Thursday, January 24, 2019

How It All Began, Part Two - Larry Scott

Part One is Here:

 All Right! The Great Scott spends some time with us describing the what's it . . . that mystical experience that strikes the lifter upon discovering his newfound passion . . .

George [Paine] had one of the most impressive triceps ever developed by anyone. His external head was standing out on the outside of his arm like a banana, bursting from under his deltoid, sweeping down the backside of his arm and finally disappearing into his elbow. His triceps had little slices and cuts running cross ways down the length of it. I had never seen anything like it in my life! It almost looked deformed. I forgot everything else in life. Remembering to breathe, I let the outdoors magazines slide out of my hands as my moistened palms began to xerox text onto them.

Flipping through the magazine I could see there were several other photos of this breathtaking person doing exercises which apparently enabled him to become the hero that he was. I drank in the exercises.

Scrambling back to the shelter of our Packard, I told myself, "I can do these exercises. I"ll take down my high bar (I had an old tractor axle we had fixed up for a gymnastic bar), and use it to see if I can make these exercises work.

The drive home met with near disaster, what with one eye on the road and the other trying to get a jump start on my first workout.

I'm not sure why this particular book caught my attention and made me think I could have a hope of success. It wasn't that I hadn't seen a bodybuilder before. In fact, George Eiferman (a former Mr. America) had visited our high school a couple of years before and during an assembly had given us a demonstration of his strength. He had one of the senior class members sit on his shoulders while he did a Russian dance and at the same time blew on a trumpet. He also did a pullover with 200 pounds, all this with his shirt off. A bunch of the more courageous guys had gone up close on stage after the show to get a closer look at him. Looking from the outer edges of those crowding around him, I observed he was impossibly huge. I couldn't imagine I could ever look like him. I remember his pecs looked like hot water bottles to me. He was enormous. I assumed that he was created out of a totally different mold than anyone I had ever seen. I knew I could never hope to look even a little like Eiferman. He was beyond inspiration.

Yet when I saw this picture of George Paine, either I was older and had just a little more faith in myself, or it was the muscularity rather than the size that didn't seem quite so impossible. George Eiferman was huge and I was small, so I knew he was out of reach. But the impact of George Paine was not so much size as it was incredible muscularity. I felt maybe, just maybe, I could get a little more muscular. Certainly nothing like George Paine, but if I could just show a little more muscle it would be worth it.

I took the car home, unhitched the trailer, and began to accumulate the materials to try this experiment. I needed a barbell. One look at my old chinning bar reassured me it would do the job. Being an old tractor axle, it probably weighed about 25 to 30 pounds. It would do, I reasoned. I needed a workout bench. The wood pile was full of them. I pulled out a sun-bleached board that looked like it had fewer slivers than some of the others.

Laying the board on the root cellar and with one eye on the magazine, I started doing some of my first exercises for triceps. I frankly didn't know triceps from biceps but I was going for the "George Paine look" in the book, and it said, "If you want arms like this, you have to do these exercises." I struggled through the strange movements and after 15 or 20 minutes began to feel an unusual sensation in my arms like I had never before felt. They felt sort of heavy. I didn't know what was happening. I quickly went into the house and closed the door to the bathroom to look at myself in the mirror. My arms didn't look much different, except for the veins standing out a little more. But when I raised my arms to comb my hair, I could feel a strange tightness in my triceps that caused my heart to beat faster. I didn't know it was a pump but I knew something was definitely going on. I hurried back out to the root cellar and George Paine. Once again I went through the same exercises, just as I had done the first time. Again I experienced the same thing. This peculiar tightness in the arms. It was like I had found treasure. To say I was thrilled wouldn't have come even close to the exhilaration I was feeling.

I hid the book and made sure I did not do my exercises when any of my friends were around. Soon, however, my best friend, Don Williams, happened to drop by and caught on to what I was doing. He was the youngest in his family, so his parents didn't assign him much in the way of chores, so he was always at our house hanging around while I finished mine. I knew sooner or later he was bound to find out what I was doing, especially with all my brothers and sisters so eager to blab about my secret. He and I always did everything together anyway, so it wasn't long before I invited him to start with me to see what we could accomplish by the time school started in the fall. We both really got into it and gradually saw our arms increase in size. A couple of weeks later we began to look through the magazine stores to see if we could find some exercises for the biceps. We finally located an article by Clancy Ross (King of the Bodybuilders) and began to use both of these exercise programs like fanatics. We didn't know anything about bodybuilding. We were working only the arms, with just these two routines which we got out of Joe Weider's "Muscle Builder" magazine.

The summer wore on and my arms had grown to a fully pumped 12.5 inches. One day a bunch of my friends were over to my house and we were just lying around on the lawn, playing mumble peg, when Bobby Burton the neighborhood hero rode up on his horse. Bobby was everyone's dream of what you wanted to be. He was unassuming, good looking and a terrific athlete. He was always hitting home runs whenever we played out church softball games. I was lucky to get on first. Whereas Bobby not only hit home runs, he would hit them out of the park, over the road and sometimes over the irrigation ditch. He was one cool dude. The girls loved him and he didn't even know it. What made him so neat was even the guys liked him. Bobby tied his horse to our front fenced, hopped over it and came over and sat down on the lawn with us.

As usual, none of us wore shirts during the summer. As soon as the last day of school rolled around, summer attire switched from school clothes to faded 501 Levis, bare backs and raunchy tennis shoes filled with athletes foot ridden feet. Except for Sunday, our shirts would seldom grace our bodies again until school arrived in the fall. You can imagine the tans we would get.

I don't know how the conversation rolled around to exercise but it seemed to come out of nowhere. Bobby asked, "I hear you've been working out Larry. Let's see how strong you are." He then proposed that we have an arm wrestle.

"Oh, no, I haven't been doing anything," I stammered with a mixture of embarrassment and confusion as to what to do. I didn't want to arm wrestle Bobby Burton, the home run king, and have my knuckles buried up to my elbow in the lawn, especially in front of my jeering friends. But on the other hand, I had noticed myself getting stronger and I was curious as to what I could do against another person. I wasn't sure I wanted my opponent to be so formidable though.

No sooner did Bobby hurl down the gauntlet than the other guys began to egg me on.

"Come on, Scott. Let's see what you can do."

I suppose they had seen some change in my attitude and some muscle beginning to appear. They wanted to see a contest of the champ vs. the upstart.

We rolled over on our stomachs and began to test each others mettle. I struggled for a moment or two, but eventually Bobby beat me. Right at the peak of effort when the veins in my head were transforming me into a Martian creature, Larry Halford yelled out, "Hey, look at his muscle!" Having a death stare already fixed on my biceps, I blinked the glaze off my lens and noticed it was sticking up! As a matter of fact, it was sticking up further than I had ever seen it.

Everyone forgot about who won, it being a foregone conclusion, and began to ask me what I was doing to build muscle. "Oh, nothing," I lied. Just a few exercises here and there," I said, pleased with the attention, but not wanting to reveal my secret. After what seemed forever the last of my friends left and I rushed out to the root cellar and the tractor axle. I began to train like a demon, spurred on my the comments of my friends.

My body and brain throbbed with the experience. I had almost beaten Bobby Burton! I couldn't believe it. Not only had I done much better than anyone had expected, I had been the center of attention. They had asked me, little skinny me, for advice on how to get bigger. They really wanted to know. They were not just being polite. They were impressed. I hadn't actually realized it but my arms were bigger. I had been so close to it all, seeing my own image day after day that I hadn't been able to notice the difference. There was no mistaking how impressed the guys were, though.

I told myself, "I am going to train so hard nothing is going to stop me." I felt all my energy focused into one objective. I knew what I wanted. I wanted to be loved, and looked up to. Now, after all these years of being unrecognized I had found a way to do it. I was going to use bodybuilding to capture the things in life I so desperately wanted and felt I was lacking.

I could hardly wait for school to start. I worked out like crazy each day and never would have considered missing a workout. In fact, I had to restrain myself from working out too much. My enthusiasm was miles ahead of my body's ability to keep pace. I hungered for more size. The days ticked by but they were full of excitement. Hot summer days gave way to cool Autumn evenings. Bare backs were covered with shirts and it was time for my senior year to begin. For the first time that I could remember I was excited for school to begin.

By this time, Don and I had graduated from the crude contraptions at home to the crude contraptions in the local YMCA. As I see it now, there really wasn't much equipment at the Y, but for us it was a treasure. They only had a couple of benches and some barbells and dumbbells. We continued to read the Weider magazines and felt we needed more exercise equipment. Lacking any funds, we tried to make a few machines, but after we tore part of the ceiling down trying to attach a homemade calf machine, Mr. Glover, the manager and town grouch, threatened to give us the boot if we didn't stop destroying YMCA property. Rather than being exiled to the root cellar, we managed to limp by with just barbells and dumbbells.

My mother was quite supportive of my efforts and bought me several colored, skin-tight tee shirts to wear to school. My dad, on the other hand, thought it was all a bunch of nonsense. With my form fitting tee shirts and a little sneak flexing I began to get more attention than I had ever gotten in all my other high school years put together. Admittedly, most of it was because of the peculiar way I walked with my lats flexed and my arms out to my sides. I didn't care if others made fun. Any kind of attention was better than not being noticed at all.

My home on 205 East Eldredge Street was three miles away from school and I didn't have a car. Only the rich kids or those with jobs had cars, so I was resigned to being a lowly bus student. The buses always arrived at sch 20 or 30 minutes before school started so we would occupy ourselves by hanging out in the halls or taking the main hall tour several times. Each morning before our first class period most of the students would cruise up and down the main hall until the first bell rang. I would wear my form fitting tee shirts, with my lats flexed a little, and parade along with the flow of traffic, basking in the added attention I was getting.

Poky High had and still has a tradition of recognizing certain individuals in the graduating class. The student body selected those they felt were the most likely to succeed, best looking, best athlete, best built senior and a lot of other recognition awards. Guess which one I had my sights set on.

Gene Hancock was the acknowledged front runner for best built senior. As I remember, all through high school he had a great physique. Gene had one of those naturally good bodies that came without ever hitting the weights. The year before, I would never have considered in even my wildest imagination that I would be running for best built senior. However, as the year progressed my body continued to grow, with arms proving to be my best body part.

Gene ended up getting more votes than I did. So I lost my first contest. I was a little disappointed, but my arms were taping a full 14.5" pumped, and I was moving ahead with a determination I had never before experienced. I didn't really care if I lost to him. I could see the difference in my body with a year of training under my belt. Furthermore, even Gene was beginning to ask me questions about bodybuilding.

One day Ross Rytting, one of my friends, said, "Your arms are getting bigger, but what the purpose of all this training anyway?"

"I want to become Mr. America," I blurted out in a moment of reckless abandon.

"You can never become Mr. America. Those guys are big and besides your shoulders are too narrow. It takes a guy with broader shoulders to ever win Mr. America. You better give up. You're wasting your time."

I listened without a sound in reply. Each of his words stabbed into my heart and turned my face white with fear. It was the same sort of pain I had felt all during my adolescent years. "You are a nobody [Yes, My Name is Nobody]. You will never amount to anything. You are a small, puny kid with no potential. It haunted me. The pain of criticism cut so deep the wound wouldn't heal. I could feel it build a smoldering resolve within me. Not the kind which could be vented with a sudden outburst of rage, but a secret kind of fire which I took home, ate dinner with, and slept with. I kept it with me, not even acknowledging its existence to myself. I basically led a carefree life and tried not to think about things that hurt.

But when I entered the gym and felt the cold steel of a barbell in my palms the hidden hunger came to the surface. Then the demon of frustrated anguish was unleashed. Only the pain of exercise could make me forget the fear of not being able to reach my physical goals. I would leave the gym exhausted. As my pump and the full feeling gradually diminished, the fear of falling back to being a nobody would slowly raise its head again. It made missing a workout unbearable.

Having graduated from good old Poky High, the next year found both Don and I enrolled at Idaho State College, majoring in Physical Education, allegedly to become coaches.

Somehow, I really couldn't get my teeth into preparing to become a coach. I was concerned with my own ignorance of bodybuilding but, compared to the Phys. Ed. instructors I was a genius. Other than not knowing how to build muscle, they still believed the muscle would turn to fat if you ever stopped training. I began to realize my home state was not going to provide me with the resources I needed to continue to make progress.

By this time, as the end of the month rolled around, I was making several trips a week to Marie's Magazine Shop to latch on to any new information in the next issue of Muscle Builder magazine. I was drinking in every word of print. I don't know whether I was more interested in the workout routines, the physiques, or the vision of me basking on the beaches in sunny California while hoards of beautiful women fought over me and my incredible physique.

Each time the magazines came out I became more informed, and at the same time more confused. I didn't know what I was doing.

It gradually dawned on me. I would have to leave Idaho if I was ever going to get anywhere in bodybuilding . . .


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