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"Hap" Skubrowski was
of Polish descent. And so
he wanted to be known as
 

The Pole
Vaulter

by JACKSON V. SCHOLZ

Author of "Condemned Baskets," etc.

IT was only during the middle of his sophomore year that "Hap" Skubrowski actually began to get wise to himself. The student body of Rowford College had, up to that time, been more or less tolerant of Hap's adolescent sense of humor, but even the most dogged resistance can be worn down in time.

The revolt got under way when certain of the students conceived a unique form of greeting, reserved for Hap alone. This greeting, after the manner of a salute, consisted of holding the nose delicately between thumb and forefinger.

It was rather a pity, too, because Hap was a likable guy. His whole trouble lay in the fact that he had not yet recognized punning as the lowest form of humor. He had developed the trait in high school, where he had been considered very funny indeed. The payoff was that he was still lavishing his wit upon men who had outgrown that sort of thing.

So, after facing a considerable amount of nose holding, Hap decided to take serious stock of himself. He realized his puns weren't being appreciated anymore, but his first reaction to that was entirely personal. He logically assumed that his puns were no longer original enough to attract the attention they deserved.

He must, therefore, lay off until seized by a real inspiration; until he had conceived a masterful play on words which would rock the school to its foundations.

Hap didn't know where he'd find such an inspiration, but he set about the search. His wanderings led him to the unfamiliar territory of the gym, where he found the track and field men cavorting about in an early-season workout.

Hap was interested. The guys seemed to be having a pretty good time. He almost forgot he was searching for the pun of puns, until, out of a clear sky, it burst upon him in all its glory.

Casually, he approached a small group of his acquaintances, ignoring as much as possible the graphic symbol of the pinched noses. He entered into conversation, and gradually their suspicious attitudes relaxed. After a while Hap found his opening.

"I ought to be a natural in that event," he said, nodding toward the vaulters.

His listeners tensed, expecting something. But finally, to Hap's great relief, one of them asked him, "Why?"

"Well," said Hap, holding the deadpan with some difficulty, "if you give a little thought to my name, and the nationality of my ancestors, couldn't you truthfully say that I'd be a Pole vaulter?"

There was a moment of thoughtful silence, then one group uncorked an impulsive guffaw. All of them grabbed their noses, to be sure, but there was true appreciation, nevertheless, gleaming from their eyes. Hap's heart swelled with pride.

EVEN as a pun it caught the public fancy, and the wisecrack spread about the gym, bringing smiles. "Sleepy" Myslowitz, first-string sprinter, wandered over.

"I suppose that makes me a Pole sprinter, then," he suggested.

"To tell the truth," Hap retorted, "my slow wits couldn't figure that one out."

It was a risky thing to do. Groans followed, almost spoiling the effect of his masterpiece. Hap saw the danger and changed the subject.

"I apologize for the last one," he said humbly. "I guess I'd better stick to vaulting."

"Swell idea," agreed one of the listeners. "You might break your neck, and then we wouldn't have to listen to any more of your puns."

The suggestion gained favor almost immediately. "Why don't you give it a whirl?" another urged. "We'd be the only team in the conference to have a Pole vaulter."

It was an idiotic thing, even to consider, but Hap, at that moment, was not in a normal frame of mind. In the first place, he was foolishly elated over the "Pole vaulter" crack. Secondly, he resented the sincerity of the man who hoped he'd break his neck. Thirdly, the distinction of being the only Pole vaulter in the conference did appeal to him more than he would have believed possible.

The combination of these three things instilled the warm zest of achieve...

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