Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Guestblog: 8 Years to Reach the Summit

Below is a guestblog from one of our favorite bloggers Jerry Augustine. Mr. Augustine is a Ridge Road resident who has shared a variety of posts about living in Middletown from experiences with his father and life as a veteran. Once again, we are honored to have a piece from him with some fantastic photos. 

Past posts about Middletown History from Jerry Augustine can be read here:

Photos ----YMCA newspaper, Hall of Fame dinner, Franco Columbu congratulating me. In competition. Mt. Holyoke. 

By Jerry Augustine

 August 4, 2013, my 46 year anniversary of returning from the hell of Vietnam combat.
 I literally kissed the tarmac when I disembarked from the passenger jet at Bradley field in South Windsor, CT. I made it home.
 I abruptly removed my dress uniform when arriving home as the Vietnam war was becoming more and more unpopular as 1967 was winding down.
Getting back into civilian life was easier than I thought it would be. I joined my dad in his self employed roofing business and began working immediately. 
It was very difficult for me to sit still as I became very anxious. I couldn't work enough and when I wasn't working I'd be lifting weights.

 The first week upon returning I contacted my good friend, Wayne Lizotte, in Longmeadow, MA. He returned from Nam 6 months before me as his three year tour of duty was over.  He and I were training with bamboo poles and sandbags as makeshift gym equipment every chance we got when we were in base camp. He would tell me that I had great potential to become a formidable competitive bodybuilder. He even took me into downtown Tay Ninh to have my physique photographed. We became great friends and I trusted him so I went along. To tell you the truth I thought it was a little weird and was a little embarrassed.

 Only 4 weeks after returning to the states, Wayne brought me to the Mr. New England body building championships at Mountain Park in Holyoke, Ma. The contest took place annually on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend.

 I was amazed at the condition one could achieve by dedicating himself wholeheartedly to this sport. I was hooked. I added on to the weight set that my dad bought me for Christmas when I was 17. I would visit Forest City Welding on Saybrook road when I had some extra money to have benches, racks, and other gym equipment welded up to add on to my home gym in my mom's basement. John Combe, the proprietor, and I became good friends.  It seemed like all my spare time was spent training in my mother's basement. I couldn't get enough.

 When the roofing season ended that year in the winter of 1967, I had to seek employment elsewhere. I applied at Pratt & Whitney aircraft to become an engineering draftsman.  I was hired in Feb. 1968 and completed their 12 week indoctrination course in 8 weeks. I worked there for exactly 5 years when I became restless and had the desire to work out of doors again.  I joined my dad again in Feb. 1973. I enjoyed the physical work more and also the aspect of working for myself.

 During 1968 Wayne became my mentor and guided me forward to my first competition, Mr. New England 1968. I was fortunate to place 5th in the tall division. This experience sparked me even further to dedicate myself to winning the Mr. New England title. I was hungry.
Every year at Mountain Park in Holyoke, MA, there were three contests held. These were held by Mr. Ed Jubinville of Jubinville Gym Equipment which is still in business and owned by Ed's children. Ed was the world famous muscle control artist and judged many Mr. Olympia contests, the premier contest in bodybuilding. The Mr. East Coast, was at the end of May, Junior Mr. America, at the end of July, and Mr. New England, on labor day weekend. From 1969 on I would enter these contests. The Mr. East Coast and Junior Mr. America contests were always tough. Professionals would enter from the big gyms of New York City, Boston, and those that were featured in health magazines. As time went on I began placing in these contests. By 1973 and 1974 I placed 2nd in the Mr. New England contest.

 The following year I dedicated myself completely. I studied diet, read diligently about training methods, and focused on the 1975 Mr. New England contest.
 During this time steroids and bodybuilding drugs were running rampant. "Juicing" began to become the norm. Juicing was when injectable steroids were used.
 I would hear the term, Deca-durobolin, would be the way to go when achieving more size and muscularity. That would be injected right into the muscle, usually the thigh or derrière. Before that, Dianabol was the tablet to take to get bigger. Luckily I never went on any of these as my main reason for training was health. I never smoked, drank, or wouldn't even drink soda. To this day I am glad I competed naturally.

 When Labor Day weekend came I knew I was ready. I was training 2 hours a day. I ate many fruits and vegetables. I was eating cans and cans of tuna right out of the can. I was staying away from starches and sugars. It became a science to me. It worked.

There were 29 competitors that day. The favorite was Barry Blenis from Boston. He was a monster. He was about 6' 4" and 240 lb.The posedown we had lasted about 10 minutes. What I had over the other contestants was  perfect symmetry. I was declared the winner and was in shock. I finally did it. I climbed this mountain for 8 years and reached the summit.
 This was also the day Charles Gaines and George Butler started filming the documentary movie "Pumping Iron". I appear three times in the beginning scenes as this contest was the opening venue for the film.
  Franco Columbu, from California, Arnold's best friend and training partner, was guest poser that day, congratulated me. Franco went on to win Mr. Olympia after Arnold retired after 7 wins. Ed Jubinville told me to meet him the next day on Holyoke Mountain. He told me I was at the best shape of my life and to not miss the opportunity to have some great photos taken. I jumped at the chance.

  Two months later I entered the Mr. North East America contest held at Nashua, New Hampshire. I was elated to win that title also.
 Joe Weider spoke to me in New York City that winter while I was at the Mr. America contest. He requested that I move to California and go to work under his tutelage. I refused his offer as I just purchased my father's business in July and had a family to support.
 From then on I dedicated my time to make my business successful and trained to a lessor degree.
 Throughout the business years I missed the competitions. In 1992 I became a competitive runner. More on that in a future blog.

 I am proud to say I was inducted into the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame in 1994.

 I believe that the stories I heard about my dad growing up in Middletown had an effect on me as to why I chose the paths that I took. He being an orphan, a daredevil, somewhat of an entrepreneur and a legend brought out a desire to emulate him in some degree.

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