Saturday, January 2, 2010


“Felix, Felix, get up! Get up!

After working six years to get through college, my last quarter almost turned into a nightmare. Some of you who read my post about when I was kicked out of college at the end of my junior year will remember that I was denied going to summer school. That had more repercussions later.

Very close to the end of the school year, the registrar suddenly discovered that in order to graduate, I was one credit short. The only class that I hadn’t taken that was available to me was a lifesaving swimming class for one credit. Great, I thought. I can do that.

This class was being held at the YMCA because our college did not have a swimming pool .I didn’t have a swim suit and could not afford to buy one. My sister in Chicago sent me hers and it was a bikini. Bikinis were not in general use at the time and it was pink and orange and black (Sis never did have good taste in clothes;) ) and the top was not very secure but it was all I had to use.

Too late, I found out that I was going to be the only female in the class. The day came for our first class and I walked down to the Y and went alone into the ladies room to change into my suit. I stayed in that room for 45 minutes pacing the floor not wanting to walk into that den of wolves in a bikini. A whole football team made up of mostly beefy linebackers!

But you gotta do what you gotta do and I had to graduate. So I finally entered the swimming pool area. There were a few whistles and grins but I sauntered in with the most poise I could muster. And the class went on.

The first lesson involved learning to float. We had been divided into partners and we were supposed to float to one another. Of course, I drew Felix P. , middle offensive lineman, who was at least 360 pounds. Well, I floated to Felix all right and he drew me up out of the water when I reached him just fine. Then Felix floated to me –and I tugged and I tugged and I could not budge him and that is when I kept hitting him on the shoulder and yelling, “Felix, Felix, get up!”

The class progressed and it became more of a class in elemental swimming as most of us were not proficient enough to work with lifesaving techniques. Moe floated right to the bottom no matter how hard he tried to stay afloat. I knew how to dog paddle and the old side stroke, but I was really good at the butterfly stroke. How come, I don’t know but the coach would ask me to demonstrate it for the class. Now, why do you suppose he did that?

We did have to learn how to dive off the high board. Or should I say we all had to try to dive off the high board. When it came my turn, I was terrified but all the guys were very supportive and were encouraging me to “come on, just do it” and so I put my arms and head down and hit the water below with my head and was nearly knocked out cold. They had to pull me out. I served the food in the dining hall that night feeling really woozy!.

I hated that class and I would tell the coach every two weeks or so I had my period and thus would be excused for that day. (This was before the age of tampons, folks. At least those of us who thought we would lose the string and that thing up there forever.) He was a rather timid soul and did not argue with me. (Course he had turned beet red when I came up one time from under the water and the bra top hadn’t held)

When the class came to an end we had to do all the stuff we had learned including diving off the high board ----me with the same result.

I passed with a C and was graduated . Finally!

Not with a bang, but a whimper.


Gail said...

What a wonderful story!

Butterfly, my foot! He wasn't too shy.

Anita said...

Why Bernie, you were one brave, hot mama, and you probably still are!

RNSANE said...

That is such a great story, were a pioneer and a brave soul way back in the day!

GooseBreeder said...

Great post Bernie, good to have you back with such a fine story, missed you.
Happy New year!

Wanda said...

Were you a wild child Bernie? I remember your post of being kicked was one of the first I'd read. You have some surprising stories Bernie!

Midlife Jobhunter said...


And people wonder why I'm a tad off!

Bernie said...

My dear friend I am beginning to think that you were a wolf in sheep's how you did what you had to do....wouldn't of been easy back then so I am very proud of you. You and women like you have helped to make the way easier for those who follow. Have a great Sunday......:-) Hugs

Deb Shucka said...

Love your stories! Love picturing a young you in a bikini with all those yahoos just to graduate.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

Grandma This is Ian, why is there a picture of a girl in a bikini on your blog???

lakeviewer said...

Oh I love this! Thanks for tripsing over to my place and leaving a comment. Now, we can hang out and share our stories.

Susan R. Mills said...

Great story! Yes, we do what we gotta do, right?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
June said...

I read this just about the minute you posted it, I think, and I've been in awe of you ever since, trying to think of some response!
How brave of you to saunter out that first day with any poise at all!
You might have hated the class, but I'd bet my last dollar that your classmates looked forward to every class meeting!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Great. And you haven't aged a bit!

Valerie said...

Hi Bernie, popped over from Ken's blog, and I'm glad I did. I loved this story. Now I know why I never took up swimming!

Anonymous said...

ah at last, I found your post once again. You have few [url=]useful tips[/url] for my school project. Now, I won't forget to bookmark it. :)

Anonymous said...

so cool. your story telling is amazing, so lively :) i enjoyed this immensely.

motionocean said...

aww : )
lovely story!


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