Home Town Bergenfield didn't have its own high school until 1940, when an addition was built onto the junior high school for that purpose. Until then the junior high graduates would be bussed to high schools in the neighboring towns of Dumont and Tenafly. My class was the first to move from the 9th grade into the new high school addition, and as such, from then on till graduation in 1943, we were always the biggest kids in school.
When it came to trying out for the newly forming sports teams we sophomore "seniors" didn't have much competition. Almost anyone who showed up at the try-outs went home with a uniform. Being at heart a "loner" type, I wasn't really all that interested in team sports, but it seemed almost a duty to at least tryout, so I was soon playing on the soccer, basketball, and football teams. I was far from a star on any of them, but enjoyed the camaraderie, and the attendent "peer group status" which came from absorbing bumps and bruises for dear old BHS. What I was really pretty good at, for a kid, was tennis, but high schools didn't play such sports at the time.
And then there were the CHEERLEADERS whom I soon discovered were more interested in football players than in model builders, and I gladly traded the latter for the former. Every interest has its season...
The initial teams we fielded were about six inches shorter and 20 pounds lighter than the opponents we faced from the full-sized high schools, and that first year we were badly beaten most of the time. But being the designated underdogs in most every encounter, the local press took a liking to our spirited efforts in the face of near certain defeats, and nick-named us the "Mighty Mites," a name that stuck for years after our teams became "full grown" like everyone else's...Actually, WE WON the last game of our first football season, and the school went crazy with prideful joy!
My father, who had earlier forbid me to play football, did a complete attitudinal turn-around when I made the team. He became the team's biggest booster, came to every game with camera in hand (except when I made my one and only touchdown), got to know all the players, shmoozed with the coaches (and the team doctor, just in case) and had himself and all-around good time. He was a "loner" type too, and I think there lurked a tad of pride in him that his son was out there "mixing it up with the boys." I think I felt some too...
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