Way-Back Machine

As I usually do on a Sunday afternoon, a time devoid of any news of consequence, I was tooling around the Net, and some of my preferred reading sites.  I was at Z’s joint, always a good read, but he had a short blurb today about upgrading his system and how his regular comments were on the fritz and he was stuck with WordPress’ comments, which serve a blogger until he gets either Net-known, or notorious, or both, and then, readership and comments skyrocket and you have to look at your system and server differently.  Not my problem yet here at my humble site.  But I was on the verge once with another site I had years ago.

Anywhere . . . I was going somewhere with this . . . oh yeah – so since Z had no real normal content up I hadn’t already read, I took a look at his blogroll.  Clicked on the first one.  Such a placement on another’s site usually gets you more look-sees.  Anyway, the feller over there at A Nod to the Gods – apparently another “Jeff” like yours truly – shows a great and extended appreciation of the beauty of God’s Creation as the site opens and unfolds.  That part wouldn’t go over real good with college snowflakes these days, but I refer them to this to soothe their offended egos.

So I get to his piece, and it immediately puts the reader into his version of Mr. Peabody’s efforts, my title implies – and sends us back to the days of yore when no one locked their doors, students served as their own crossing guards, children were allowed to be children but always with a healthy dose of parental efforts at teaching proper respect from the earliest of the ages. something that has seemingly become woefully forgotten or lost in this day and age, very sad to say.  And, he set this old timer to reminiscing.

What I miss . . . it wasn’t so much the absolute shellacking Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Dem Bums administered in taking the Yanks down in 4 straight in the ’63 Series, or Koufax bettering that effort against the Twins in ’65, or even my dearly beloved Yax and my Sox finally getting to the World Series in ’67.  I didn’t think I would ever live to see them win the WS, as ’86 almost crushed Sox Nation for good, but ‘o4, 07 and ’13 have the Nation crowing from the rafters these years!  All of that was not the really good stuff.  The events of 1968 gave us all a hint of the future, but we were blissfully stuck in another life that took reality as it came, and really did make a good run with it.

What really struck me about his piece was the lack of need then, and the necessity these days, of cops in the school.  My Dad was a reserve cop, and I used to sit with him in Chief Manning’s living room as the two of talked shop, and then the inevitable BBQ something for good measure.  The sure suicide of me getting out of line or disrespectful of teachers and elders, took me but a second to consider and discard.  So much so I still call adults Mr. or Mrs. or Ma’am no matter their age without a thought, product of my days of yore now long gone.  I’ll wake up tomorrow having turned 64 at 6:25am.

And discipline at school or a need for cops?  Pshaw!  The two biggest in the student body, both football players, were the sons of ex-marines.  They broke up every fight the teachers might not catch.  Of course, we who were stopped by them didn’t mind their thunk on our noggin, not nearly as much as the dean’s paddle who always got you on an upswing that caught even a skinny guy like me on the really fleshy part of both butt cheeks.  If you took your whacks manfully and didn’t complain – no call hone was made.  I only got them twice – 3 whacks each offense (at least I was winning my fights!) – but my folks never even knew it happened, which as any ancient (one of my contemporaries) will tell you, was a very good thing back then.  Ya see, if Dad had known about my whacks, I would have gotten, invariably, his version of “homework” each of those nights for embarrassing his parental efforts.  Nah – I made sure Dad never knew or gave him reason to think he was a bad Dad.  Proverbs 9:10 says. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom!” – and as a theologian, I agree.  But God also gave us parents, and Dad ran a very close second to the Lord.  I tried my best to test neither the Lord nor Dad.

But back to school discipline.  The hulks from the football team kept general mayhem at bay among the young males loaded with testosterone and no brains, and then, it was pretty much only fist-fights and wrestling – without gloves or headgear.

However, there were always a few clowns who had to “test the system.”  And as if on cue, we had 5 individuals on staff and administration, one Army vet who was also the Dean of Men, two ex- Marines, one former college wrestler, and the world’s only Samuel T. Marshall.  I shall get to him in a minute.

One of the ex Marines – Coach William (no student ever called him that or Bill until AFTER graduation) Davenport, was a 6’4″ very muscular ex-Marine “Top” – who was the head coach of football and Men’s baseball, and who ran us in baseball like we were his football players, or his Marines.  As an aside – Coach Schultz, his successor after Davenport just stuck to football, wasn’t any better.  He was the other Marine on staff.  Coach Buick – the wrestler – was my freshman coach.  He was likewise tough, but he had me ready to step in to varsity shortstop right out of 8th grade after the graduation of a four year all-conference shortstop – Mark Zammit.  I honored my coaches by accomplishing the very same feat.  But all of them taught us discipline first, and then – how to play baseball for real.

So – a real student disruption?  Usually the bad guys could be settled down by the teacher saying he or she was calling one of the three men to deal with the offender.  Then, it only ended up with the Army vet Dean, doling out his stinging whacks.

Now when it came to gym class, there was one unwritten rule that excluded the Dean and the three aforementioned coaches.  In little notes written inside gym lockers from former students, to those in the then present who were in the know – do not for the life of you or those around potentially becoming what the military calls collateral damages – do not ever piss off Head Coach Samuel T. Marshall.  His name was uttered with reverence and awe, even by the most muscular bad-asses in gym classes.  I thought my Dad was second behind the Lord in being feared, but the real second place holder – for 4 years – was Coach Marshal, who, we only quietly joked among ourselves, had to be called “Coach” by his wife and kids.

He was an black ex-football player, went to and played for a white college in the south so you KNEW he had paid his dues; was a feared lineman and got his degree in only 3 years, and turned down a pro offer because he wanted to finish his Masters, and do what he loved most – teach boys at the most turbulent time of a young man’s life, when one is seeming mindless and over-fueled by hormones.  Looking back, he was a tremendous role model for us.  But he was held in the proper fear by all.

It helped greatly that he was 6’7″ and played at about 275 lbs.  He added 100 over the years, but that only made him look that much more fearsome.  I wasn’t there, but it was a monster legend that he had once picked up two of his 185 -200 lb. football players, one in either hand, for botching a play in practice, and then, horror of horrors and the real crime they commited – talking back to Co-atch, as Samuel T. Called himself.  That legend itself, and also knowing the entire gym floor faced his open office window and the lockers were across the hall next door to his office, made for no young man in my time being sent to the Dean.  Ya see, Co-atch ALSO had paddling privileges.  No one ever seemed to want to test those waters.  Jocks have only straps on the butt, and the gym shorts then were notorious hin!

Shyte, we were more worried about our coaching and teaching staff that we would have ever been about a police officer on campus.  So I came through high school relatively unscathed as did most every young male, and I was even able to secure a scholarship for baseball.  But having pre-enrolled in the AF a few months before my June ’71 graduation – so I could get free college benefits – I was already a committed man after graduation.  You had up to a year “free time,” but then the AF called in its chips and off you went to Basic.  I hung out doing this and that with jobs and cars and girls, but I gave in after 6 months.  Wouldn’t you know it, after the physical abuse of Basic, my career field demanded yet another year of “School.”  Only then, screwing up meant a Dishonorable, and no one wanted that – it followed you in civilian life to college and job applications.

Ya know, being forced into retrospection this other Jeff has brought upon me today, I wouldn’t change a minute of it – not one minute.   Hat-tip to him for catching my attention and allowing me to re-live some great memories through words.  Had a blast!  Thanks, Dude!






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