Schooldaze, Fibucetera 17, 40 A.B.

"PEABODY, Mass. --- A substitute teacher has been
barred from the city's schools for telling his 7th grade 
students, 'Hitler is cool.'  The teacher told administrators
that he meant that Adolf Hitler is dead so his
body is cold...."

     Oh, those wild and crazy educators!
     Made me think back to my own days under the thumb of wacky pedagogues.
     Like the substitute I had in 5th grade who went straight to the teacher's desk and proceeded to read a paperback novel for an hour or so.  Then fell asleep, mouth agape, while we took bets on whether she had actually died.
     And the substitute I had as a junior in high school who had us move all our seats as close to the walls as possible so that he might use the clear center floor to wrestle us, one by one....
     I tremble to think what those administrators in Peabody might have done with him even if he was (as it turned out) an undercover narc....

     But perhaps administrators in Massachusetts reserve their attentions for verbal offenses.
     If that's the case, what would they have done with Mr. Current?  Mr. C. was my 8th grade Social Studies teacher.  It was near the end of the year and I and a few other students were in his car, being driven back from some field trip.  The safety guards were already out and at their posts by the time we neared the school.  As we passed one of the more mature girl guards all us boys adored, Mr. C. turned to me and said, "Boy, I'd sure like to have her working for me on that corner!" 
     OK, so teachers were woefully underpaid back then - even more so than now.  That fact can hardly explain Mr. C.'s taking it upon himself to teach his students the correct medical terms for several of the rarely seen parts of the human body which had nonetheless been making their way into the conversation of the students in the form of slang terms.  Not exactly a standard part of the Social Studies curriculum, but it's always good to see a teacher taking on additional tasks without demanding a salary increase, isn't it?  Oddly enough, few people saw it that way when these correct medical terms started appearing on rest room walls and the local paper decided to make a big deal about it.  Still, Mr. C. was not suspended, and I'm glad, otherwise my letters to the editor about George W. Bush might now be studded with the term "pee-pee head"  instead of the one his doctors probably use behind his back.

     Speaking of politics, I believe it was my 8th grade shop teacher, Mr. Vaulderburger, who first taught me about the qualities we should look for in our leaders.  If memory serves correctly, his lesson went something like this:
     "And that jerk, Kissinger, makes me sick.  Running off to Paris to shack up with some blonde while our boys are dying in Vietnam.  If that bastard Nixon had only ordered him to hold those goddamn peace talks in Indiana, this war would over by now." 
     Mr. V. was also the one who took the time to teach us students to always use a straight edge to draw a line and never a ruler if we didn't want him to carry through on his gruffly delivered daily threat to "crack ass." 
     How glad I am that he's not teaching shop in these days of hyper-sensitive political correctness which mandate both respect for students and that everything's that taught by a shop teacher actually have some connection to industrial arts. 

     I had to wait until 9th grade to have my Basic House Wiring instructor explain to me the essence of Watergate.
     "Lawyers are liars," Mr. Yakkee told us.  "Lawyers are liars.  That's what I've always said, and it's true.  Just look at all those people in Washington, going before Congress and the press and lying their heads off to save their asses.  It's a shame you kids have to see that.  And now the American Psychiatric Association has just decided homosexuality is no longer a sickness.  That's because there are so many f*gg*t psychiatrists, you know.  It's a shame!   Anyway, today we're going to learn how to wire a hallway light controlled by two separate switches...."

     Today, of course, it's impossible to proselytize in the classroom, but apparently it wasn't when I was in school - and look how well I came out as a result.
     I can still recall the day Mr. Moosebeak told us that "Jesus would be coming back in the year 2000 because it'll have been exactly 2000 years since he was born.  Think about it.  It makes sense.  It makes perfect sense!"
     Mr. Moosebeak was my 8th grade science teacher.

     I had to wait a long three years after that for my next lesson in theology. 
     This time, wisdom came from my Radio & TV Repair instructor.
     "The paper said today that there's now enough nuclear weapons on earth to throw the planet out of orbit.  I just hope you all believe in God and are praying.  I once had a student in here - a smart guy - and I asked him one day if he believed in God.  He said he didn't.  I asked him why.  He said that for years he had prayed before he went to bed.  He thought he'd die if he didn't.  Then one night he forgot to pray and he didn't die.  So he stopped believing in God.  Now what kind of sense does that make?!"
     I sure didn't know.  None of us did, judging from the utter silence in the classroom.
     What a relief it was when we took our final exam in Radio & TV Repair and there wasn't a single question  pertaining to this material.

     Despite the stiff competition, however, my favorite teacher remains Mr. Faff.  Mr. Faff was my high school Algebra teacher as well as my chess club adviser and he really excelled at both even though he liked to show Laurel and Hardy movies during class and couldn't tell a pawn from a hole in the ground. 
     No, no - he wasn't my favorite teacher because he showed those movies.  He was my favorite teacher because one day he chose me out of a class of 36 to go to the teacher's lounge with him and listen as he vented about the collapse of his marriage and how he was literally going crazy because his wife was now out of state, screwing another man.  The other teachers there politely got up and left as Mr. F. continued his tale on the broken down couch we shared, often slapping my knee for emphasis. 
     I think I got an "A" that term.
     As a chess club adviser, he was just as remarkable.  His one and only responsibility was to get us to and from our matches, which could be at any school in the county. 
     I can still recall the cold, wintry night he packed all six of us players in the old, smoking Corvair his wife had left him and then raced over icy back country roads to get us home in time for him to get back to waiting for a call from her that never came, David Bowie's "Fame" blaring loudly enough from the radio to almost completely drown out the sounds of skidding wheels, train whistles, and the memory of a TV news report on how little it took to explode a Corvair's gas tank....

     To think that I might have been deprived of these educational experiences had I been a modern-day student in Peabody, Massachusetts!
     To think that these teachers of mine might actually have been suspended for what they did or said!
     It makes me want to cry.
     Or laugh my head off.

     If only I could now recall which my role model had done first that day he lost it in the lounge....

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