Harold Hill on Exercise

Today, a post on mark_evanier reminded me of something from my camp days. Mark linked to this You-Tube Video of Dinah Shore and Nanette Fabray singing one of the lesser-known songs by Meredith Willson, composer of The Music Man and The Unsinkable Molly Brown. The video was a pretty-poor, chopped-up version of the song; I remembered a much longer version, sung by Robert Preston.

Well, I found it embedded here, with a downloadable MP3 here.

What was the song? “Chicken Fat”. Here’s a sample of the lyrics:

Push up
Every morning
Ten times.
Push up
Starting low.
Once more on the rise.
Nuts to the flabby guys!
Go, you chicken fat, go away!
Go, you chicken fat, go!

Yup. It’s a calestentics song. It was commissioned by John Kennedy for his new Youth Fitness Program. A copy of this record was sent to every school in the US. The goal was that it would be played over the PA every morning while students did calisthenics. The version I found online was that 6:30 School Version. At camp I remember the shorter 2:30 DJ version, which we actually did occasionally during dancing. More history on the song can be found here (look on 10/3).

One wonders, with all the push for healthier kids today why an approach like isn’t done, perhaps with an updated tune, or perhaps with this “Harold Hill” version. Actually, the answer is easy: as with anything else, it is easier to give lip-service to the problem than to actually address it by increasing instructional time to accomodate more movement in school.