Red Shield Boys Club
Many a boy back in the 1950’s found an outlet for his energy during the winter at the Red Shield Boys Club. Kenny Cathell was the Executive Director for many years and he was superb in maintaining order at the boys club. His word was law and no one ever questioned it. Boys demonstrated better respect for their elders and had better discipline in those days.
First, there was football. I well remember the “cage” where they kept all the equipment. This was manned for many years by the late Don Patterson. They had four teams – the Green Terrors, the Terps, the Blue Devils and the Black Knights. There were two sets of helmets. One set was so old it was leather. The other set was by Riddell and was a more contemporary hard plastic design. They were red as opposed to the black color of the leather helmets. The four team league had a rule that if you didn’t weigh 100 pounds, you could play when you were 13. I can’t remember the season lasting too long, but the rivalries were fierce and would be the talk of the school week before the Saturday games.
When football was over, the basketball league began. They had the same rule regarding size and age. Four of us little guys got together and had an easy time winning the league. I don’t think that they had tryouts or anything like that. A bunch of guys just formed their own team and played throughout the winter.
They also had a ping-pong table at Red Shield that I will never forget. It seems that players were prone to smack the table to the point that there was about a foot deep gash in either end of the table. This made for tough ping-pong. I had a table in my basement at home and the first rule was that if you hit the table, you hit the door. My father was an excellent player and I played him every night for about five years. I always lost and asked him one time if he thought I would ever beat him. His reply was simply, “When you’re good enough”.
Red Shield still has a very active football program. They have a nice lighted field on Eastern Shore Drive and have even included the girls in a cheerleading program. It is really neat to see a nine year old boy all dressed up in pads and helmet strutting his stuff and imagining he is the next Heisman trophy winner. Dreams are what makes youth so special and we should encourage those dreams.