Growing up 100 yards away from Struthers High School, I spent a lot of time there when school wasn't in session, but something was going on. The school had a huge auditorium, better known as a Field house, that held the largest seating capacity at time of any other place in the county.
Being on a first name basis with all of the Janitors at the school, ensured me of easy free access to any event that was going on. I just had to learn which door to go to on any given day. Occasionally, I was asked to hold "The Crowd Control Rope" at Basketball games. This was a long clothes line they strung around the perimeter of the court to keep people off the precious hardwood floor that was buffed to a mirror-like finish. The Principal, Howdy, was fanatical about keeping street shoes off of the hardwood. Detentions were given out for student violators!
Before Youngstown State University did their major expansion and built The Beegley Auditorium, they held all of their events at The Struthers Field House. I got to see a lot of concerts including: Kenny Rodgers and The First Addition, The Fifth Dimension, The Letterman, The Four Seasons, Blood, Sweat, and Tears, and Alice Cooper, to name a few. All YSU home Basketball games were there. That was in the days when they fielded some great teams under Coach Dom Roselli and were nationally ranked.
Every year for decades, brought The Aut-Mori Grotto Circus to SHS Field house, for four days in March. The students had to tolerate the stench of Tiger urine in the hallways and piles of manure from all of the circus animals on the practice fields behind the school. During my high school years, I was hired as one of the student workers to help with clean-up after each performance. It's amazing how much trash is generated at a circus! From Cotton Candy to Giant Suckers and basically anything that was sticky, had to be shoveled and swept from the Grandstands. Soft drinks were never permitted in Howdy's Field house except during the circus. I understood why, afterwards. It seemed everything was coated with a syrupy goo. Floor, bleachers, and Seats all had to be mopped and wiped down with hot, soapy water.
A tradition of sleeping at the school on Saturday night was popular amongst all of us Student Workers. We brought our sleeping bags and slept on the stage of the high school auditorium. We got permission because Saturday's show ended well after Midnight and the first show Sunday was at 10 A. M. The excuse was having to travel back and forth and not being able to get enough rest.(Right, remember, I lived across the street!) Of course, most of us didn't sleep a wink and partied with a lot of the Circus People. Some of THOSE stories can be left untold!
I started attending most practices of the football team when I was five or six. Most of the players knew me because of my older sisters and didn't mind me hanging around. I remember the the coach embarrassing some players that had a hard time catching a punted ball. The coach would have me stand fifty yards away and punt several balls to me. I seldom missed catching one. I guess I had a knack for it. The coach would say that if a six year old could catch a ball, he was sure his players could. Glad I could help! Now I know why I got some dirty looks.
I was pretty much a fixture at the school until I got out of the primary grades. Most of the kids knew me and I loved the attention I got from the older kids. The Cheerleaders and Majorettes would shower me with hugs and kisses. Not being the least bit shy, I enjoyed every minute of it. One of the Majorettes remembered me when I was in her eighth-grade History Class, years later. It didn't help. She wound up paddling me for acting up a couple of times. Believe me, she still had strong wrists from twirling that Baton all those years!