She practiced so she didn’t ‘throw like a girl’

From our September 2013 issue

By Bernice Millar – Turnor Lake, Sask.

I was always a very active girl and I believed I could do anything my older sister, Beth did. She knew how to ride a bike and said she’d teach me how. I thought that would be a great idea!

The bike we had was an old army bicycle. It was stuck in third gear and difficult to pedal. It was a man’s bike and so big that I, at just four years old, had to ride under the bar to pedal.

As it happened, there was a new road being paved, but hadn’t opened yet. The curbs were in and the section near us was already paved. We walked the half-block, got set up, and Beth started pushing me while holding the bike by the seat.

All of a sudden, I was aware I could no longer hear her footsteps. I glanced back and she was way back there. I thought to myself: “well, I’ve made it this far, I may as well keep going.”

Deciding to turn around, I got to one side of the road then proceeded to make my turn. I ran out of road in the turn and spilled by the curb, but that didn’t matter. I knew how to ride a bike and I was happy!

She hit a homer

I loved to play ball, too. Softball, dodge ball, volleyball, and basketball. When I was seven, I received a softball and a bat for my birthday. I learned to put the bat on my shoulder, then throw the ball up in the air and hit it.

Whenever we could get a game of ball going, I would play. I remember one time that summer, we had a bunch of older people playing and I was up to bat. Of course, they all moved in closer for this little girl to hit. I hit it over their heads to the railroad tracks beside the field. That was my first home run!

When I was around 12 or 13, I was downtown and saw a ball glove in the window of a store. I went in to ask how much it was. They said they could sell it to me for $2, but I would have to fix it.

The lacing on the pocket was broken. Looking closely, I thought a leather shoelace would work to fix it. I bought the glove, a leather shoelace, and soon I had my very own ball glove. That glove was well-used over the decades until just a few years ago, when I bought a new glove.

I am right-handed, but when I was 11, I broke my right arm during ball season. I stood in front of a mirror practicing how to throw so that I didn’t ‘throw like a girl’.

Stockpiles of snowballs and shenanigans

That year I played with my left arm, throwing and batting one handed, with a cast on my right arm. I still play left-handed for the most part, but will switch occasionally when I want to confuse the outfield.

In the winter, my cousin and I liked to throw snowballs. We made a stockpile, put them behind the hedge, then we threw them at cars going by. One snowball hit the driver’s window and we realized this guy was stopping. Uh, oh!

We ran onto the street the other way to our neighbour’s house, up their driveway and to their back door. Then, in huge steps we ran back to our house and over the fence. The neighbour got an irate visitor that day, but they didn’t know who had done this. We, on the other hand, decided this wasn’t a good idea and never did it again.

There was one other time my left arm got me into trouble. We were hanging out (as kids do) when I noticed the big tin sign painted on the side of the corner grocery store. I said, “I bet the sign would make a big noise if we hit it with a rock!”

I wound up and threw a rock, waiting to hear the bang of the rock on the tin. A bang came, but what I thought was a tin sign was actually a painted glass window! It made a bang for sure, and a whole lot more commotion.

The boys headed off in different directions, as did I. Somehow my parents found out and I made payments on that window until it was paid off. These many decades later, I am glad to have cleared myself of that debt.

Sign up to our free email digest for more great stories!