Exciting gymnastics extravaganza

By Mark S. Price Contributing columnist

Jumping high into the air, I felt like one of “The Flying Wallendas” performing for an awestruck audience at the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Even as a disabled five-year-old, the word dare-devil was definitely in my repertoire.

No matter how dangerous or risky the situation, I was always front and center to participate in the high stakes activity. I never gave a second thought to the possible disastrous consequences.

While leaping off the double bed toward the beanbag chair after executing the acrobatic feat, flying through the air like Superman was the only thing on my mind.

Along with my brother John and favorite pal, Johnny Puskarich, we were doing our part to help my Aunt Margie and her family, including my cousin Lori Farrell, move into their new apartment at the top of the hill behind the Main Street Elementary School in Bentleyville, Pennsylvania.

After the four of us finished eating lunch, we grabbed the last of Lori’s toys, which were sitting at the bottom of the steps, before heading up to her attic bedroom.

John led the way up the stairwell with the Weebles Haunted House followed by our cousin with her Spirograph. Johnny and I brought up the rear carrying the game of Operation and the Fisher-Price Chatter Telephone, respectively.

Halfway up the stairs, the play phone slipped out of the my hand. Luckily I had the pulley cord wrapped around my hand; so it didn’t completely tumble down to the living area.

Instead, the popular plastic toy with a smiley face on wheels bounced up the wooden treads one at a time with the red handset on a yellow string swinging to and fro as it tagged along for the ride.

When our little band of merry-makers reached the top, we put down the toys and walked into the room directly in front of us instead of turning the corner. The unlatched door was our open invitation.

The completely empty room was a blank canvas waiting to be painted. It was massive and our voices bounced off the walls.

After the freckle-faced lad asked if it was going to be her playroom, the lass with the pageboy bob said it was going to be the nursery for her new sibling, who would arrive by the end of the month.

When the mischievous crew finally made it back to Lori’s bedroom with toys in hand, all of her furniture had been put in place along with the rest of her belongings.

“I have a totally groovy idea,” exclaimed the pastor’s firstborn as he spun around to face his cohorts while throwing his finger into the air. “I’m pretty sure youns will love it.”

After John went over to the corner of the room and dragged the bean bag chair next to the double bed, he explained his funky plan to use it as a landing device for an extreme bed jumping extravaganza.

“That is a neat idea,” I declared as my face lit up like a Christmas tree. “I can’t believe you ever even thought of it.”

“You always think of the most fun things to do,” I added with great enthusiasm.

Lori pulled her kids’ play table next to the dresser on the opposite side of the bed. Then she asked her neighbor boy to bring over one of the two little chairs to set it next to the four-legged wooden surface.

“We can use these to climb up onto the dresser,” stated the six-year-old girl as she demonstrated while extending her hands from atop the table. “It will be a whole lot easier than opening up the dresser drawers.”

The freckle-faced lad led his posse as we scaled the oblong clothing bureau with the two rising first graders bringing up the rear.

“Can you pull Mark up while I push him from behind,” queried the brown-haired lad as he picked up his best buddy by his legs. “I just don’t want him to fall over the edge.”

Lori grabbed ahold of my arms and helped pull me to the top of their makeshift diving platform before the lad of Korean descent climbed aboard.

Our fearless leader took the first plunge onto the bed jumping gauntlet to show his proteges how the daring feat was to be accomplished.

The six-year-old did a front flip into the air and bounced off the bed on his backside before sticking the landing as he went headfirst into the bean bag chair.

“Jeepers creepers,” announced the downstairs neighbor while holding onto his best buddy. “That is off the hook. I can’t wait til it’s my turn.”

The minister’s niece was the next guinea pig to try out the impromptu trampoline challenge as she readied herself on the edge of the dresser.

The young lass jumped onto the bed with her knees and bounced across it a couple times before doing a belly flop into the chair.

“Do you mind if I go next,” asked Johnny looking my blue-eyes with concern. “Cause I really would like to be down below to help you if you need me.”

“Definitely,” I replied as I smiled while placing a hand on my favorite pal’s shoulder. “I like that you will be waiting for me at the end of the track.”

Without a moment to spare, my big brother arrived to hold me by the hand while the six-year-old rising first grader took a flying leap into the air.

With outstretched arms and legs, the little shaver did a belly flop onto the bed as if he was jumping into a swimming pool. Then he did a somersault before rolling off the mattress into the expanded polystyrene-filled polyester chair.

The moment of truth had finally arrived. It was time for me to try my hand at some creative acrobatic stunts on the imaginary gymnastics mat.

Instead, I opted to imitate the stunts of my cousin when I bounded onto the bed landing with my knees tucked up under me.

When I bounced back up into the air coming down on my feet, I overshot my mark as I flew off in the general direction of the stuffed bean bag chair.

Luckily, my best friend was right there to pull me down as we both fell in the landing device and rolled off the soft cushion to the other side onto the floor.

“Jeepers creepers,” declared the older of the two laying on the hardwood planks with his arms wrapped around me directly on top. “Are you okay, buddy?”

“Yeah! I’m fine,” I mentioned as I laughed out loud at what just transpired. “I falled on top of you. You kept me from getting hurt.”

“I can’t believe how much fun this is,” I continued with great exuberance while climbing off my companion helping me up. “I can’t wait to take another turn.”

Performing acrobatic stunts on our makeshift gymnastics venue was definitely a lot more exciting than carrying boxes up the stairs from off the moving truck.

Mark S. Price is a former city government/county education reporter for The Sampson Independent. He currently resides in Clinton.