Jeffrey Williams: Many fond memories from St. Rose gym

Jeffrey G. Williams - Guest Columnist

rIn 1971, I graduated eighth grade from St. Rose. With the demolition going on, I thought of fond memories from my youth and the people I met at the building.

I recall Bob Burns. Although he had a physical impairment in his hands, it never stopped his countless hours of volunteer work. I don’t know when the building was renamed Bob Burns Hall, but he was always there taking care of the gym and basketball program. I remember him being spitting mad with my inability to get low while dribbling and guarding the ball at basketball practice.

Mike Sites was our seventh- and eighth-grade basketball coach. He was a hard-nosed guy and didn’t take any guff from anyone. Sometimes his coaching was laced with a few expletives, which we all had heard but never repeated. No one complained. Our parents thought it was appropriate in our teachings.

In those days, I thought I would be the next Austin Carr or John Havlicek. I soon realized from my place on the wooden bench on Saturday morning game days that my athletic abilities were very limited. It did not stop me though from practicing that last second half-court shot and winning the game. If you arched the ball right, you would not hit the ceiling.

You would leave the gym in your short shorts and cross the outside to the door that lead downstairs to the locker room, where we were expected to shower in a circular pod with barely warm water. It was cold and the wind blowing through the walkway separating the gym and locker room was always a reminder it was winter.

On the left side at the bottom of the stairs was a room locked constantly. In there was a swimming pool, long closed when I was there, where uniforms were stored. I saw my first glimpse of an adult magazine in the locker room when a teammate brought one of his dad’s in his gym bag. On another occasion, a member of our team took another guy’s clothing and hung them on the convent’s back door. Needless to say, he was severely reprimanded. The convent is now the Samaritan House.

The building also served as the origin of Lima Central Catholic. Upstairs was a trophy case with numerous awards St. Rose High School earned. They were very good in basketball and baseball, making the final four in the state tournament. There were numerous classrooms above the gym. My friends and I sneaked up there a couple of times, running the hallways and just taking it all in.

The building served also school assemblies conducted by Sister Mary Mark; class pictures were taken there, school talent shows, where my brother Randy and his friend Harry struggled to perform on guitar, “Bridge Over Troubled Waters.” It was the building where in eighth grade we had our retreat for two days, re-evaluating our faith and being explained by priest and layman the ways of the world. It was also where our graduation was held.

Life was different then. Most of us walked, no matter what the weather, to school and gym for practice and games. I learned to bumper ski one night after practice. I have always been proud of my Cardinal youth. I still see, on occasion, others who were in my class at St. Rose. We often talk of our memories of the building. The progress being made at St. Rose is a positive note to a parish long rich in history.

Although a building from my past is being removed, I am sure Monsignor Yeager would admire the “effort and conduct” being made.

Jeffrey G. Williams

Guest Columnist

Jeffrey G. Williams is an attorney in Lima.

Jeffrey G. Williams is an attorney in Lima.

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