Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sports Center Saturday - Run Floyd Run!

A Champion In The Family

Tales of a 1930s Long Distance Runner

Previously in this blog, I posted the tombstone of my paternal Uncle, Floyd Yohn. Uncle Floyd was 13 years old when my father was born and forty years old by the time I was born. When I was younger, I used to be told of his glory days as a high school miler and distance runner. I always thought these stories were embellished and exaggerated by the family through retelling over the years. Then came the day as a young adult when I was shown the spare room in his home where all his trophies, ribbons, awards and news clippings were on display. Wow! Well, life went on and those stories were shuffled to the back of my memories.

About a year ago, I was researching someone else in my family tree online and I stumbled across archived newspaper articles about Uncle Floyd and his high school running team. There were meet results and opinion articles by the local sports reporting staff. In one article, the writer compared Uncle Floyd to Gene Venzke, another local runner who had competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics! Another articles referred to him as the ace speedster captain of the high school cross country ream. Yet another news article reports that his coach claimed that as a freshman in practice, Floyd had posted the fastest first showing the coach had seen in over a decade, close to a five minute mile in 1937.
Floyd E. Yohn. Earl L. Yohn, John H. Yohn
(undated photo from the collection of Karen Fox)

The family  stories were true as told! Uncle Floyd had been a shining star.

One of my Dad's favorite stories was that when they were boys, my Dad would take the trolley or bus from the city where they lived to the amusement park out in the eastern suburbs. Meanwhile, Uncle Floyd would leave at the same time, but run there instead and be waiting at the entrance gate for my Dad when he arrived. Not only did Floyd het there more quickly, but since he had saved his fare money, he could spend more at the park. Another was about when the family made a rare trip (remember, this was during the Great Depression) to watch my Uncle compete in the Penn Relays.  That was a real thill for them.
Life and practicality overtook Uncle Floyd's talent and love of the sport; he never had the opportunity to aim for the Olympics - out of high school, there were bills to pay and he had to help support the family and his aging parents. But he never gave up his trophies, memories and stories. Tales of his high school exploits always made him smile.
One of the earliest articles about Uncle Floyd and his long distance talent

The  Athlete Gene skipped Me,

~ Karen the AncesTree Sprite


  1. Great post. Pity he couldn't keep going, but not many could in those days. Bet your father was proud to be his brother.

  2. Terrific post - what a wonderful family story.