In 1942, when Dad was a sophomore, he was on the Class “C” Track Team at Fresno High school. That’s him, second from the left on the bottom row. And there on the bottom right was his childhood (and lifelong) friend, Jimmy Bradshaw.
An interesting side note. A year ahead of my dad was Jae O’Hanian, manager of the Varsity Track team. See him there – top row, far left? Does he look familiar? He went on to be known Mike Connors, star of the TV show, Mannix.
In 1943, Dad must have been absent the day of photos but he still was a standout for the Class B team.
His senior year, 1943-1944, showed he was now the standout of the Varsity Team and affectionately known as Flash. I am so glad that I have all of his yearbooks to study.
As all true Levys did, my dad was also a scrapbooker. So besides his yearbooks, I also have his scrapbook where he kept all of the newspaper clippings about his track days. That’s Dad on the right.
Dad was pretty fast for the day. From what I’ve found, his best time in the 100 yard dash was 10.1 seconds (high school record was 9.9 seconds) and in the 220 yard dash was 22.3 seconds (high school record was 21.7 seconds). Dad liked to remind people that he ran on a dirt track with sub-par shoes with less conditioning and no scientific diet.
In 1944, the Fresno High School Warriors tied with the Roosevelt High School Roughriders, the first time a tie had occurred in the 14 year history of the Fresno city high school track and field championship. Dad ran his heart out that day.
L-R: Gordon Levy, Leroy Eiffler, Jimmy Bradshaw, Ted Matthews
The big meet every spring was the West Coast Relays. I can remember an annual pilgrimage to Fresno each year so Mom and Dad could go to the track meet while we stayed at home with Grandma.
On May 20, 1944, Dad was the leading scorer in the meet with 7 1/2 points. He won both the 100 and 220 and was the anchor on the winning relay team.
Dad did run some track at Stanford but, of course, he was a smaller fish in a much larger ocean there. He said the main reason he was able to participate on the track team was because of the lack of upper class men who were all off to war.
Dad loved to tell the story of running both the 100 and 220 sprints against USC’s Mel Patton in the LA Coliseum. This was about the time that Mel broke the record in both events and was known by some as “the fastest man in the world”. Dad was always quick to tell people that on the day of their races, the world’s greatest sprinter vomited before both the 100 and 220 in fear of him and then Mel proceeded to beat him by 10 yards in the short race and a bigger gap in the 220. When Dad told his roommate how badly he was beaten, his friend summed it up by saying “At that moment, you were the second fastest sprinter in the world”.
Something my dad always hung on to as he always liked to see the glass half full.