Editor’s note: This is another column in Bill Boyd’s new series, “The Way It Was,” about growing up in Marysville. Bill continues to work with the Union County Historical Society to obtain information for his stories. With Marysville and Union County celebrating Bicentennial anniversaries in 2019 and 2020, respectively, these articles help depict what life was like in those early years.
The King And I
When the Marysville swimming pool opened in 1936, the stone bathhouse had not yet been built. So a wooden structure was erected to serve as a temporary bathhouse. Later, when the stone building was completed, the wooden structure was moved to the bottom of the hill, just west of the pool.
I saw it there for several years with a padlock on its door. Then one day when I was 13 or 14 years old, I noticed that the door to that building was open, so I parked my bike and looked inside.
The building was full of wheelbarrows, mowers, rakes, shovels, and other things like that. Then I noticed some older boy lying face down on the floor. He was doing push-ups, and he was counting aloud as he did them.
His name was King Forry, but a lot of the boys his age called him by his nickname, Yossel. He had a summer job taking care of the Legion Park. I knew him well enough to talk with him when we met on the street, but we weren’t close friends. But over the next few weeks, I got to know him better, and I really admired that kid. I’ll tell you why.
I don’t think I ever knew anyone who was a harder worker than King. When he set his sights on doing something, he stayed with it, no matter what, until he got it done. All summer long, I would see him working in the park.
One day he might be using a scythe to cut weeds along a fencerow. The next day, I might see him pushing a wheelbarrow full of stones to edge a flowerbed. He never stopped. And on top of all that, he would get to work early every morning and do exercises in that little wooden building.
Then one day when I stopped to talk with him, I saw one of those large, five-gallon paint cans, full of concrete, sitting on the floor. A steel rod, a few feet long, was sticking out of the top.
I asked King what that was, and he said he was making something to exercise with. In fact, he said he could use my help with it the next day, when he would turn it upside down and stick the other end of that rod in another can of wet concrete. He said the whole thing would be top-heavy, and I could help him balance it to keep it from tipping.
As soon as I got there the next day, he lifted the first part and stuck the other end of the rod into the new can of concrete. Then he had me hold the rod to keep it from tipping, while he secured the whole thing with boards from a scrap lumber pile. He said it would remain like that for a few days, and then he would have a really great barbell to lift.
I asked him why he was doing all that, and he said he was trying to build himself up for football in the fall. He wasn’t a particularly big kid, but he was solid as a rock. He said he loved to play football, and the stronger he could become, the better he could play the game.
I watched King lift that barbell for the rest of that summer. Sometimes he would lie on his back on a wooden bench as he lifted. Other times he would stand and lift it over his head. Then he might hold it in front of him as he squatted and then stood, over and over again. I mean, this kid was really focused.
I remember going to one of the football games that fall. I can’t recall which team Marysville was playing, but at one point, their ball carrier, a really big kid, broke through the line and headed directly at King. I believe he thought he would run right over him. But when King hit the boy, the ball flew up in the air, and the kid landed flat on his back.
It knocked the wind out of the boy, so he sat out for a few plays. When he came back into the game, he never again tried to run over King Forry. He ran away from him.
Years later, some time during the 1960s, my wife Janet and I went to a party and one of the other couples there was the Wenzels. Paul Wenzel had been a long time Marysville football coach, beginning in 1940. Over the years, he had seen many Marysville players.
While I was talking with him, I asked him who he thought was the best player he had seen over the years at MHS. He just wouldn’t answer. He said there were quite a few very good players, and they played different positions. So he couldn’t say who was best.
Then I said, “Okay, if you can’t say who was the best, then let me tell you who I think was the best. And I told him I thought it was King Forry. Paul thought for a bit. Then he smiled and said, “Pound for pound, you just might be right.”
That really didn’t surprise me. I bet that concrete barbell had something to do with that.
Those wishing to contact Bill Boyd can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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