When a friend told me that he had attended Jack Benny Middle School, and that the nickname of his sports teams was the 39ers, I of course made him hand over his beer and threw him out of the house for telling such an obvious fib. Sadly, it was his house. We straightened it out later.
But then I discovered that, holy crap, his story is true. Jack Benny Middle School is located in Waukegan, IL, and its sports teams are indeed the 39ers. Gym murals don’t lie!
Jack Benny was born in Chicago but grew up in Waukegan, and the middle school was dedicated in his name in 1961. One of Benny’s running gags was that he was always 39 years old, even when he was pushing 80. I felt I had to explain that because recently I ran across a reader who didn’t know that Mike Ditka had been a player in the NFL before he became a coach. I guess you have to be careful with assuming that people know ancient history.
Their sports teams seem to sport the word “Benny” on their jerseys, which is a missed opportunity to me. I would have gone with “39ers”. That would look awesome. And while opponents were figuring out what the hell it meant, 39ers’ players could be scoring layups right and left. Instead of getting scored on, as we see here.
Also the school answering machine should have a message in Rochester’s voice.