ‘Punchy’ to those of us who maintained an ongoing love-hate relationship with him, were brutal. Running sprints up and down the practice field in ninety percent humidity with Kevin Fallon on my back was no treat either. I’m sure Kevin felt likewise.
Punchy was an old-school coach. He had played guard at Boston University and was a tough, fireplug of a man with a menacing grin permanently emblazoned on his face. He looked like one of those guys who always had something up his sleeve, and it was never anything good. I’m convinced he went home at night and dreamed up new ways to torture us. I think the nicest thing he ever said to me was, “Bobby, I have a daughter at home who can block better than that!” I believe he probably did.
My colleague, Meredith Holford, a fifth generation Mansfieldian whom I fondly remember from my days at MHS, had suggested that I delve in to some of the old-time TV shows in my column. Meredith told me it seems that whenever the old shows are brought up in conversation it pulls people in to the discussion.
Although I loved her idea, I wasn’t sure I wanted to commit to the kind of time it would take to do all the research. There are so many old shows I’d need to write a book in order to cover them all.
But, after giving it substantial thought, I’m sure I can weave one or two of the old shows in to my column each week without having to spend half my life on the Internet, Goggling the likes of Boomtown, Pinky Lee and Tom Terrific. After all, the name of this column is, Take Me Back so it certainly would be fitting.
Okay, Meredith, I’ll do it, but I have a mission for you, should you choose to accept it. Get on the phone or send out emails to everyone you can think of and ask them to send you a list of every old TV show they can come up with from the fifties and early sixties. Compile the list and send it to me. I’ll do the rest. Fair enough?
Actually, let’s have some fun. If you’re reading this and you have a favorite TV show from the 1950s or early 1960s, shoot me an email or post it at the end of this column. Let’s see how many we can come up with and; more importantly, let’s see how many Boomers there are out there.
I have to run. Big Brother is getting ready to do the Toast to the President and I have to go out to the kitchen and get a glass of milk.
Make it a great week!
Do you know Trebor Nedyap? He’s legendary in the annals of MHS. Email me or post to the comments below.
Bob Havey is a freelance writer and a Mansfield native, currently living in Easton. His column "Take Me Back" appears every Friday at http://mansfield-ma.patch.com.His other column, "The View From Here", may be seen each Tuesday at http://easton-ma.patch.com.