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170807 August 7, 2017


Michael F. Shawver

LHS '66

May 9, 1948 - May 4, 2012

Submitted by Tom Provost, LHS '66

This an old obit but I don't believe Mike is listed on the Memory page for 1966.
He was a good friend of mine that I had tried to track down in the past.)

    Michael F. Shawver of Puyallup, WA passed away May 4, 2012 at the age of 63. Michael was born on May 9, 1948 in Wichita, KS. He graduated from Lee HS in Huntsville AL in 1966 and Highline Community College with an associates degree. He served in the Army during Vietnam. Michael was an active member of Spanaway United Methodist Church and Kairos Prison Ministry. He is survived by his wife Sharon Shawver, daughters Veronica (Kyle) Hagman, and Elizabeth (Brad) Burlingame, brother John Shawver, 6 grandchildren and many extended family members. 

Collins (C.E.) Wynn
LHS '64

    Compulsive behavior is in us all.  I’ve heard Golfers describe their game as a compulsion.  Some might describe their enjoyment of TV game shows as an addictive compulsion.  My sky diving adventures were sort of that way.  Well, at pre-‘64 Lee High School there was a common compulsive activity among the male population called “Chunkin”.

    Chunkin’ was a game of skill (some might say chance) played by many of the young men at Lee High School..  It was a democratic game in that everyone from the best to the worst could become addicted to an equal degree.   All that was needed to play was a hard surface of some description such as concrete or tile with at least one discernible line, a sharp cornered floor/wall joint, or a sink.  The game pieces were readily available in that they were nickels, dimes, or quarters.  

    Unlike marbles, which had two variants - either play for fun or play for keeps;  Chunkin’ was all keepers from the start.  I suppose buckets could have been used as well but I don’t see how there could have been any thrill with buckets since there would have been very little chance the coins would bounce out; plus, with buckets,  you’d have to go find one (the logistics tail) whereas lines, walls, and sinks were everywhere and readily available.  This game applied that age-old axiom – keep it simple, stupid.

    Two players were required as a minimum.  One person could always chunk alone but only for practice – it wasn’t possible to lose your lunch money to yourself.  The number of players above two was infinite but anything above 5 or 6 was unmanageable and unnecessarily large crowds had a way of attracting the unwanted and disruptive attention of school administrators.  It was highly desirable to have a non-player Judge available to settle disagreements without the players having to resort to violence as they clawed for the coins scattered on the floor or in the sink.

    The game was played one of three basic ways:  Chunkin’ the Line; Chunkin’ the Wall; or, Chunkin’ the Sink and all were variations on a central theme – coins tossed at a target with the closest being the winner – and it was definitely winner-take-all.  The skill involved was mostly hand-eye coordination with “the touch” (a little hip english with a soft, arching flat toss of the coin) playing a big part.  Athletic ability and stamina were not required which explains why my friend and colleague Brewster Smith was so good at it.

    The players stood behind a mutually agreeable line some distance from the target – generally 6 to 8 feet.  Stepping across the line was a foul and the player forfeited his coin.  The order of play was normally right to left and each player in order would toss (chunk) his coin to the target with the object being to get as close at possible.  In the case of the line the goal was to get as close as possible without going over;  wall play was simply the closest except that “leaners” trumped everything; sink play required that the coin not bounce out but remain in the bowl.  In case of a tie, the tying players (ever how many) continued play with new coins each time until each either went broke and quit, lost out or won it all.

    Each of the coins had their advantages and disadvantages depending a great deal on the style and abilities of the individual players.  To me, quarters were by far the preferred game pieces.  Since they were larger and heavier than the other coins, quarters had more heft to them and were easier to control.  Using dimes was like playing with horseshoes made of foam rubber – not nearly enough weight to be manageable.  I suppose the nickels were somewhere in-between.  An additional advantage of quarters was that you could be a big winner far faster than with dimes – of course one could be sent home crying to his girlfriend far faster that way as well.  Besides that, for me dimes tended to be “rollers” which were completely unpredictable and uncontrollable.

    An unplanned positive attribute of the game was the availability of the defense plea - “Plausible Deniability”.  If a player were not caught during the 2 second act of actually chunkin’ he could claim he had only paused long enough to see what the others were doing while he was on his way to give volunteer service in the library.  While not probable, the excuse was at least plausible; some was better than none at all.

    Over a period of 5 or 6 years I generally broke even; some days up a little (even Fat City on occasion) and some days down.  The only reason I didn’t lose a lot was that I didn’t have a lot.  Of course when a kid lost everything he had,  it was quite a shock regardless of the amount.  Flat busted was not a good state to be in especially when one had a girlfriend to support.   I think the big winner over the entire 5-6 year run of the game was Brewster Smith – which proves everyone could be good at something even if it was meaningless and trivial.

    Some months after graduating I learned a valuable lesson about gambling that has stuck with me over all these years.  While in Army basic training during the summer of ’64 I let myself get sucked into a poker game one night and lost the last $40 I had.  Since it was still 3 weeks ‘til payday I had to do without any amenities and depend on the mercy of my buddies for smokes and a 3.2 beer or two on Saturday.  (I’ve since quit smoking and graduated from weak beer to cheap wine.)  I have never forgotten the humiliation and have never had the urge to gamble since.  I’ve been to Las Vegas and Biloxi many times over the years and still go often but only for the food, fun, shows, and entertainment.  I once spent 3 days in Las Vegas and did not put so much as a quarter in a slot.  I prefer to spend most of my money on whiskey and women and waste the rest on household expenses.

        Memphis, TN - This week we are digging out an old story from our archives to share with our new readers and those of you who read it before, but can't remember. We may be doing this from time to time, and I hope you will once again enjoy these moments from our youth.

    School is starting back, and as we look back at our own school days we see a lot of difference in the education system of today compared to the system which we endured. I'm not trying to get political, but I know we had a lot less outside influence in our lives when we were in school than the kids do today, and for those memories, I am grateful.