Five Unknown Facts About The Life Of Lawrence R. “Herkie” Herkimer
Known as the “Grandfather of Modern Cheerleading,” Lawrence R. “Herkie” Herkimer has shaped cheerleading into what it is today. Starting with a loan of six hundred dollars, from a friend of his father-in-law, Herkie began what would become an industry-first in the cheerleading world. Setting up shop in his garage, the first spirit sticks were painted, and Herkie shipped uniforms directly from his home in Dallas, Texas.
Here are 5 unknown facts about the life of Herkie:
1. Herkie's love for live stage performance began in 1950 at the Dallas Summer Musicals as a tap dancer in the Broadway blockbuster, “High Button Shoes”. He experienced first-hand the demands of show business and the art of entertaining.
2. Herkie proudly served in the United States Navy during WWII on the USS Jamestown (AGP-3) in the Philippines for over 2 years. He specialized in Compass Navigation. One day while cleaning the compass, it slipped out of his hand and into the ocean. His “gymnastic ability” came in handy as he quickly dove off the side of the ship into the water to recover the compass. Herkie was awarded the American Campaign Medal, Victory Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Medal and Philippine Liberation Campaign Ribbon.
3. Herkie loved the circus and rarely missed attending the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus. He continued the tradition sharing the fun with his children and grandchildren. Herkie was recruited to travel with a flying trapeze act as the trapeze “catcher”. However, the performance schedule interfered with attending high school and his education always came first.
4. Herkie believed in supporting his local Dallas community. The March of Dimes Organization hosted a celebrity cook-off fundraiser, and Herkie jumped at the chance to get involved. Not many people knew about Herkie’s culinary talents, but his favorite recipe won! He won the Silver Skillet Award for Best Entrée – “Herkimer Frog Legs”! It also helped that his friend, professional Chef Dean Fearing, flew the frog legs in fresh from France.
5. Herkie loved ice cream, any flavor but peach. One of his first jobs was selling ice cream at Ashburn’s Ice Cream Parlor in Dallas, Texas. He peeled fresh peaches to make the peach ice cream; he would peel a peach then eat a peach. He ate so many fresh peaches that eventually he began to despise them. Herkie’s personal favorite ice cream flavor was coffee, with a small drizzle of Hersey’s chocolate syrup.
Additional Random Facts about Herkie: Invented the poms, the spirit stick, and had a megaphone-shaped pool in his backyard!