Miracle On The Playground- By Riss Ryker

Miracle on the Playground.

Growing up in a small city was a wonderful thing in the early 70’s.. This is a picture of my city coming in from the thruway. I grew up in a an awesome neighborhood, the HILL, and went to a wonderful, tight knit elementary school, Vrooman Avenue Elementary. We all lived in the same neighborhood, went to all the same classes and basically grew up together..

I was very athletic as a kid and at 10 yrs.old, I hated being a girl. Girls couldn’t play football, or baseball. Girls couldnt take their shirts off in the summer heat. Girls couldn’t ride their bikes in a ‘bike pack’. Well, they could, but since only 2 other girls plus myself were the only tomboys, it didn’t constitute a pack. Miracle on the Playground  But basically, the priveledges of being a tomboy included being picked 3rd or 4th for ball games, you know, the co-ed games at recess time like dodgeball (my favorite) or kickball (my second favorite). Cool Our athletic abilities in 5th grade, the other two girls and I,  were notorious and gained the respect of even the toughest boys.

So here it was, 1972, 5th grade, and we were all racing outside for recess. Mr. Barker, my least favorite teacher simply because he taught math, something my brain went into total shutdown for, lead us outdoors screaming and running.  10 yr.olds tend to do that when trapped in a classroom for 3 hours. It was kickball week, so we all lined up against the fence, flipped the coins for captains, and started picking teams. I always felt sorry for the same ones that were picked out of sheer pity. You know the ones, the nerds, the girly-girls, the bookworms…

Miracle on the PlaygroundAfter we did ‘1,2,3 SHOOT!, to see who was up first, the winning team lined up to kick. Now, at the other end of the field was a chained link fence, and anything over that fence was a homerun. Automatic. In front of the fence was the basketball hoop. Mr. Barker was the pitcher for both teams. Up first, Mike P. Kicking the ball into the far left field, he made second base..Up next, Pete S. Line drive up the middle, past Mr. Barker who could make plays for both teams, for or against. It was super hard to make an automatic homerun, the fence was a substantial distance away. It only happened once in a great while.

It was my turn up. With my unruly red hair tucked up under my hat, a determined look on my face, I waited for the perfect roll. It came. It had the perfect spin on it, the kind where you KNEW it was gonna get some air. I met it, drew my foot back and kicked that ball for all I was worth. The minute my foot made contact with that ball, I knew it was gonna fly, and FLY IT DID. Over the heads of my teacher, my classmates and SWISH!!! right smack through the basketball net without touching the rim!!! Kids stood in stunned disbelieve, erupting in cheers and exuberation at my amazing feat of skill. I was a temporary hero to all girls at that moment. Miracle on the Playground      My teacher came over to me laughing and patting me on the back..he said to me, “If you can do that again, because what are the odds, I will give you $20.00” My classmates jaws dropped. After all, in the 1970’s, $20 was a LOT of candy and novelty toys!  I shook his hand, and stepped up to home base. All eyes were on me now, and the great responsibility of it all weighed like a thousand pounds on my shoulders.It was all in slow motion. With a determined look on my face, and tomboy power in my heart, I waited once again for that one perfect roll of the ball.

Miracle on the PlaygroundA lot was riding on this! My reputation as a tomboy was at stake! Mr. Barker rolled the ball, a foul, I let it pass. Next roll, another foul. If he rolled another one, and I let go, that would be a walk! I didn’t want that! Third roll and there it was again.My pefect roll. I met that ball part way and put everything I had into that kick. Once again it sailed over the heads of my classmates, my teacher, and (wait for it…) YESSSSSSSS!!! That ball for the second time that day miraculously swished through the basketball net! The playground erupted in screams of disbelief and awe, mine being the loudest. Mr. Barker shook his head in defeat, not believing the odds of that happening two times in row. My grin nearly split my face as I held out my hand…He reached into his pocket and placed a $10.00 bill in it..My face dropped…I looked up at him and said for all to hear, “YOU said $20.00.This is only a ten”.  “Listen, kid,” he said. “Do you know the odds of that happening even ONCE much less 2 times in a row? Now take the money and RECESS IS OVER!!!!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Miracle on the Playground Needless to say, I had my five minutes of fame, went home $10.00 richer, and had a classmate at my 30th class reunion remind me of that day…(thanks for remembering, Joe F.!).

Life is  good…                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      


One comment on “Miracle On The Playground- By Riss Ryker”

  1. Cool hometown memory!

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