May 30th…“WHEN YOU WORKED AS A CUSTODIAN AT GLENWOOD HEIGHTS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, WHAT DID YOU DO TO HAVE FUN WITH THE STUDENTS THERE?
Clark Kent (mild-mannered newspaper reporter) may have jumped into a phone booth to emerge as Superman, but me? I jumped into my Custodian Work Room and emerged as “CUBBIE”, The Glenwood Heights Elementary School baby lion mascot!!! Of course, I wasn’t all THAT mild-mannered around the school each day, cause I was always on the hunt to have fun in any way possible with the Kindergarten through 4th Grade boys and girls that came to see us each day for education and a grand old “Sharing And Caring” time…….Shooowahhh! 😉 You see, our Grade School level mascot was the younger equivalent of the Laurin Intermediate School mascot, which was a full grown Laurin “Lion”…….therefore, we were the “Lion Cubs”; and thereby “Cubbie” was born.
Our school was so blessed to have among us the one and only Sylvia Wiser. Not only did her children attend that great school, but Sylvia worked in various capacities of service over the years. She was a beloved Playground Monitor for a long time and eventually even moved her talents inside the school building to being an Office Assistant to our grand secretaries. Another of Sylvia’s many talents was the ability to create a full length Lion Cub costume for supporting our many award assemblies and other school events.
All work and no play makes Elliott a dull boy, so rather than just sweeping and cleaning, I had the pure joy (and a little mischief) in becoming the mystery person inside that Cubbie costume on a regular basis for the kids to enjoy.
It was decided, at the inception of this new personality, that Cubbie should have an air of mystery about him. The students were never to know who was actually in the Cubbie costume at any time. The “lion cub” person inside that costume was to remain mute and not say a word, so as to give away the identification of who was making the mascot “come alive” at any occasion of his appearing before the students. Whenever it was my turn to make Cubbie come alive, it was total elation on my part, in allowing me to take on a completely different persona that could do almost anything and get away with not being chastised as I WOULD have had done to me in regular circles of social etiquette. The costume was complete with furry slippers, mitten “paws” and a long tail. The head of the costume had been built over a construction workers hard hat and the only way I could see out of the “face” was via a small, black-screen “nose” in the front of the snout. This tunnel vision necessitated that I constantly had to keep my “head” on the move so as to see where I was going AND to see if any kids were sneaking up behind me to pull a prank on this poor ol lion cub.
“Curiosity kills the cat” and sometimes, the curiosity of some students just got to be too much about WHO was inside the Cubbie costume. So much so, that I’d have little ones come for a hug and they’d then grab the face of the costume and look inside the little black-screened “nose” to do an attempt to see who was inside the costume THIS time. “Heyyyyyy everybody, it’s Elliott inside Cubbie!!!!” Well, well, the jig was up and so I’d just continue the fun as best I could 😉 I almost fainted, on a number of occasions, because there was no way to really get a sufficient supply of oxygen into the costume’s “head” for an oxygen fueling for all my wild antics and cavorting. Necessity being the mother of invention, I came up with a way to breath by drilling a hole in the “mouth” of the costume and then cutting a large plastic tube that I held in place with my teeth while the front of that tube barely jutted out the mouth for enough fresh air for me to breath and keep up the fun.
I was so thankful for our sweet-spirited Principal, Esther Baker (and later Carol Anderle and Jeff Newport) for allowing me to get “wild and woolly” during our Cubby Awards Assemblies while in my Cubbie Costume. In my days of wearing the lion cub costume, “Cubbie” wore a Triple Extra Large school T-shirt over the costume. This way, I could put my “paw” up under the T-shirt and imitate my lion heart beating heavily from physical exertion or from showing I loved someone. As I stood out in the school hallway, our Principal, Esther Baker, would welcome the entire student body to the awards assembly and get them quieted down a bit. Then, like the master of ceremony at a circus, she’d give me the grand entrance by saying, “Come on in, Cubbie!!!”. That was my cue to come running, full speed, into the gymnasium and make a slide “into Home Plate” and end up laying on my side in front of Esther and waving at the crowd.
Jumping up from the floor, I’d then prance around the gym and play “peekaboo” with the kids by placing my “paws” up over the big eyes of the costume and then, lifting a “paw”, pop one “eye” open and then the other. Swinging my lion’s tail, I’d saunter over to Esther and give her a side hug and THEN, I’d even have the audacity to sometimes take my “paw” and mess up her hairdo. THAT was when the kids really went wild with giggles!!! Esther would chastise Cubbie with “Behave yourself, Cubbie!! Now you just go over there in the corner till you can be good!” Oh boy, this was too fun! I’d mimic being sad by slumping my shoulders and hanging my lion head down low and drag my lion’s slippers along into the nearest corner. Kids loved it and so did I!! 😉 Pretty soon, Esther would ask, “Can you be good now, Cubbie?” I’d silently nod my lion’s head and, with a shrug of my furry shoulders, we’d then get on with the awards ceremony. At other awards assemblies, someone else would get inside the Cubbie Costume. Many of the kids would see me standing nearby and realize that I wasn’t making the costume “come alive” on that occasion. A number of the little sweethearts would say to me, “We knew it wasn’t you inside Cubbie this time, cause that person just sits there and doesn’t do anything funny like you do!”
“Whoever has the most FUN, wins!” That was my motto then…..and now! The energy of a child’s smile still lights up the face of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.