Classes and Class

In High School I was enrolled in the Commercial courses, where my father thought I would have the best preparation for the business career he foresaw for me. It never occurred to me to question that decision. I learned typing, stenography, bookkeeping, with an occasional civics course. Bob was in the College course, where most of my other friends were also. When Bob decided to run for Senior Class President it was no surprise that I was his campaign manager. Of course he won! That was a vigorous time for us, and I learned how to bridge some of the divides in the student body. My social life was with the students in the College courses, but my school life introduced me to classmates with “different” last names, ending with “skis”, “skys”, “ians” in abundance. I was able to bridge those differences in many cases. It became clear that the ability to garner votes across those divides was the key to Bob’s victory. I remember convincing the public speaking teacher to coach Bob so that he made a good presentation during the campaign. In that experience I was learning more than I realized about how to organize and rally people.

Our High School graduating class numbered over six hundred, maybe more.
I was awarded The Philomathian Award, supposedly for leadership, scholarship, and sportsmanship. My father was very proud when my picture turned up on the pages of the Haverhill Gazette.

In High School I was active as a debater and one time went to the city library to get a copy of Mein Kampf, because I was to debate something related to Nazi Germany. The clerk at the library would not let me take out Hitler’s book, until I met with the city Librarian, and was subjected to an interview to ascertain my motives. I still remember precise passages from that book. Hitler referred to Jews as “low mendacious crawlers who avoid the light of day to work their pestilence under cover of darkness”. Communists were “foreflushing, hypocritical blatherskites”. More than I realized at the moment, reading Hitler affected the ease with which I accepted military service. Without a great deal of thought I had come to recognize the evil in the Nazi manipulation of a nation, and it provided a reason for war. My awareness of the managed, anti-semitic violence in Germany added to the dis-ease with the world, which had begun with my recognition of my parents’ prejudice toward Bob. That experience brought me later to World War II, which was the beginning of the end of my age of innocence.

It may have been that interview with the city Librarian, Donald Campbell, which led to his employing me, after the War, to serve for a few months as coordinator for an office where we compiled a large volume of the experience of the city during the War. Another influence that led to that editing work may have been that I served as the de facto student editor-in-chief for our class yearbook. Another student was the elected editor, but served very little because he was the “lead” in the class play, having been chosen in my stead! For weeks and weeks, I stayed at the school until late afternoon, working closely with other students, under the guidance of one of the best teachers ever, Donald Freeman. It was a valuable experience for me, and was preparing me for roles I could not then predict.

A lot of my student friends understood how I qualified for the “leadership”, and “scholarship” parts of the Philomathian Award. Some of the more athletic friends were puzzled that I qualified as “sportsman”. Most people assumed that “sportsman” referred to athletic ability, and I hardly qualified! About the only thing I ever did in sports, besides sandlot baseball and football, was to catch for the Senior students when we played ball against the faculty. It was the first time I had ever caught behind the plate. My friends all knew that I could hit pretty well, and “field” very well at second base, but also knew that my arm was not great for accuracy, so they put me behind the plate, hoping I would not have to throw the ball to another base! I remember that I enjoyed that role, and regretted that I had no other chances to try it again!

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