Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fast times at Junior High!

April 28, 1983 Thursday

Dear Ophelia,
"Today was a perfect day. Mrs. Werner and Mr. Koofel (the principal) congratulated me on my running. Cheri and I are good friends. We run the workouts together. After running/jogging 2 miles, we sprinted the 220 and I won. The two miles was nonstop. Well I gotta go so, bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer, Muffie, Chipper."


Cheri was an amazing girl! She was the fastest runner on the track team. Cheri trained outside of track practice too. She lifted weights and played other sports. She was one of four daughters. Her father trained all of them to be athletes. He drove them pretty hard. Jennifer did not envy that, but she appreciated the results. Cheri was fit and strong.

Jennifer admired Cheri. The two girls were competitive on the track but best friends off the track. Beating Cheri in a race was Jennifer's primary goal in life in junior high. Cheri introduced Jennifer to all her friends. She was a lifesaver. Cheri went on to qualify for the National Junior Olympics. She and Jennifer have lost touch, but Jennifer is forever grateful to Cheri for welcoming her to Alaska!


Cheri, 10th grade photo. She's trying to hide her braces!

May 1, 1983 May Day

Dear Ophelia,
"Sorry I didn't write but nothing happened. Today Mom and I went shopping. I got some great new clothes in style and everything. I kind of like a boy named Dean and Jon and Danny a little and Arthur in a way. I need a boyfriend. I have a longing. I miss Dad and I feel sorry that he has no friends and is so alone. I hope he gets some friends. It seems Daniel and I are the only ones Dad has. Daniel and Dad don't get along well. Dad gets along with me but I not him. Well, bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer, Muffie, Chipper."


"I have a longing." Well said, Jennifer!

It occurs to Jennifer now that her fighting with Daniel and her father were probably hormone related. She moved to Alaska partly because she thought she wouldn't fight with her mom like she fought with her dad and brother. Unfortunately, her hormones boarded the plane with her!

Her father did not date or have friends over to the house. In all the years she lived with him, they never had company. She does not remember her father speaking to anyone on the phone and he never left at night to have a date.

May 2, 1983 Monday

Dear Ophelia,
"We are doing integers in math. It is easy so far. Next year I am going in Honors English and High Average Math. I have 3 projects to do. Here is something about Joel: he is not shy about what he says. He likes to follow Jeff and Mom all over the place and listen to people talk even if they don't want him listening. He constantly drives me crazy and I just have to go somewhere so he will leave me alone. Also, he believes anything if you are convincing enough. Bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer, Muffie and Chipper."


The honeymoon is over! Looking back at this entry, Jennifer sees things different than she did then. Joel is a social person. He wanted to hang out with his new older sister. He seemed gullible to her because he was younger. He was ten and she was going on thirteen. His youthfulness and curiosity annoyed her.

Out of all of them, Joel probably wanted a happy family the most. Jennifer is sad that she didn't spend more time with him. Jennifer adores Joel now but they live in two different countries. They don't get to hang out much.

May 3, 1983 Tuesday

Dear Ophelia,
"Tomorrow is another track meet. I am running the mile, the 880 and 880 relay. I am so nervous. It is 10:37pm. I did the 440 in 72 seconds and the 220 in 33.9 seconds. Well I gotta go, bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer, Muffie, Chipper. P.S. I hope I start my period this summer."

Kids are always in such a hurry to grow up!

May 4, 1983 Wednesday

Dear Ophelia,
"I ran the mile in 6 minutes and 9 seconds. I ran the 880 in 2 minutes and 46 seconds. Yaaaa. In the relay we got 2 minutes and 6 seconds. 6 seconds from the record. Your friend, Jennifer, Muffie, Chipper."



Jennifer's Diary

May 13, 1983 Friday the 13th

Dear Ophelia,
"Last night we saw 'Oliver Twist'. Sorry I have abandoned you so long. We had another track meet. I ran the mile in 5 minutes 58 seconds. The 880 in 2 minutes and 44 seconds. I am going to Shannon's party tonight. I can't write long, it's almost time to leave. Your friend, Jennifer, Muffie, Chipper."

These distances Jennifer ran are measured in yards. Times have changed and now the races are the 200, the 400, the 800 and the mile. I looked up some records that were set at Stateboro High School in the summer of 1983 when they were still running the 880, 440 and the 220.

Statesboro held a track meet for all the area teams that summer in 1983. Here is how Jennifer's times compared to the fastest times of kids her age in Statesboro, Georgia.

220
Doretha Lundy: 30.1 seconds, Jennifer: 33 seconds

440
Tyunye Williams: 72.59 seconds, Jennifer: 72 seconds

880
Sonya Baldwin: 2:45:98, Jennifer: 2:44

The Mile
Sharon Williams: 6:42, Jennifer 5:58

Jennifer was not a sprinter. The 220 and the 440 were too short for her. She gets better as the races get longer. The 880 and the mile were her favorite events! Jennifer's times are still competitive with what the kids are clocking now. Unlike professional athletes, kids were as fast in the past as they are today! The human body hasn't changed much. The adults are faster now because of many advances in equipment, training, nutrition and let's face it--other types of "assistance".

May 14, 1983 Saturday

Dear Ophelia,
"The party was really neat. We saw three movies, Hot Lead and Cold Feet, Tron and Heaven Can Wait. I did laundry today for 5 dollars. I get allowance Monday. I get 10 dollars a month plus the 5=15 dollars. All my boxes were moved into my room. It is so messy. I have so many things and no place to put them. Well I gotta go so, bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer, Muffie, Chipper."


Jennifer is on the right track (literally!). She's been in Alaska about seven weeks now. She's an up and coming track star, she has a fantastic friend (the kind who has your back no matter what), her friend's idea of hanging out is going for a run or lifting some weights and Jennifer's being invited to parties with a nice crowd of girls.

This is a parent's dream for their child! If Jennifer stays on this track, she will become a popular and confident jock. She will acquire the swagger of an athlete. The exercise will balance her hormones and her commitment to her team will keep her out of trouble. She will probably end up dating another athlete. She will focus on good nutrition and health. It will be easier for her to say "no". She might even go on to win a college scholarship.

Alas, if Jennifer stayed on this track, I would not be transcribing her diaries! Kids have no idea what is good for them sometimes. But let's enjoy Jennifer's groove while it lasts!

Alaska
Alaska became the 49th state on January 3, 1959
Alaska accounts for 25% of all the oil in the United States
The fishing and seafood industry is the state's largest private industry employer
Dog mushing is the official state sport
A thirteen-year-old boy designed the state flag in 1926!


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