Said and Done

My name is down for all today’s events

Editor’s note: An incomplete version of this column ran last month. Here is the complete column.

“Full Program”
Great Britain, Punch, 1946

My name is down for all today’s events,

the hurdles and the sprints.

I’ll not stick at the hundred meters flat,

the half-mile dash;

I’ll take the long jump and the high,

throw my last ounce of effort in

to hurl the discus and the javelin,

to pitch the hammer and put the shot.

I will not pick and choose,

I’ll not refuse

the hot team friendship of the relay race

or the long distance lonelier

I’ll not complain

of frost or sun or rain;

I’ll not first ask

Precisely what’s the task.

Whether I’m in the lead or in the ruck,

I am prepared to crawl

Under barbed wire

to vault a rail or scale a wall!

Whether I’m first or last,

I’ll not fall out until the post is passed.

Victor ludorum or an also-ran,

I will come in,

My name is down for all today’s events.

The boy who won the tennis tournament got the silver cup with his name engraved on it. There were ribbons for the swimmers and the runners, diplomas for the boys who qualified in archery and riflery. There were prizes enough to go around.

What topped them all was not a silver medal or a blue ribbon. First prize, the most sought after and treasured, was a box of shredded wheat.

That was for the boy whose name was down for all the events. For his energetic playing the game, for his determination to make the most of it and be the best, he got the prize to beat all prizes: That box of shredded wheat.

Our director knew how to run a boys’ camp. He was the man who opened the season on first night with a pep talk. He put a polished chestnut at the bottom of a jar and covered it with dried peas. While he talked about courage and dedication, application and perseverance, he shook the Mason jar. At the end he took off the cover and showed how the chestnut had somehow risen to the top.

His purpose, of course, was to illustrate for young boys how they must resist the jostling and shaking, how they must strive for bigger-than-life character to see them start at the start and work their way to the top.

Two of us counselors got orders in the middle of the summer to go back into military service. Both of us had served in World War II.

We can never forget our camp director’s response when he heard this. He put his head in his hands and leaned on his desk. “Not again, not again!”

In 1941, he lost the main body of his faculty. Now, at the start of the Korean War, he must face that all over again.

See what he gave us when we left him? He had praised us and encouraged us. He had put our name down for all the events.

We shall never forget the shredded wheat that reminds us how we must work to make the most of life.

In semi-retirement after 58 years of writing for The Recorder, Paul Seamans of Gill will continue Said & Done on a regular monthly basis. Some of his columns will have been previously published.

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