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Friday, April 22, 2011

Art Fish- My Experiences with Art

Art Fish Tennis Court will be dedicated on Saturday morning at 8:30am. Art was quite a man. He brought incredible energy and humor to his job as a PE teacher and as a coach. During his tenure I don't think there was a sport that he did not coach.

When I was a young cross country coach, Art told me his experiences coaching cross country and football at the same time. He told that he used to load the runners up and take them out by Lake Bracken, dump them off, and have them run back while he went back and had football practice. He began to find the runners were getting back earlier and earlier each time So typical Art, one day he dumped them off, headed back back but pulled over to the side of the road in a blind spot. He waited, and sure enough here came the runners. They were all in the back of a farmer's pick up truck, riding into town. They had found a farmer who came to town each day at the same time.



His second story was that they had cross country meets on Friday night along with home football games. They ran vs. the team they played in football. They would send the runners out on the race toward the end of the soph football game so they would finish in front of the crowd right before the varsity game started. The games were at the old Lombard field. And typical of Galesburg, one night a train came which held up the runners. After the train went through, the runners were all there waiting to make a mad dash for the finish line. As they came to the finish, it was noticeable that many runners had their uniforms ripped and some were bloodied. When they sorted things out, they found out the runners while waiting for the train to go by got in an argument about whether they had to wait and leave in the order they arrived. The argument turned into a fist fight.

For me, my first experience with Art was in the fall of 1974 as a first year teacher of U.S.History. One day we were talking about the Civil War when in walked some man who I had never met (Art Fish). He quietly sat in the back of the room and just watched for about five minutes. I had no idea who he was, I assumed it was someone there to evaluate me. After he had listened for awhile, he stood up and said that he hated to interrupt me but what I was telling the class was not accurate. My first thought was, "Oh no, I have messed up I am in trouble." Art proceeded to tell the class, "I fought in the Civil War and this man is not telling it accurately." He proceeded to have my "remedial U.S.History" class spell bound for the next five minutes as he told tales of his Civil War experiences, then he just walked out.

One of my last experiences with Art was when I was recovering from hip replacement surgery. Art just lived down the street from me. One nice, warm afternoon I decided to get outside with my walker for assistance. And here came Art from the other end of the street. Me in my mid-50's, and Art in his 80's or 90's. We stopped in the middle of the block for a conversation. He probably could have gone farther but I couldn't. My wife just happened to drive home then. She thought is was so funny. She told friends it was so nice that I had found a friend to go out and run around with.

No one had more stories than Art. He makes me smile just to think about him.

1 comment:

  1. Great stories about Art. He was definitely one-of-a-kind and one of the nicest men I've ever met.

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