Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Vets Leave, Rookies Suffer, Part IIIb

On field trips, teachers smoked on the school buses.  Think of it ...

When the Aurora Middle School was born in the 1965-1966 school year (the year before I started), the principal, Ray Clough (kluff), wanted to establish overnight school trips as a part of the curriculum. And so the sixth graders went camping; the seventh graders on a two-day tour around Ohio; the eighth graders, three days (or was it four?) to Washington DC.

On my first Ohio Trip (spring, 1967), we zoomed around Ohio--Schoenbrun Village, Zoar Village, Dover (to the Warther Museum--the old master wood carver was still alive then; he died in 1973), Columbus, Lima (where, in a private museum, we saw an albino crow), Toledo (the glass museum).  We stayed somewhere down in southwestern Ohio, an old-fashioned motel with upstairs rooms opening onto a continuous balcony that overlooked the swimming pool.  Late that night--very late--some gentlemen who'd been enjoying some late-night liquid returned to their rooms--loud, obnoxious, singing ribald songs--that sort of thing.  It went on and on and on.  Everyone was awake.  Management finally calmed them down.

Our trip organizer, Mrs. Judy Thornton, plotted her revenge.  The next morning, we were up early (got to get going!), and we all--the entire seventh grade + chaperones--paraded, single file, by the men's door, the kids singing is high pre-adolescent soprano (and glee!), "We're from Aurora, mighty mighty Aurora ..." and pounding on their door.

They did not emerge.



Jim Wright was in charge of the Washington Trip, organizing it as if it were a Marine landing on a South Pacific island.  He carefully drew up blanks to use for the bus lists--and we were using them long after his suicide.

The trip in those days was not just Washington.  We went, as well, to Mt. Vernon, Monticello, Gettysburg.  On the steps of the Capitol we met our congressman, William Stanton, who always posed for the picture.

Jim cared about the trip as if it were one of his children.  He owned it.  (And didn't like to hear too many suggestions, either.)  The kids knew where they were going--and why--and what minute they would arrive at, and depart from. each site.  And one of the first stops in the city was always the Marine Corps War Memorial, which we saw not by the dawn's early light but illuminated at night.

We also saw the usual places you can imagine + the FBI building, the Islamic Center, the National Cathedral ...

And, yes, the teachers smoked on the chartered buses.  Jim was a smoker--so were many of the rest of us.  No one thought about second-hand smoke.  I remember being concerned only about the example we were setting ...

Jim also made sure he packed a bottle in his suitcase--yes, that kind of bottle--and after the chaperones had made sure all the kids were down (shows how little we knew!), they (okay, we) went to Jim's room for a little, uh, refreshment.

So much of this, again, is unthinkable today.  Smoking, of course, is banned about everywhere ... but our culture was still pretty Mad Men in the mid-1960s.  Public places everywhere were heavy with smoke.  And alcohol on a school trip?  A capital crime.  As it should be.  That tradition, I know, stopped with Jim's death in 1977.  And I was relieved ...

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