Every summer when we traveled by train, then trolley, to visit my grandparents in Georgia, my grandmother, a former school principal and teacher, would make us go outside for at least 30 minutes every day. She would say, “President Kennedy wants children to get outside to exercise in the sunshine.”
My brother and I reluctantly complied, but we may have taken it too far one afternoon when we threw pebbles at their honey-making operation, barely making it inside the screen door before the bees launched their assault on us. I never had seen a swarm of hundreds of bees until then or since. On another calmer day, we picked blackberries and brought them back to Grandmother for her to make a pie of tender, homemade crust – one that I have not been able to match.
I just learned today that President Kennedy and his administration had engaged the talents of “Music Man” songwriter Meredith Willson along with singer Robert Preston to encourage children to exercise during school by listening to the “Chicken Fat” song. I’ve heard this song in recent weeks on a TV commercial; but I don’t remember our teachers using it in elementary school, which I wish they had to make our exercise times more challenging and enjoyable.
Also, I could not pinpoint the singer, thinking, at first, he was Fred Astaire until I searched “chicken fat singer.” Eureka! I’m wondering if anyone else remembers exercising to this song in class.