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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ernie McQueen - A Teacher of Tenacity

An old schoolmate of mine passed away this past week.  A big (actually very big) good-humored guy, Ernie was one of my teachers in a way.  When Ernie was in 10th grade at Keene Public School I was in 7th.  I weighed about 95 pounds soppin' wet. Ernie weighed rather more.  We all had PE together and played flag football during September through December. Flag football at KPS was something of a contact sport which we played in those white PE uniforms that look like underwear - no pads, no helmets.

Following the mysterious reasoning of adolescent males, my quarterbacks decided that, since the skinny kid with the horn-rimmed glasses was useless for anything else, I should become a lineman.  Ernie always seemed to line up across from me whenever we played.  The teams were usually the same guys with a few exceptions. Being last chosen, I would always wind up on pretty much the same team every time - those destined to lose.  I never asked.  I just took up my place on the line.  During baseball season, it was deep right field where I couldn't do much harm. Ah, well....

Blocking Ernie was a challenge to say the least. He used to go over me like a freight train.  I'd throw myself at him with all I had and Ernie would swat me aside like a pesky fly and go clobber my quarterback.  When I was on defense, I could outmaneuver him so long as he didn't get a clean hit, but it took so long to get round him I seldom was able to get a hand on the quarterback or whoever had the ball. If Ernie did manage to get a solid block on me, however, I would wind up flat on my back in some sticker patch deep in my own backfield watching little birdies circle my addled brain.

Ernie once told me, "King, I admire your stubborness." I'm actually kind of proud of that. Ernie taught me a lot about tenacity that season.

© by Tom King

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