We last left off with Steve moving back home with his mother Goldie, and her new husband, Earl Maylone. They moved into a cozy house on 76th Avenue in Oakland and Steve was able to continue at Frick Junior High School. He spent his last year of junior high school getting re-acquainted with his mother and new stepfather and becoming the king of arm wrestling among his buddies.
One day while Steve was delivering newspapers, he met Joe Gambina, a boy about his age, who lived on his route. They got to talking and the subject of arm wrestling came up. Soon they locked arms and the match began-and shortly ended!
In a flash Joe pinned Steve's arm to the table. This really shocked Steve because he was much larger than Joe. He told Joe they would have a rematch another time-when he didn't have more newspapers to deliver.
As Steve hopped back on his bicycle and continued down the street on his route, he could not get that arm wrestling match out of his mind. Just how did Joe beat him when Steve was so much bigger? Steve would not discover the answer until a few months later.
Some time after the disappointing arm wrestling match (at least it was to Steve), he bought a bicycle rack from Joe. The day he went to Joe's house to pick it up, he found the answer he'd searched for. When he asked for Joe at the front door, Joe s sister said, "He's in the garage - working out." Steve stared at her and asked, "Working out? What's that?' "She just pointed toward the garage and told him to go see for himself.
When Steve entered the garage there was Joe lifting weights. Steve asked what he was doing and Joe handed him a copy of Strength and Health Magazine. On the front cover was a very well-developed John Grimick. After discussing "working out" with Joe and thumbing through a few more body-building magazines, Steve knew that was how he wanted to look.
Steve looked Joe right in the eye and said, "Can we workout together?"
"Sure," replied Joe, who added, "I'll only charge you fifty cents a workout." For the next month, Joe and Steve worked on bodybuilding routines. By then, Steve understood what he was doing and purchased a 200 lb. set of used weights he found in a classified ad. Then Steve's garage became his "workout gym!"
He began by recording his workout schedule of weights used and repetitions (reps) on one of the interior garage walls. Steve patterned his squat rack after one he saw in a body building magazine. That "garage gym" was the start of his quest to reach the top of the body building world! By the way, Joe became a barber and Steve became Mr. Universe!
Steve attended Oakland's Castlemont High School from 1941 to 1944. Castlemont included sophomore through senior grade levels.
Steve's sophomore year launched the start of his successful high school years. He was doing quite well in all of his classes-especially Phys. Ed., of course. The football coach always kept a cl
The coach was quite impressed at how Steve continually out-performed his classmates. After observing Steve for several days, the coach asked him if he would like to play defensive guard for the football team. This happened just two months after Steve began working out. Already he was gaining muscle and bulk.
After much consideration, Steve told the coach he wanted to wait until the next year to join the team. Steve wanted more time to gain in size so he could be a better defensive guard.
Ed Yarick was a noted body building coach with a gym in Oakland. After Steve had spent a few months working out in the garage and had achieved a good physical base, he learned about Ed's gym. Steve stopped by the gym and Ed explained his training methods and nutrition guidance to Steve. He liked what he heard and decided it was time to workout at Ed's gym instead of the garage.
In the summer following his sophomore year, 16 year old Steve loaded pallets at the Del Monte cannery in Oakland. The next year he worked at the Army Quartermaster Supply Depot. He loaded railroad cars and trucks with war supplies. By that time, World War II was in full swing and Castlemont high school was put on half-day sessions. Steve attended classes in the morning and continued to work at the Depot in the afternoon. The students took mandatory classes and received credit for afternoon work.
During his senior year he attended high school from 8:00 am to 1 2:00 pm, then walked to his job at the Depot where he worked from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. After work he would head for the gym and three days a week worked out from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Since Steve spent so much of his time either working or working out, it left little time for the usual high school activities including proms, parties and participating or attending school sports.
When he wasn't going to school, working or working out, he was collecting metal for use in the war effort. Residents and businesses would set out their scrap or discarded metal at the curb for pick up.
One day while Steve was picking up war metal, he found a set of body building wall pulleys in the curb pick up. He really wanted them, but knew that the metal was going to the war effort. Always thinking ahead, Steve took the pulleys and replaced them with an equal amount of iron he gathered from his home.
Since Ed only had one set of pulleys in the gym, Steve gave him the other set. Ed was delighted to get them and they immediately installed them across from the other set. Now they had the first set of cross-over pulleys in the Oakland area!
Although Steve's schedule left little time for leisure, he did manage to squeeze in a bit of fun time. He and his friends enjoyed swimming in the saltwater pool at the Sunny Cove Recreational Park. The Oakland bay was just beyond the pool area. Steve especially enjoyed watching Ed Yarick and Jack La Lanne perform hand-balancing feats at the poolside. He also marvelled at the way Jack would row a boat out and all around the rough bay.
Another activity enjoyed by Steve and his gym buddies was chowing down! Body building also builds appetites-especially in those growing teenage boys! They looked forward to the holidays because if they planned right, they were assured more than one hardy holiday meal. They set up a scheme that included a huge holiday lunch at one guy's house, followed later by a festive dinner feast at another buddy's. In between snacks filled out the remainder of the day!
During the winter Steve enjoyed skating at the local Oakland ice rink. On one occasion, he was at the rink with Ed and Alice Yarick and some of their gym buddies. They noticed a guy in a tight T-shirt on the ice showing off and just acting obnoxious. They wanted to put him in his place. Steve s friends suggested he take off his baggy wool shirt and skate in front of the guy. Ed immediately bet Steve $5 that he wouldn't do it.
When Steve heard "five bucks" he tossed off the heavy shirt and revealed a tight red T-shirt that showed off his great build. He glided onto the ice and passed by the obnoxious guy without even a glance back at him. The guy stared at Steve in utter amazement and nearly lost his balance before heading toward the nearest exit! Steve casually skated back to the group, collected his five-dollars and quickly put on his baggy shirt.
All during high school, Steve continually hid that magnificent physique behind loose-fitting flannel shirts or sweatshirts and regular Levi's jeans. No one beyond his closest friends knew he was developing such a great body.
That changed on the last day of school, the day of the senior picnic. Steve traded his usual baggy wear for skin-tight Levi's and a size small T-shirt stretched over his rippling physique. Steve was the talk of the campus that final school day! His name was on the lips of everyone at school-especially the girls.
At the picnic, Steve was still the main topic of conversation. A group of ogling girls were overheard talking about olives being aphrodisiacs. One young lady pointed to Steve and remarked, "I'd love to have a CAN of olives then go behind the bushes with HlM!"
With more than two years of hard work and dedication to body building, Steve finally wanted to show his classmates what he had accomplished. And he sure did! To this day, his classmates still talk about the sensation he caused at the senior picnic in 1944.
Those were Steve's high school days, next time we'll learn how Steve became an active participant in World War II.
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