It's Wednesday evening, October 28, 1992 and we are interviewing Robert Vaclav former principal of Boardman High School in Youngstown, Ohio. We are in Mr. Vaclav's home.
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Q: The first question this evening is, we would like to know Mr. Vaclav, would you begin by telling us a little bit about your family background, your childhood interests and development. Things such as your birth place, elementary and secondary education, and family characteristics. . . that type of thing.
(Streamed audio file of interview for this question using RealPlayer)
A: Okay, I was born in Campbell, in 1931. I stayed there for five years and moved to Vienna, and it was during the depression and we stayed in Vienna, and that is where I graduated from high school, in Vienna; Vienna High School, which is now Mathews. And I went into industry and worked with the building trades, worked in the mill a short time, with Briggs manufacturing, then I went to the Navy for four years, and out of the Navy came back and went to Youngstown, graduated from Youngstown, went on to Westminster, got a Masters degree, got a teaching job at Volney Rogers to begin with. Then to South High School as a truant officer and from truant officer at South, I went to Hayes for 2 years as Assistant Principal then went to Boardman in 1970 as an Assistant Principal and stayed in Boardman for 22 years. The last 7 being as Principal. I don't know if that is the information you are looking for or not. Now from this tape, you are going to.....?
Q: What we are going to...we are going to do a transcription, I'll give you a copy of the tape and the transcription when we're all over.
A: I don't want a copy of the tape. What did I miss?
Q: As a follow-up, could you discuss those experiences or events in your life that constituted important decision points in your career and how you feel about them now. The things that helped shape you as a leader, as a principal.
A: I think my work ethic. I think.....I started my work program loading trucks for Ward's Baking Company, bakery trucks for a buck a truck, it was all night work and it was hard work for only a dollar. And then I went from there to ....
Q: What year would that have been?
A: Oh God, that was 1949 probably. I graduated in 1949 from Vienna, well during the summer I loaded bakery trucks and my first job out of high school was an office boy at the Standard Engineering Company. An office boy, I ran errands, take this slip to Strouss, my wife bought it, it's a size too large, get her another size. I go into the lingerie department with this guys slip. Take my car and get the tires rotated and get the oil changed and hey boy go down and get me....they all have ulcers, these engineers, they got stomach problems like you wouldn't believe so I would have to go buy all their medicines for them and it was kind of a responsible job. And I had to go get blue prints for them and bring back blue prints and stuff like that. Then I started working in the building trades business, Wester Brothers building supply company in Warren, and nasty people to work for just screaming all the time, shouting at you. You had to work your ass off. They'd put you in a box car with 600 lbs. of plaster, I mean 600 sacks of plaster, 100 lbs. in a sack and they would tell you to start unloading it and when some help comes they would give you some help but the help would never come so you would unload the whole box car yourself. It was just hard work. I drove semis that the union....they were not fit for the highway, they were not safe. And the boss would say well if you want to start driving truck you got to take the Ford down to get a load of bricks and I would say well the truck has been declared unsafe. "Well, you want to work or you don't?" So you would take an unsafe truck, that type of thing and it was just hard work, no screwing around, no goofing off, just work, work, work.
Q: What kind of money were they paying your for that?
A: At that particular time, back in 50, cause I went to the service in l951, I don't know I was making 5 bucks an hour, 4 bucks an hour, something like that. And then I went into the service. I joined the Navy, was drafted, I didn't want to go to the army because everyone was going to Korea and so I got to thinking well if I joined the Navy at least that way I can come back with two arms and two legs, hopefully. And I was in the Navy, well I got out of boot camp and I decided that the Navy wasn't for me and I wanted out of that damn place. You know, they're crazy, I mean they gave me a big area to paint and I painted this big area, and being new I wanted to do a good job. And so, I ground everything down and red leaded it and I painted it gray and I was so proud, I called the Boatswain Mate over and I said, "hey Boats, Boats, come over here and look at this great job." And he said, " nice job Vaclav, now do it again." I thought I heard him right but I don't think he said do it again, I says, "do you have something else for me to do?" He said, "no, do this again. Get the chipper, chip it all off, grind it, red lead it and paint it." I said, " you got to be kidding. Do it again?" Do it again Vaclav, it's good for morale. I made up my mind, get the hell out of this Navy. I got to get out. Then they send me to Greenland and there was not doubt in my mind I got to get the hell out of this man's navy. So while I was up there, I used to look at the bulletin boards for transfers or anything to get out of that place and there were two transfers that came up. One was they were looking for submarine sailors and they were looking for underwater demolition people, and I didn't understand either one. I thought I knew a little about submarines but the U.D.T. business, I didn't know too much about. And someone said these people, there they are crazy people, they're of course suicidal, but they make extra money. So I put in for both of them, this sub and this UDT which I didn't know anything about and everyone aboard the ship said you'll never get off this ship, Vaclav. Once you're here, you're stuck. People had written to their Congressman, tried to get off this. OK Vaclav, there is no way of getting off, and I said, well, what the hell, I'll try. And so one day they called me up in the top side and both of them, I could have gone to the Subs or to the UDT. I had my choice of going to either one, and so I told the executive officer, I'll try this UDT and he asked me if I was a very good swimmer, and I says well, no not really. I mean I swam across mud holes when I was a kid I mean, I was not Olympic swimmer. He said well that's a pretty tough outfit and I said well, that's what I want. So they gave me some kind of a swimming test which was really nothing of great importance in Greenland and then they threw me on a plane to Little Creek to go through the training. And then I get into UDT. So I spent my entire three years, six months with UDTs, and I think that....you ....you either shit or get off the pot with those outfits. You got to do it, I mean, your playing with C-3 and C-4 and dangler torpedoes and mines and I learned very quickly then with these people what being a man was all about, I thought. You know, they were down to earth, no nonsense type guys and if they had to get something done, they did it, and they got it done. And that is why I think that somewhere along the line that training that I received in the military was so valuable to me as far as I think getting along with people.
Q: It's part of that work ethic you talked about.
A: Like the old man told me one day, I was driving to an Admiral's meeting and he said he had too much to drink last night and he had made a bet with the captain on the ship that he had at least ten men that could swim the English Channel. And I'm driving this big Buick, and the old man...I'm looking in the mirror and I see him in the back with this Admiral, and he says Vac, you're one of the men. And I said, "Skipper, I have no intentions of swimming the English Channel." And I am looking in the mirror and he says, "don't you think you can make it?" I says, "hell no, that's no problem, I can swim 26 miles, but I have nothing to prove to me and I do not wish to swim the 26 miles." He said, "get one thing straight Vaclav, you're expendable, and don't you ever forget it." I never have forgotten that, that we are all expendable. I just kept driving. Well, I didn't have to swim the English Channel, but I guess I'd have given it a shot if I had to go, you know, it was that type of thing. You know, we check out of the Submarine underway l50 feet down, check out of the Submarine, hold on, we have 21 thread ropes and we check out with an aqua tank on naturally and we'd hang on to that damn thing. That Submarine is going and then two more guys would come up and we'd go back in and then two more guys and then we would just keep rotating, hanging on the damn Submarine. So my buddy and I we always ....we were goofy, we'd let go of the rope, put our hands in the holds on the deck and go on over the sub. Now the next to guys that come up, there looking for us and we're not there, so now we got two more guys come up and Dizzy and I were clear at the fantail. We're watching the big propellers turn you know. We are holding on like this and the hoses are going and now we got four guys outside the hole and the tank only takes two and we are running out of air. We're down 150 feet and so I tell my buddy Joe, "hey Joe, I'm running out of air, I have to go in and you say (laugh), no you screwed up Vaclav, so I'd say Joe, you're my buddy you got to let me go in, we got no more air. And of course, we all played this game and the guys would say, your not going in and then they finally would let you in. We'd play crazy games like that, but that four year experience I think just added tremendously to me. I came out so much more mature, I thought, that I think adds a lot to a person. And I don't know, you never know if you would not have gone, whether you would have turned out the same way. You know, I am not saying that football develops character anymore than the service develops character, I think. But I learned to have coffee with Admirals, Generals, and Privates, you know, people are people and when I became a teacher in Youngstown and I was an Assistant Principal, and I had to go to the Principals' meetings and they would all bitch about the Superintendent and I would raise my little hand and say, "well, did anybody go see him at all." They would all look at me, as if to say, "who in the hell is he?" Well, my name is Vaclav and I am over at Hayes. I'll go see the superintendent. They'd say, "you'll go see the superintendent?" I was a rookie, in my first year, and I would say yea, what the hell do I care, he puts his pants on one leg at a time like me. And all these other Principals are scared to go talk to the Superintendent. So I would go down and see the Superintendent. We would have coffee together, great guy, discuss the problems and he would say is there anything else you want to know Vac. I have a list of questions, you know, that the Principals were all bitching about and I'd get answers and I'd go back to the next Principals' meeting and I would read all these answers and they would say, "you went down and saw the Superintendent and I said, "yea, what the hell to I care, you know, I don't care" It's just like in Boardman when Kibble was the superintendent, you know. We'd be at the principals' meetings and they'd be bitching and I say then go see Kib and talk to him and they'd say ,"NO." And I said well, "I'll go see him." I'd call and make an appointment and go up and see him and talk to him. I was never fearful of doing that type of thing because, hell, in the service I talked to the top brass, at times. I was never fearful of that, so why would I be fearful of talking to the superintendent.
Q: And you had gone through demolition training. . .
A: Yea, many times I have gone to school, you know...we are not neuro-surgeons, we are not operating on brains, you know. You go to work in the morning and you have some apprehensions about something that happened the day before and I'd say the hell with it. I am not operating on anybody, it's not a matter of life and death and just go and do it. And one think I found out, nothing is ever as bad as you think it is going to be, and usually things that you think are going to happen tomorrow, never happen. You know, this guy's going to come to school and beat the hell out of me and I'll meet you here and all this and I'd say, okay, okay and you wait and they never show up.
Q: What did you do when you had one of those days where all the SBH kids were all down your throat, 3 or 4 teachers were down your throat, pressure was you know, about 10 feet above your head...what did you do to blow it off?
A: I don't think I blew it off. I just rolled with everything, you know. I started to drink for a while when I was in the city because I couldn't believe what was happening in the inner cities. So I didn't have anyone to talk to. I was an Assistant Principal and the Principal had an affair with the secretary. So I worked with him for two years but we didn't speak for a year. I tell people this, they don't believe me, for two years, the total conversation between the Principal and me, I was his assistant, was maybe an hour and a half in two years. I never saw the man. The teachers came in one day, I was so busy; the police were waiting to see me, the Fire Department, the Vindicator is calling me, I got the Dempsey dumpster on fire, I got people throwing the fire extinguishers down the steps and some kid called a teacher an "MF" and all hell is breaking loose. And the teachers came to me one day and they said, "Vac, do you know what's going on here." And I says, "No, why." And they said, "the Principal, do you now anything about ..." And I said, "I don't know what the hell you are talking about." They said, "come on, he's got an affair with the secretary." And I said, "I don't know that." I was so damn busy, and then I started to think there were times that she was not there and I used to answer the phone and he wasn't there and they had a little rendezvous going on behind the office doors that I was too busy to realize. And I said, "you got to be kidding." And they said, "No, he is laying the secretary at my expense." I said, "what the hell is going on here?" So then I started to be a little more observant and sure enough, they had an affair going on. So, who can you ...you can't talk to the wife...the wive's are nice and they listen to us but you can't come home and take out your frustrations on your wife so I started going up to the "Shadows" [a tavern] up there on Belmont Avenue, and I figured, I'll drink these problems away, I'll get a shooter and a beer. So I got a shooter and a beer, another shooter, another beer, then I'd come home, after two shooters and two beers. You know, I did that 3 nights in a row, and I thought the hell with this. I am not going to do this. This doesn't solve anything. I am going to take him on, so I got to the point where I couldn't wait to get there in the morning. I'd strangle people in the morning, you know, for something they did the day before. I went after those people. I chased a kid through a house one day. I ran up the street, kid went through this house, and I was about 3 seconds behind him and there was a guy in the living room putting on his shoes. The guy must have been about 40 years old, a colored fellow and I was after this kid, named Richard Hollis and I went right by this guy just sitting on the couch, came in the living room door, went right through the living room, and Richard went out the kitchen and I went to the kitchen door to get him and then he went out the door and went over a big hedge. And then I went back in the living room and apologized to this guy and he just shook his head and he said you got to be that crazy man at Hayes, I heard so much about. I said, tis I, I am the crazy one. I chased them suckers up the streets. The teachers finally told me, they said Vac, when you go....first of all I never got a chance to eat. Honest to God, I would get a cup of coffee and I would get half of it done and I'd have a fight on the third floor I had to go take care of. So I never ate. So 20 West Wood found out about this and they called me one day and they said they want to take me out to dinner, and I said I don't have time to go to dinner. And they said, well we are coming out and taking you whether you got time or not. I said, gentlemen I cannot afford to leave the building at lunch time because they'll burn the damn building down. They said, let it burn. So they came out and we went up to the 20th Century. Pat Kennedy was the Division Chief at that time, and I think one of the Board members and I went up there and they told me to get in my car everyday and go eat. I said, "I can't do that, cause I said they'll wreck the building." At lunch time they set the Dempsey dumpster on fire every day. We just kept the hose out, the custodian just kept the hose out and we'd put it out. They wanted me to call the Fire Department and I wouldn't call the Fire Department. So the people told me to go to dinner and let the building burn. So the teachers would tell me, "Vac, take my car." I had a white station wagon, and they didn't want me to take my car out of the parking lot cause as long as my white station wagon was there, the kids would behave. When they saw that white station wagon wasn't there, they knew I wasn't in the building, so the teachers would want me to take their car and leave mine in the parking lot. I said, no. I had a teacher borrow my car one day and he said that car ...he said it's like a ghost, I go down the street and kids are jumping over fences to get away from my car, because every night after school, I would get calls on the telephone, there's a fight going on in front of my house. I would say, "where do you live." I'd jump in my car and I'd go. I did that for about the first year and I finally told the Principal, I said, "you know Ralph," (we had the biggest school district in Youngstown, Hayes. It went from 62 to Briar Hill, from the river to Gypsy Lane). I said, "I cannot be responsible for these youngsters to and from school, it is just impossible." So I said, "from now on, if any parents call and complain about fights, have them call the police." And so I finally got out of that archaic rule, we are responsible till they get home. I still think we are responsible till they get home, but hell parents are calling, "Mr. Vaclav, you got to get in your car and get over here, they're fighting like crazy." Like I say the first year I would go and finally, I couldn't keep that up. But there were days that it was so crazy it was unbelievable. And the only people you can talk to is someone in our business. We can tell stories here and we would understand them, but if you have a third party who is not in our business, he thinks you are making them up. He don't believe it, you know.
Q: He thinks you're bragging. I know what you mean.
A: Yea, I had an attempted rape up on the third floor. Five guys tried to take this girl, they took her into a side room and tried to disrobe her and she came crying to me. The girl was raped when she was in sixth grade and I kind of looked after her. The Principal was Bob Pegues at the time. He brought her to me, and he had her at Tod, I think when he was a Principal in sixth. She was a sixth grader. She was raped. He brought her up the end of her sixth year and brought her to Hayes and told me to look after Willie Mae, her name was Willie Mae. And he told me something about her background and he said she is a nice young girl and I just don't want that to happen again to her. She was raped, not in school, somewhere else and so I kind of looked after Willie Mae, cute little girl, cute as a little button. She came down one day, tears coming down her face, her skirt was on crooked, she was starting to wear hose and her hose were on crooked, her sweater was torn. I said, "Willie Mae, Willie Mae, what happened." And she told me and I reached and pulled out a board and put it in my coat. And I went up three flights of stairs and what really bothered me was that a teacher watched this and did nothing. So I went to the teacher first of all and I asked him if he watched these five characters take Willie Mae to this side room and try to disrobe her and he said, "Yea." I said, "what do you mean, yea? What did you do as a faculty member? What did you do as a teacher to prevent this?" He said, "well you know her reputation." And he didn't do a damn thing about going in that room and getting those five guys away from this girl. So I went after the five guys. And I told him, "you know, you are very lucky that Willie Mae doesn't have a father because had she had a father and he found out you did nothing, he would probably come up and put your head in the basket." That is what I would have done as a father. Take my daughter and take her into a side room. You know teachers have to stick their nose in every now and then. He didn't do anything and that bothered the living hell out of me. And I had to go take on these five guys and I told them....I was in my first year as an Assistant Principal, you don't know a hell of a lot of anything. You just go by the seat of your pants, so I told them, "gentlemen, you got two ways to go, either dump your lockers, put everything in my desk and leave you're finished or you can go through me." Those five dudes are standing, we are on the third floor. Well we are going to go through you," [they said]. I said, "okay, grab a hold of the rail." I whipped out that board. I said, "hold on tight because I am going to try to put you over the banister." I never hit five kids so hard, honest to God, in my life. I tried to put them over the rail. All the teachers doors were opened and they couldn't understand where all the noise was coming from. Man, these guys were hollering and screaming, I'd like to kill them, I tell you I wanted to kill them. Maybe I should have expelled them, but I didn't. I beat the living hell out of those kids and then about 3 days later the five of them come down to see me and they said, "Mr. V, why you get so mad." I said, "what do you mean, why I get so mad? What you do to Willie Mae?" "Well, you know Willie Mae is no good, she's bad, she's got a reputation," [they said]. I said, "I don't give a damn what her reputation is, from 8 to 3, she will be treated like a lady and what she does after 3 or during the summer I don't care about, but nobody touches my girls during school hours." I was obsessed with that, and they turned around and walked away. But you know they destroyed teachers cars in the parking lot but they never touched my car. Teachers came to me one time, about four teachers came to me and they wanted to get to the bottom of this. Why in God's name were their cars getting destroyed and they wouldn't touch mine and I said I have no idea. Well, I will tell you what happened I sent for about l5 thugs one day. The worst 15 we have. As soon as teachers cars started to get tampered with, I sent for the 15 biggest bastards we had and I got them in my room and they said, "what you want, what you want." And I said, "come on with me fellows, and I took them to the parking lot and I showed them my white station wagon and I said, "that is the second most valuable thing I own. You screw with that car fellows, I'll spend a $100. to find out who did it and I'm going to pull your God damn arms out, so don't you screw with that car." And they said, "you a crazy man." And I said, "well maybe I'm crazy but don't you screw with that car." And they never screwed with that car. I tell you, they would kick teachers doors in, bust their taillights, put wedges of steel underneath their tires. There would be two cars on both sides and my car wouldn't be touched. I was lucky, two years and they never touched it. And they called me the crazy man. I told them I'd go get you. And they say, "you a crazy man." And then I said, "the white coat is going to come and take you fellows away, and I'm going to stay here." But they're funny, inner city kids are funny, you laugh like hell. They do some goofy things you know.
Q: Different type problems from Inner City to Boardman. The big one in the newspapers last year.
A: Oh, yea.
Q: When things like that happen, what do you do to vent. How do you get rid of some of that?
A: Well, I never found out how to get rid of it. I just took it on, I just kept taking it on. I never looked for a way to relieve stress or tension. I went to a stress seminar. We went to the Avalon Inn one time to a stress seminar. Canfield and us, I think. $90.00 a head. We couldn't come up with $90.00, so we got Canfield. It was an all day stress seminar. Get rid of the watch. Let your wife do the driving while you do your paper work in the back seat. Stress is good. A certain amount of stress is good for us I think. I never minded. It seemed like I operated best when things were popping. When everything was going fine, I was bored. I really was, it seems like I am a crisis situation man, you know. With that incident in Boardman, where supposedly that kid had his sandwich spiked. I don't know the truth of that whatsoever. I got involved in that and then school came to an end. But I went down to the Northside Psychiatric Ward and talked to nine people down there and I finally talked to the kid who was accused of putting the LSD or whatever it was in the kid's sandwich. Nobody had taken the time to talk to him. I expelled the kid for another incident, so I had to call him at his home, and I said, "hey Chris, you and I haven't really gotten along too well, but would you do me a favor? Would you come and see me tomorrow and you and I will have a cup of coffee together and talk about a few things because you are being accused of spiking a kids sandwich." He said, "Okay, Mr. Vaclav." And he came the next day, he and his mother and we had a long talk. And the police at that time had never even spoken to the kid, nobody had even spoken to this kid. I was forbidden. I wanted to talk to the kid that supposedly freaked out and attacked his mother. I was told I was not privileged to talk to this kid. I was not allowed to talk him.
Q: Who told you that?
A: Mark Huberman [Board President] and the Superintendent of schools. The Superintendent wanted me to talk to the kid, he said if anyone can get to the bottom of this, Vac can do it. And Mark Huberman said, "Vaclav is not permitted to talk to this kid." Guterba [the district drug education coordinator] was going to do all of the interviewing.
Q: Mark was the President of the Board?
A: Board, we had that big meeting at night, you know, we had attorneys and everybody else and Huberman said he didn't want me to talk, so Dick told me, you know, don't talk to him. So how in the hell can you get to the bottom of something if you can't talk to the kid.
Q: So it never was settled, was it?
A: I don't think so. I left pages of work that I had done on that for Lou Rucci [the incoming high school principal] to pick it up or Dick [the Superintendent] to pick it up and .....
Q: Did that student ever return to school.
A: Well, I expelled him. He's back now. He's back.
Q: No, I meant the student that had the sandwich spiked.
A: Oh yea. They wanted him back full time and I was in Northside Psychiatric Ward, and I said, no, no. I would bring him back a period a day, the last period of the day, and maybe the 6th period, but I can't bring him back. I had people calling me, "Mr. Vaclav is it going to be safe for my daughter to eat in the Cafeteria, is something going to happen to their food. If he could attack his mother and tear her eye out, bite her nipples off, what will he do to my daughter?" So some parents were very concerned out there and rightfully so and so I didn't want him in there during lunch time. And of course, the shrinks wanted to main stream him as quickly as possible to see what reaction they could get from this you know. See, I don't really buy that flash back theory about the guys in Vietnam and they came back and they had, and it's probably true. It's probably because of my ignorance. Although I don't think you can take drugs today and stop and six months down the road have a flash back. I guess that happens, but I don't understand that. I don't believe that. This kid had gone to see the "Living Dead" in concert with his sister, prior to that. I talked to Chris, the kid that was supposedly accused of putting this in his sandwich and I said, "what do you think Chris?" He said, "I will tell you what Mr. Vaclav, first of all the kid was dead set against drugs. He said but he definitely took drugs and he said he must have got them at the concert and he was curious about what they would do to him and he took them himself, because he told Guterba he took them himself." It's on the police report at the Police Station that he took drugs himself. Jim Guterba said, "how did you do that." He said, "I put it on my finger and put it on my tongue just like that." And in the police report, the mother and dad filled out at the police station, the first time, it says that the boy induced chemicals himself, so I told the Vindicator. They came here and I said, "why in the hell didn't you print that story, that's on the police report. No you got the story that was given to them at Boardman High School, and that was a little more interesting so you worked on that one didn't you." They brought their T.V. cameras out here and everything and I said, "put your cameras back in your trunk, what the hell you going...." Yet they came out here and wanted......to come out and wanted to do....and I said, "no, no, no."
Q: How did you handle adverse publicity. I know no matter what you do you are going to have adverse publicity as the Principal, particularly the Vindicator?
A: Yea, the Vindicator. Well, you know, I got into it with that Marcel Driver incident also and the Vindicator got involved in that and most people don't do their homework as we both know, they just don't. And the one Vindicator reporter did, it was a young lady that graduated from our school, by the way, I've forgotten her name now. But she did her homework and she was right on the money with Marcel Driver, as I was on the money with Marcel Driver. And I got phone calls here from influential people from Boardman, telling me to back off. What are you trying to do? I had a Board member come to me and say we didn't elect you 4-0 to have you cause all these problems for Boardman High School. And he was in favor of Marcel Driver playing ball for Boardman, and I wasn't too kind to the Board member, but he went on for about 20 minutes, the Board member, and I didn't say anything. And then he started running out of gas and I said, "are you about done?" And he said he was done and then I lit into him. Most principals wouldn't have done that, but I told him what the hell I thought about the whole thing and he finally got up and walked out and that was the end of that, but I knew he was coming.
Q: How do you treat the Vindicator when they mis-quote?
A: They will mis-quote you, I talked to Kibble about that one time. I said, "you know, I don't handle the media too well." And he said, "don't feel badly, nobody does. They are not going to print it as you have told it anyway. So do the best you can and the hell with it. And if they ...and you are mis-quoted, you got to roll with a certain amount of that ....they make mistakes, they mis-quote you." That is why I think a tape recorder is good. You know, that way you are not getting mis-quoted. You keep playing the tape over, you get the damn thing right but... I tried to stay out of the controversy. I don't like ink. I never wanted ink. You don't want to get ink, so I avoided ink except for those.... And this kid in Boardman supposedly had the drugs given to him, you know. This happened during the time we were on vacation. We weren't even in school and they traced it back to when we were in school. Eight days later supposedly, he gets a flashback by something he induced himself at school. I really didn't buy that ...buy that at all. But other than that and the Marcel Driver incident I managed to stay out of the ink. I never wanted them to know who Vaclav was. If they thought Selby [Mr. Vaclav's predecessor] was still the Principal, that was fine with me. You know, a lot of people still did think he was the Principal. It didn't bother me who the hell the Principal is, it is best not to be known. I don't know what makes us; I don't know whether the Service. I have a hard time, sometime my wife and I get into it, you know she, women are strange. I'm used to charging everything, charge, charge, charge, but you probably shouldn't do that but that is probably from my military days, when I want to get the damn thing done. And I have a bad habit of telling people what I think with a little diplomacy and I don't think that is the way to be either, cause I think you alienate a lot of people that way . You know, we always say, well he said what's on his mind, yea, but you create a lot of ill feelings when you do things like that I think. I think you should use more diplomacy, just swallow your pride and not tell people what you really think sometimes, I really do. I don't know. Growing up as a poor boy, background, we were very, very poor. My family was very poor. My father was a mill-worker, worked in the mill and Pushic [an Assistant Principal] and I used to say this a lot, we were so honored to be at Boardman High School, because of our background. His father was a coal miner and mine was a steel mill worker. My father put 47 years in Republic [steel company] and we had five children and we grew up during the depression. We grew up on a farm, I mean we were poor farmers. I mean we didn't have the right equipment, at first. We finally got the grain drill and the corn planted, home made tractors. You know, we butchered pigs and we made our own sausage in the smoke house and it was a poor upbringing, very poor. So I appreciate everything in life. And I think that has a lot to do with our values. And no divorce in our families. No divorce nowhere, none of us have been divorced. You just got married and it was forever. My wife and I...like some people say, I've been married 26 years and never had a problem. No, that's not....I bitch and raise hell, I really do, and she has every right to leave me but we have had our differences. But the word divorce has never been mentioned in this house. I threatened to get an apartment and leave a couple times, but I didn't say I was going to divorce her, you know. We never got to that and she has been very, very patient. When we first got started in teaching, of course, you know in teaching, you don't make a hell of a lot of money and we had 6 kids and we never cried about having 6 kids. It was our business, and we had them, and so you make your bed and you sleep in it and so we just learned to do without a lot of things. You just do without. You know, one bike and you hand it down, a coat and you hand it down. And that gives us values, I think. And I was very proud to be connected with Boardman High School, because of where I came from. Not rich. . . a poor background, in a small little high school, Vienna High School. In my graduating class I think there were 23 kids and you know everybody. You know their mothers and dads and you don't misbehave in a little community like North Jackson, everyone knows who you are. In Vienna everyone knows who you are and you don't want everyone to talk about your mom and dad, they raised a ding, ding, you know. So you kind of keep your nose clean. You just don't do things that would bring ill tidings to the family. To take my mother and dad to Juvenile Court would have broken their hearts. I grew up with a gang and they were bad and when they started to do bad things, I don't know, I was 14 or 15 years old and I started being able to see right from wrong and the hardest think I had to do and I try to share this with the kids is to say, "time out, I'm going home, you guys are goofy." And the first time I did that, oh my God, everybody, my buddies turned on me, called me a yellow belly. And I said, "yea, yea, yea." And I just kept walking and I took the most difficult steps of my life in the opposite direction. And the second time it was easier, to say hey, I'm going home or let me out of the car. I got out of the car once in Youngstown. I got out of the car in Lakeview, blazing snow storm. I remember one night my buddy Glen was driving traveling like a maniac, it was snowing to beat hell and there were 6 of us in this big Packard and I had a funny feeling that he was going to kill us all and I told him. I said, "Glen, stop the car, stop the car." What do you want to do [Glen said]? I said, "stop the car, stop the car." He didn't want to stop the car, so I told him I had to take a leak and he stopped the car and I got out and I slammed the door and I said, "adios." I remember it because the snow and the sleet was hitting me in the face, colder than hell and he said, "how are you going to get home?" And I said, "don't worry, you go without me." And they took off, and I hitchhiked. And about two cars behind them, a family that I knew picked me up and we all met at Isaly's and I was there 10 minutes after they got there. And then it became easier to get out of cars. And I have always shared with the young kids, I worked with that if you are driving with a maniac, get out of the car. Tell them to stop the car and get out. When I worked in the inner cities, I used to give these inner city kids my telephone number and I'd say, you get yourself in a jackpot, give me a call and I'll pick you up. They looked at me and they said, "you'd come down till 2:00?" I'd say, "it doesn't matter, 2:00, 3:00, 4:00 in the morning, I will come and get you; wherever you are I will come get you." They'd call me from the Research Center, "Mr. V., can you get me out of the Research Center" [juvenile detention center]. I'd say, "well Herman, let me look into this. Put the guy in charge on the phone." And I'd get the guy in charge and I'd say, "he's not a bad kid." I'd say, "I know his dad and I know his mom," (I don't know his dad). I'd say, cut him an edge and let him out." And they'd say, "okay, Vac, on your say, we'll let him out of here." And I had a father from Boardman call me one day and he said. "you got to get my kid out of the Research Center, they are beating the hell out of him down there, it's an all black force, black supervisors, black everything." And I said, "well, I know that, I have been down there, but the thing is your son has a bad mouth and he ought to get the shit kicked out of him a little bit, you see and maybe he will learn," but I said, "don't worry, I'll get him out of there." So I called the Research Center and they let the kid out. And he is a teacher, a teacher at Boardman Middle School and he appreciates that I got his kid out of the Research Center, but I had an in with those people, on my say so. If I put a guy in there he stayed. If I put Joe Smik in there and I said "put a hold on him." There is no way in hell you are getting out until I let you out. I put a kid in there one time and put a hold on him. I went to this house one time, this kid wouldn't come to school so Mr. Selby (the Superintendent) said go down and make a home call. I said, " I don't make home calls." I said, "I don't have time to make a home call, I have a visiting teacher that does that." And he said, "No, Vac, go down." So I get in my car and go down to this home on Paxton Drive. I don't know the mother, I don't know the kid. The mother called the school, the kid won't go to school. So I go in, pretty nice house. And I introduced myself to the mother and I am looking for little Bobby and he is nowhere around. And she asked me, she was very, very nice, she got me a cup of coffee and we were sitting in the living room and down the stairs comes this little kid. It was like in the movies. He had a bathrobe on and a scarf around his neck, the ascot and everything and he had his hands in his pockets and he said, "who might you be." And I said, "well my name is Vaclav and I am from the High School." And I said, "your mother tells me you don't want to go to school Bobby." He says, "no I don't want to go to school, I don't have to go to school, and I am not going to school and there is nothing you can do about it." I said, "well, Roberto, let me tell you what I am going to do about this." I said, "tomorrow morning if you're certainly not ill, you're not too ill to come to school and you're not in school, I'll tell you what I'm going to do, I am going to send a cruiser down to this house and pick you up and we are going to put you in bracelets; I am going to put you in the Research Center, I am going to put a hold on you, and book you for a hearing in Juvenile Court for non-attendance, you see. The Law says you got to go school Bobby. Now if you are sick and you can't come, your mother will call and tell me that. But if you are not sick and you don't come (now this is my first year at Boardman), I will send a cruiser to come and pick you up, cause I used to do this in Youngstown." The mother called me about 10:30, the next day and said, "Mr. Vaclav could you give me a half more hour to get him up." And I said, "sure." She calls me at ll:15 and she said, "I got him up, could you give me another hour to feed him?" I said. "sure mom." She calls me at l:15 and she says, "Mr. Vaclav, I don't think we are going to make it." And I said, "I didn't think you were going to make it mom." I said, "well hold tight." And I hung up and I called the Boardman Police Department. Captain Laird answered the phone and I said, "I need a cruiser." And he said, "what for?" I said, "I want you to go to this address, I want you to hand cuff this sixteen year old boy, put him in bracelets, take him down to the Research Center, put a hold on him until I book him for a hearing." And Laird said to me, "Vaclav, that will cost you your job, we don't do that in Boardman." I said, "don't lecture me about what's going to cost me my job, I am really not interested in that. Just crank up a cruiser and go down and pick up this kid, put him in cuffs and put a hold on him in the Research Center." "Okay, Vaclav, but you will be fired Monday morning." I said, "just do it and he did it." He went down and picked up this kid. Never happened in the history of the Boardman Schools, I don't think. We had a bon-fire that night, so I came here changed clothes and went up to the bon-fire. And when I got home about 11:00 my wife said, "Oh my God Bob, you got to call this Linda, she has called this house every half hour on the hour. She wants her son out!" So I called her about midnight. And she said she went down and visited him during supper hour and he is going to be raped. I said, "no he is not going to be raped, I have been down to the Research Center, I know the people down there and it is perfectly safe." She said, "well I want him," and I said, "I don't do that, it is not a revolving door policy. I don't put them in one hour and let them out the next." I said, "leave him stay at least until morning and I will release him to you. You go down and see Underwood and you tell him that Vaclav said to release him to you and then you can keep him home until we book him for a hearing." She said, "okay." So she called me the next day at school and she said, "Mr. Vaclav, they will not let him out. You put a hold on him and they will not let him out until you call him." And so I said, "okay." And so I called them. I hung up the phone and I got to thinking, now here is a new Assistant Principal, Joe, I said, "I'm not going to let that son of a bitch out of there." I'll call Woodside Receiving Hospital [local mental hospital]. I called Woodside Receiving Hospital and said I have a little crazy kid I want you to talk to and they said, "send him over." So I called Laird again at the police department and I said I need another cruiser and they said, "what now Vaclav?" I said, "I want you to go down and pick up the subject. I want you to give him 10 minutes to talk to his mother, then I want you to take him to Woodside Receiving Hospital and admit him. And Laird said, "you have gone too far this time, you are definitely going to lose your job." I said, "I don't give a damn, just do what I am telling you to do. So we went down and picked up the kid, his mother was there, I called her, said you got 10 minutes to talk to your son. She talked to this kid for 10 minutes, got in the cruiser and went straight to Woodside. I never saw the kid again. He was in Woodside for about 5 days and then from Woodside he went to Sagamore Hills. Then from Sagamore Hills he finally graduated at 23 with a high school equivalency. But let me tell you a strange thing. When he went to Woodside and he was at Woodside for 5 days, Woodside transferred him from Woodside to Sagamore Hills, the mother came to see me. The secretary said that, I don't remember what the hell her name was, Claymore, Laymore, or something like that, Mrs. So & So is out here to see you. And I thought, oh Christ, here we go, you know. I never did that before, I never put a kid in Woodside. Well I did one in Hayes for attempted suicide, I put one in Woodside. I thought all hell is going to break loose here, she came in, I stood up, she put her arms around me, kissed me on the check and cried all over my sport coat. I put her kid in Woodside and from Woodside he went to Sagamore Hills and you figure this lady couldn't thank me enough. Cried and cried and cried and I couldn't stop her from crying. She finally went from my office to Kibble's office [the former superintendent]. Kibble called me on the phone about an hour later and said, "my God Vac, what did you do for this lady. We have got a parent in our community that is ever grateful to the Boardman Schools that you wouldn't believe, what did you do? I said, "I put her kid in Woodside, and he said you got to be kidding. You did WHAT? "You know, in Boardman you don't do those things." I said, "well I put him in jail first, the Research Center, then Woodside." And but it is crazy, you anticipate you have a war on your hands and the exact opposite happens. But the mother said, "you know Mr. Vaclav, Bobby had a problem. He had a problem for several years and no one did anything about it and she said, "you are the only one that took the initiative and brought it to a head and we finally got Bobby this Psychiatric help he needed at Sagamore Hills." And I guess it is a Q: uonset hut type setting up there. They have about 10 kids in a Q: uonset hut. A psychologist that works with them. And he really had some twisted ideas. I didn't know that he was that dangerous. I mean he was really fowled up mentally. I didn't know that, I didn't know the kid. But it is amazing, I had a girl when I was at South. I walked in the building one day and everybody grabbed me and they said the Cannell girl is going to jump off the Market Street bridge. I am new, I don't know what the hell I am doing, I'm a truant officer and I've never been a truant officer before and this girl is going to commit suicide and I didn't even know where the hell she lives. The nurse is after me and 3 teachers and the counselor, "you got to get in your car and you got to get there before she jumps off the bridge." I said, "Jesus Christ." I jumped in my car and I find this address and I pulled in this driveway and here is this girl. I said I am Mr. Vaclav from the High School and I no more than, and she said, "would you like a cup of coffee?" And I said that I wouldn't mind a cup of coffee. And so she's making the coffee and another drunk comes to the door and she says excuse me and she helps this other drunk and puts him in another bedroom and I am sitting at the table and I don't know what the hell is going on here. And I said, "you know Rosemary, the reason why I am down here is that the school is all up in arms. They tell me you are going to commit suicide and I can't let you do that." She said, "Mr. Vaclav, I don't have time to die. I have no intentions of committing suicide." I said, "are you sure? You're not funnin me now cause I used to... you're not going to die on me." "No Mr. Vaclav." I said, "where is your mother?" "She is at Woodside Receiving Hospital." Well, I said, "where is your Dad?" "He is painting. He is a painter." I said, "well, I don't know I just don't want you to hurt yourself." So after I left her I felt good about the fact that she wasn't going to kill herself. I guess I have a problem in Boardman this guy, Stanley Hosking, used to bring me this kid he's going to die, kill himself tonight. The kid came Friday afternoon about 2:50 PM. Stanley brought him in. I told the kid, "Christ, can you wait till Monday, can you put this thing off till Monday, I don't have time, the bell is going to ring in 10 minutes here, I would like to.....give me 20 minutes of your time and then if you want to go ahead and blow your brains out, that is okay, but don't do it till Monday, okay? Can you hold this off till Monday?" And the kid looks at me and says, "okay, I can wait till Monday." So I says, "okay, don't do anything till Monday." So I went to the Football game that night and he was at the football game and I put my arm around him and said, "oh my God, David, am I glad to see you're still alive." And he said, "well, I am waiting till Monday." And I said, "okay, but not till until I talk to you." So he came in to see me Monday and I give him my 20 minutes spiel and he is still very much alive. He is still didn't commit suicide. But this Cannell case...after I left this Cannell case, I jumped into my car and I went to Woodside Receiving Hospital. I wanted to talk to the doctor who is working with the mother and I am a nobody. I go to Woodside and I told them who I was, I was a truant officer from South High School and I wanted to talk to Dr. So & So, and the nurse looks at me and she says, "young man, do you have any idea how busy the doctor is? He doesn't have time to talk to you." I looked at her and I says, "I'm going to tell you what lady, my name is Vaclav, I'm from South High School, I am the truant officer and I also am a very, very busy man. You get on the damn phone, you call the doctor, let him tell you he is too busy to talk to me." So she turned around, got on the phone, called the second floor at Woodside. Pretty soon she hung up the phone and said, "he'll be right down to talk to you." So I go out and this guy gets me and I thought I was talking to Sigmund Freud, honest to God. He had an Austrian accent like you wouldn't believe, took me in the side room and he says, "God damn Vaclav, we got to get them kids out of that house." I said, "well, how?. . .He said, "you got to get...." and there were five kids and I have got to get them in foster homes. I mean it is late in the afternoon, I said, "I can't do this." He said, "you must do this." So I took a sheet of paper and I says, "put that in writing, put your name on it." So he wrote this thing out, put his name on it and I put it in my pocket and I left there and went to family services. And I said I need five foster homes for five kids and they said, "it is unheard of Mr. Vaclav, we don't do things like that." I reached in my pocket and pulled out that paper and slid it over there. I don't know who and the hell this guy was. They grabbed the phone and started calling homes and they got those five kids put in foster homes, from the signature of that doctor. He was a big shot down at Woodside Receiving Hospital; that was too busy to talk to me but he did talk to me....great guy. So, that is why, I say, they put their pants on one leg at a time. I don't give a damn who they are. If they are half way decent, you know, you can talk to anybody. Talk to anybody. You know, that Seminar I went to in Canfield, with Columbiana. It hurt my pride that Columbiana was putting on a Seminar.
Q: The drug one?
A: I don't know what the hell it was. Anyway, we had a speaker there that claimed in four phone calls he could talk to anybody in the world. He could make four phone calls and talk to anybody in the whole world. He went over and talked to the terrorists in Lebanon. He told us, you think they are crazy. They're not crazy, they are people like us. They have families and children, they love their wife and they love the children. They are fighting for a cause. And he said he wanted to talk to the rebel leader. They said it is impossible. He said, "the hell, it's impossible, I'm going to talk to him." Made his four phone calls, made the right connections. I don't know who he got. Ended up white flag came down in a jeep. Picked him up and took him up to talk to their leaders. He said you can talk to anybody. You can sit down and talk to anybody. You may not get your way, but you can talk to people. So I have always maintained, I have never been afraid to talk to anybody about anything. What the hell, all they can do is kick me out or tell me to go to hell. But I was never fearful to talk anybody. No matter how serious the problem may have been. But it is funny, I had to girl one time that was going to commit suicide in the cafeteria with aspirins. She got a glass. . . and she was from Saudi Arabia, very attractive girl. She got a glass from the cook and we don't give glasses in the cafeteria. So the cook kind of watched her and called it to the attention of the guidance counselor who was there and told the guidance counselor, "see what she is going to do with that glass." So she took her chocolate milk and put it in the glass and took out of her purse a whole bottle of aspirins, dumped the aspirins in the chocolate milk and was going to drink it, when the counselor grabbed her. And I had gone to lunch that day and when I came back, they had her in my office. She was kind of, you know, a little arrogant. And what had happened, on the way from the cafeteria to my office. . . she had to use the bathroom. So the counselor let her go to the bathroom and she didn't come out of the bathroom. He waited and waited and waited and nobody came out of the bathroom. So he sent a little girl in and the girl said, "there is nobody in there, the window is open but there is nobody in there." So he ran out and saw the girl running down the sidewalk and brought her back and now they are in my office and I just got back from lunch, I don't know what the hell is going on! So very smartly she tells me that you may have stopped me from killing myself here in school but tonight Mr. Vaclav, when I go home I will kill myself and you will have not control over that. None of that ever happened to me before, what do you do? I said, "honey you're not going home." I'll call a cruiser and put her in ...you can't put her in a research center; suicides have to go to Woodside. Now I've got two immigrant parents; one that speaks some English, she he has market on the Northside of Youngstown and the mother who speaks no English and I am trying to explain to them in my office; I have two cruisers out there waiting, why I am doing this. And the father understands, but the mother doesn't understand that the daughter is going to Woodside. Well I finally,.....the father told me that in his country if it were a boy, if it were his son, he said he would know how to do that. He said he would take him in the street and shoot him in the head. That's what the father said. He said, "but girls are different." I said, "yea they're different." So he says okay, so we put her in Woodside and about a week the girl comes back to see me. Now she's back in school and she says, "Mr. Vaclav, I wasn't going to commit suicide. I was just kidding you." I said, "honey don't you ever kid me about taking your life." Yea, I could have been a big hero and said, "yea, go home and blow your brains out."
Q: She didn't take any of these aspirins, was just prepared?
A: No. The counselor caught her. She was going to drink them and the counselor caught her hand. Whether she would have drunk them all or not, I don't know. But when they say they are going to commit suicide, I don't know how to handle that. I talked to the priest, I said you know father, I handle kids that are going to commit suicide and I am not qualified to do that. I just don't think I am qualified to do that. And he said, "has anybody committed suicide that you consoled?" And I said, "not yet." And he said, "then keep doing what your doing" You know I had this one jerk that was going to die everyday in Boardman there. He came to me one day and was going to kill his mom and he was going to wait until they went to sleep and he was going to douse the house with gasoline and set it on fire and burn and burn them up. I said, "oh hell, can't you come up with something original?" That's not original, "wasn't there a movie, The Burning Bed, or something like that." He said, "that's not original?" I said, "hell no. Go home and come up with a better idea." So he went home and about a week later, he said. "know I got it, " he said,"I am going to get my father with a crossbow." I said, "oh hell, that's no good, you got a body to do away with then, you're going to get blood all over hell, and that's not good either, and I don't think that is original either.; that's been done before." He said, "that's not original?" I says, "no." Comes back to see me a week later to take a bottle of mercury away from him. He bought the mercury from home. I said, "well what the hell are you going to do with this Steve?" He said, he found out to put a little bit in the food, slowly they will die of mercury poisoning. He brought the mercury from home, because his grandfather was somewhat of a chemist. I said, "you know Steve, it is time I talked to your mom and dad. So I called them on the phone and they come up to see me and he's in the room and I told them, "you take this boy home, put a few garments in a little bag and get him the hell out of your house, because he is going to kill the both of you. The father and mother looked at me and they couldn't believe it. I said, "oh yea, he and I have been talking now for several weeks, and I don't know if he has got the potential to do this but he cannot live in your house. He had a father, his original father, lived in Texas. I said, "Cart him off to Texas, let him live with his Dad. So they did. He went to Texas. He was down there a short time and his Dad in Texas didn't want him either, ships him back so we are stuck with him again. Now he is going to commit suicide. He called Children's Services, he would give them his name, his school, he would say, "at 10 to 10 on the second floor by the drinking fountain, I am going to take these cyanide capsules and kill myself." So Children's Services doesn't know this kid and they call the Boardman Police. The Boardman Police calls me and I said, "what is the kids name?" And they told me and I said, "drive slowly gentlemen, in fact, don't even come. I will take care of this." So I go up on the second floor at 10 to 10 and there is this character at the drinking fountain. I grabbed him, pulled him into the teachers lounge, shut the door and locked it. I said, "you son of a bitch, give me the pills and he reaches in to his pocket and gives me these big pills, he got from Army - Navy -- water-purifying pills. I said, "you had to call Children's Services, you called the Police, and you got everybody all upset about this whole damn thing. You want to die? If you 're really serious about dying, let me know, and I will tell you how the hell to do it." He said. "help me Mr. Vaclav, you got to teach me how to die." I said, "you go down here to 680 [interstate 680] and you wait by the damn curb until a Peterbilt truck comes, and it has to be a Peterbilt, only the Peterbilt. And you stand there by the road see, and when that thing gets about five feet from you I want to jump in front of that radiator, and I want that Peterbilt sign to hit you right there." And he says to me, "you think that will do it?" I says, "I think that will do it, Steven, but stop calling everybody and telling them that you are going to commit suicide, because you don't have the damn guts to do this, so stop it, will you! "What if the truck doesn't work?" I said, "then I have a 38 revolver at home, you put a round in it and you put it right up here and you pull the trigger. And that should do it." "Can they trace the gun?" I says, "no, I got all the markings off the gun. This gun has been used before. This has been used before see, so if you are really serious about this, come and see me. If you want to die, I will show you how to die, but get off this crap!" And that was the end of it. So he graduates, he goes to Dessert Storm, and you know, whatever. He comes to see me. I tell you, we sat down and laughed and had coffee about this whole damn episode. The whole thing was concocted. He had no intentions of dying or killing his mom or dad. He was so desperately seeking attention.
Q: Just someone to pay attention to him.
A: I was the only guy that paid attention to him. And he and I are friends. Yea, goofy as hell, you know, but in this business you make decisions and sometimes you are flying by the seat of your pants and you don't know what the hell you are doing. I hope I haven't destroyed too many lives, you know, mentally. But I think common sense, a lot of horse sense, that I may have picked up along the way, has helped me a lot.
Q: All this time that you spent in Administration, what kind of an average day would you have, like to say the last seven years that you were at Boardman? What time would you come in, and what kind of a ....give me some idea what a pattern would look like if there were a pattern ?
A: Oh God. I tell you I was at work everyday at 7:00. Every morning at 7:00 I would get there and have coffee and there would be some teachers there. I think Frank, you used to come early and Frank used to stay late. We never looked at the clock. I never looked at a clock, but many times I went out of there 5- 5:30 and come home and go back for a game and after a game a dance. So the days would run about, 10 or 11 hour days. On days that we had a football game and a dance, you are looking at 17-18 hour days and you start meeting yourself coming down the hill but you just keep putting one foot in front of the other. You don't know how and the hell you got the leaves raked. You don't get anything done at home and you have to have a very understanding wife because you know, I don't know what our divorce rate is, in Administration, probably high. Because you know, we get ....you know our job, everything, the job is the most important thing and I hate to say at times have ranked above my wife. It probably did and I short changed her and the kids. I had kids attending Poland and I am working in Boardman. And my kids are playing Football for Poland and I got a Football game in Boardman and it just so happened that during those years Poland played on Saturday afternoons. So I would go to the Boardman game on Friday night and then run over here and on Saturday morning they used to feed the team. So at 7:00, after I get home at midnight, 7:00 we'd feed the kids eggs and everything down at the church and then I would go home and get ready for the game at 2:00 and then I would go see that game. It's mad, I was seeing 4 Footballs games a week there for awhile, when they were in 9th grade and were playing JV's. It was crazy.
Q: Did you ever have a covered system worked out with any of your assistants, where they would go and cover for you at some different events, rotation.
A: Occasionally, but on the away games, I went to everything. I didn't miss a football game in 22 years. I didn't miss a basketball game in 22 years. I felt as though it was my responsibility to go to everything away. Like we are playing Warren Harding, I drive to Warren Harding. We are going to Canton McKinley. I drive to Canton McKinley, get home at midnight or whatever, you know. Hours meant nothing, you just don't get anything done at home, but you know, it is funny but you do get things done, somehow. I was just thinking, we have been married 35 years my wife and I, I think I had a repair man at this house one time, and that is when we first got married and in fact, we bought our first washing machine. I wanted to get the Cadillac of the washing machines and I got the Frigidaire. They said that is the best washing machine going, so I bought a Frigidaire. And that thing lasted about a year. And everything kept getting stuck in the damn pump. The water wasn't getting out and I had a friend of mine who repaired them and he said, "what you got to do Vac, is take the jacket off and unplug all the holes, so the water can get out. You got too much lint in there." We had a lot of diapers. So I said, "I'll call the repair man." And I watched what he did. He turned the machine upside down, took out 6 screws, took out a pair rubber panties, put the 6 screws back in and charged me $40.00 for a home call, $40.00 for doing that and I said, "take a good look at my house my friend because you sure as hell won't ever be back here, I'll guarantee you that." So about three days later the machine screwed up again, I turned it upside down, took out a pair of ladies' hose and put the thing back on and I kept doing that every week and I told my wife, "what the hell this has got to stop." So I finally took this shell off and sure as hell, all those holes that the water rushes out in when it goes into a spin, they are all plugged with lint. I took a clothes hanger and I unplugged every one and I didn't have anymore problems with it. I never had a repair man come in, I fixed the furnaces, I fixed the machines, I put clutches in the damn washing machines, and dryers last forever. I just changed the oil in my car. I do those things and somehow you sneak them in.
Q: How did you fit in....you know in the last 7 years, I know you had tons of paper work...how did you fit in all the paper work with all the contacts. Did you actually go out and physically go out and make a contact when there is a problem or send memos? How did you handle that point?
A: I took on everything. I never sat down at a football game. I had the end seat in basketball so I'd get in the halls in a minute if there was a problem. If there was something in the stands I attacked it. I never sat and watched a football game with my wife and let my assistants run around the football stadium. I was down on the track with them. In fact, I took on ...everything at the away games, so they could spend some time with their families and I told them to stay home on the away games and I'd cover all the away games, girls basketball as well as boys. You know, running over to Warren for the girls tournaments. I would try to....I have been to track meets, baseball games, swimming events, Youngstown State and Hubbard....it just never stopped. How did I get the paper work done? Every night that I was home, that's my study in here, at 9:00 I'd have my briefcase and many nights that was to 1:20, 2:00, six nights a week there was paper work because you don't get anything done in 10 hours at school so you had to take it home. And there was one night a week that I refused to do it and that was Saturday nights. By God I would not open that briefcase, but the stress man said don't bring a briefcase home. You know Bob Wright, he was with the Board of Education, he retired. And one of the reasons why he retired is because of his health. And Bob was going to the doctor and the doctor told him to stop carrying a briefcase . . . it's bourgeoisie. He says I can't, I can't run my job without carrying a briefcase, and he said, "do the best you can, and leave it there and go home." That is easy to say, hell if I didn't bring my briefcase home, Joe, and go in that room, I'd have been buried because that paper work just builds as you know and you got to knock it down. I used to be critical of Selby, because he would never go anywhere. You know, there would be a Principals' meeting in Anaheim California, and I would say, "hey Richard take the wife and kids and go, we'll keep the store till you're gone." He wouldn't go anywhere. He started sending me to the Principals' meetings his last two years he was Principal. I was at the Principals' meetings as an Assistant. He didn't want to go and I never could understand why and now I know why. Because as you go that damn mail is up to here and nobody's going to do what you do. You got to do it! So I put it in my briefcase, honest to God, I can show you, I got the back torn out of it because sometimes I put my knee on it to close it. And it was ripping the back seams out of my briefcase. That's how much shit I would have in there. It is impossible. My family comes over on Sunday to have dinner with Mom and Dad and bring the grandchildren over, and at 9:00 I'd say, "grandpa has to.....you have to excuse me guys I couldn't shut that door." What the hell kind of a life is that. I got my grandchildren here, my sons and daughters and I can't be with them because I got paper work to do in there. And if I don't do it, when the hell am I going to get it done. so I would excuse myself, go in that room, you can ask my wife, many nights, 9:00 to 1:00, 2:00 in the morning to get the damn paper work done because there is an awesome amount of paper work that has to be done. Some reports, I used to farm out, I'd give Lou Rucci a report, I'd give Gene Pushic a report, and let them do it and then I'd look over and sign it and send it on to Selby. But if there is something wrong, it is your butt, you know. This one time, Kibble called me, a suspension letter went out, he found a misspelled word and he asked me, " Mr. Vaclav, do you double check every suspension letter?" I said, "Mr. Kibble, you got to be kidding. I was throwing kids out like hot cakes." Secretaries do the letter, depending what hour of the day, they may misspell a word, it comes back to me and I sign it and it is gone. I don't sit there and read every letter. I assume you have written what I told you to write. What the hell a suspension letter is kind of a canned thing and reason and days. Well there was a misspelled word and he said we can't let that happen and we can't let a misspelled word go out. I said, "well I realize that, and I said I am very sorry." Well you want to be more careful about that, you know. I thought, Jesus Christ! You know there would be weeks some days I'd throw out 8-10-15 kids in one day, let alone a week of that, and he wants me to read every letter. You just don't have the time to do all that, and you have to trust your secretaries and I did, there is a great group of secretaries. Mary gets a little goofy some times, but when the going gets tough the tough get going and them secretaries, I tell you whenever the National Honor Society came in to being, it required a lot of work. You know graduation, a lot of work on the secretaries, setting up the lines and everything, unbelievable. The secretaries would do it and do it right. One time we left out some doodads in the booklet, I am going in to Commencement. Two old ladies attack me, right there at the door, I am going in. It is 3:00, there's a mistake in the program. I said, "I am very sorry ladies but there isn't too much I can do right now. What is the mistake?" "Well, they left my daughter, the didn't put an asterisk, she was in here as an...and." I said, "well I am very sorry." "Well, what are you going to do about it?" I said, "right now I got to go to this Commencement Program, you see and then I am going to get back to this program." I thought, Oh Shit. Well the secretaries didn't check it closely enough and they felt so badly about it. I said, "don't worry ladies, I ordered 400 new programs, so every graduate got a corrected edition." It cost us another $500.00 or something to get that new program but everyone got the corrected copy and the secretaries felt so badly and I said, "ladies don't worry about it, those things will happen, you just roll." They said, "you are taking the heat for us." I said, "well, what the hell, you're the Principal, you got to take the heat for it. It is a mistake that someone else had done but you got to live with the damn thing." But I can't say enough about the secretaries, they were just fantastic people. Fantastic people.
Q: Given the ever increasing complexity of your job and the demands and now we have this Senate Bill 140, and all the demands of that. Can you cite 3 areas where you feel that there should be some change in Administration in your Principalship in general. Generally speaking to improve Educational Administration in general?
A: Senate Bill 140, that is awesome. That damn thing goes on and on and on. I think right now we got the heat on the proficiencies, trying to get people to pass the 9th grade proficiency, 12th grade proficiency. I don't think there is anything wrong with our schools. With the communities expecting our youngsters to be able to graduate with a 9th grade proficiency. I don't think that is asking too much. Somehow or other we got to get back to geography. My daughter teaches in one of the inner city schools at the high school level and they are not to certain what's the name of the large body of water that lies off the Eastern Coast. They are not too certain if Ohio is a Country, a State, a Continent. Somewhere along....these are high school kids. Somewhere along the line we got to get back to the basics. I don't know how and the hell we do that. I don't want to pass the buck into the middle schools, or the elementary or where and the hell this begins, but somehow or other, by the time a kid gets to be a junior in high school, if he can't pass a 9th grade proficiency test, there is something wrong, somewhere. I don't know... we got away from teaching Geography, you know, built in the curriculum. We think that was unnecessary. Our kids were too sophisticated for Geography. Everybody knows the states surrounding Ohio, and we know where the bodies of water are, we don't need Geography. I was talking to my daughter one day and I asked her...she is a pretty bright young girl, master's degree, Eastman School of Music, everything. I said, "honey, do you have any idea, ball park figure of where Iran is?" She looked at me and said, "don't start!" She said, "but to answer you question, no I don't know where Iran is and furthermore Dad, I don't give a damn were Iran is." So I kept telling my wife, I am going to put those maps on this wall, so we sit here and talk with kids. You know where Iran is, you have any idea, Iraq, Suez Canal they don't have any idea where those things are. They wouldn't even let me put maps on the wall either. But, I don't know the complexity of the job I think, running the Proficiency test, I think Ohio has done away with some of the tests. What the hell, they did away with the l0th grade achievement test, I think they are going to do away with that and go with the 9th grade proficiency. But each year you give the 9th grade proficiency, for instance, the...it becomes more difficult because you have to prepare. Austintown, I was talking to the Principal, they had to rent tables into the halls because a certain percentage of the kids failed it so when you give it again in November, November and March, you got more people taking it.
Q: And more each year.
A: Yea, yea. There are any tables and chairs. And you are disrupting a whole damn atmosphere of education to give a proficiency test. The first time we did it, like everybody, we didn't know how and the hell we were going to do that and we disrupted the whole day to get the damn thing running. That ought not to be.
Q: You are saying then that, get State off your back?
A: Oh, well like we ran that damn, what the hell self evaluation. You know, what the hell do they call it?
Q: North Central?
A: North Central. Christ it was awesome. If it wasn't for those three people that did it for me...Guterba and Sue DiGiacomo and Brooke Farkas, I don't know how the hell you'd do it. I don't know how one guy in the building would handle all that unless you stop everything else. You got to get good people to do that for you but then Dick hedged on that, he wasn't too crazy about doing that North Central. And I said, "you know we have to be accredited, if the community of Boardman finds out the school is not accredited by the North Central, that is not going to go down too good. You want to at least be a credited school. Well, with the State coming in every five years now he says we'll just duplicating issues, so we ought to do away with North Central. I don't think Boardman will every do another North Central. They will probably do away with it because you know what that thing cost us, and we went first class, we are talking close to five grand. Five grand for that damn report that no one reads, they throw it on a shelf somewhere and no one pays attention to it. And what I wanted to do an administrator, I wanted to go to each department and read what departments said about themselves. The self criteria of the evaluations and then try. I like to help teachers, I like to help departments the best I can. In my department chair meetings I used to tell the department chairman, now you are the experts, I am not an expert in Science, Math, in English and Reading so you have to tell me what you want. And they would sit there and they wouldn't say anything. I would say, "come on guys you are the experts, let's try something." Before we got new Math books this year, I would say Denny, "let's try something different in Math." If we screw up we will put our tail between our legs and punt and come up with another program but let's do something different. Let's make it interesting for kids and if we make a mistake that is okay. It's okay to make a mistake, go back and try another direction but to just go on and on and on with the ....I don't know.
Q: How acceptable where they to these changes? Denny Hawk would probably be acceptable because I have seen some of the programs he has done. What about your overall faculty, how did you handle the change with them.
A: No they didn't.....they didn't like change. People don't like change. They just want to stay the way things, status quo, the way it's been going. Yea, Denny was very instrumental in getting the new Math. In fact, this year, they got all new Math books.
Q: Yea, I got the old ones, thanks.
A: Is that right? I think they are going Math...I don't know if it is K-12 or 8-12?
Q: Integrated Math....K-12, yea.
A: And they went over to somewhere in Pennsylvania and seven teachers went over there and spent a day with those people but then someone said the other day, that the Math goes back to basic Math that we had when we were kids. I don't...I don't know what integrated Math is but it is combining all phases of Math at one shot...one textbook. I don't know, rather that specializing in everything you know.
Q: It is more of a common sense approach, problem solving, a lot of estimation.....
A: It's an improvement
Q: Was Denny Hawk one of the only ones who would except the change? I mean how would you handle it if your....let say, science or social studies didn't want to make any changes and they just believed in the one method of teaching.
A: Well we were fortunate, you know, even in Science we had Lendon and he was pretty instrumental and he...and of course, they kept saying we were so advanced to most of the people in the county that they didn't like to attend county meeting. The Superintendent wanted them to attend County meetings because they said we are the pacemakers and the County kind of picks up where we've left off. And it is nice because even in drawing up the curriculum, there were many times that we had sorts and we had different textbooks than everybody else in the County. Everybody thinks the County picks the textbooks. Well they do in a sense but then we would go one step further and maybe get another track. We would have to write a sort to bring to class and then we were picked one time to come up with creative ideas. Creativity from the classroom's point of view. You know, you can write your own manual and write a sort, send it to the County, send it to the State, get it approved and then we get a different class going for us here. The department chairs were at times, in fact, I had a word with Dykins one time. Dykins and I got into it in the office and I told him the department chairman don't show me a hell of a lot. I said I can see the need to get rid of them all. Get rid of them all, get all new department chairs, bring in the young hawks, bring in the young bloods. New life in an old program. Oh my God, did that piss him off. Oh man, he slammed, kicked a few doors and went on and thought they better get rid of the Principal instead of the Department Chairs. But I just threw that out to him, oh man, did he get defensive with that. I said, "you people don't show me anything. You are supposed to be the experts in all the different fields." What the hell, I have 10 department chairman in there and it is too much....I cannot be an expert in all those fields. I had to rely on their input. Fortunately, Social Studies got a little stagnate at time. Then Aaron, he is a pretty thorough guy. Once you give Aaron something to do he really goes ahead and does it. You can't change History though, how can you change the teaching of History, what are you going to do with it. I don't know, but you go to so damn many meetings, Frank, you know, House Bill 140, Proficiency Testing. I went down to Columbus on a Proficiency test and they couldn't give us any answers to our questions and they told us this is the way it is going to be and that is all there is too it. And the one girl we spoke to says, "I am not answering any of your questions." We are all Principals in the room. And she says, "I am not answering any of your questions so don't even ask, hear me out for 20 minutes and then go get your coffee but I am not answering any of your questions." And we thought what the hell kind of a deal is this. We brought pads and tape recorders and everything because we didn't know about this Proficiency, what the hell is going down with it. They wouldn't give us any answers but you know. The thing that I regret, most of all, I guess I was more....I got involved in too much discipline. I could not be creative from an educational point of view. I spent too much time with discipline. When I was an Assistant Principal my whole day was discipline and I was wondering why in the hell I went to college some times. What the hell did I go and get two degrees for. I could have done this when I was driving cement mixers for Youngstown Building Material. You know, you get to wondering sometimes. I am not doing anything for education. I am not a leader, an educational scholar, hell I'm a death fighter. I am into trenches all my life. And then this will go on day after day and I really did, Joe, say what the hell did I go to school for? What have I done great for education today or this week or the end of the year? That is why I left the inner city. I was in the inner city....after a month you evaluate a little bit maybe after a week, maybe at the end of the day. You know, I didn't come up with too many positive things and at the end of the month no positive things. At the end of the year...after two years of being in the inner city, my batting average was .000, and I thought what the hell am I doing, humanitarian for education. I wasn't doing anything. I was putting out fires on the second floor and stopping fights in the God damn middle of the street. What am I doing for Education. I couldn't come up with anything. I really couldn't. And then to be an educational leader, you know and to take House Bill l40 or whatever it is and to dissect it and push that ahead, you would have to be left alone. You couldn't be bothered with these other trivial things you know. And everything to me was important. Every little thing was important to me. A teacher would come to me with a problem, I tried this a couple of times, Joe, I would tell her , "well, okay, I'll look at that the first thing in the morning. I didn't do a damn thing with it. She never came back and I never saw her again. She thought I did that. I didn't do it. I thought I wonder if I can tell more people that. Okay, Frank, I'll take care of it first thing Friday morning, and don't do a thing about it. I wonder if that would work. Or you can come back in to find out I didn't do it and I'd say, "Damn, it Frank, I'll tell you what, it slipped my mind and I'll get it Tuesday," and then don't do it. But every time someone brought me a problem I went and attacked it. I took care of every damn minute little problem because I thought no matter how small it seems to me, it must have been pretty big to him or he wouldn't have come down. So I went and got the thing and went after him. Well hell, House Bill 140 goes by the boards. Educational Leader, I didn't have much time for that, it seemed like. I don't know, you feel secure with things that work and you got to be a kind of gutsy person and of course you are always conscientious about the faculty. You know they got to figure you slipped your gears, your loony tune, what the hell is he doing know. You know the goofy Principal, you know. So you kind of try to get some input from before you do anything. Like I would .....I was lucky, I went to the Chairs [department chairpersons] a lot and I would run things by the Chairs....I'd say, "what do you think of this?" And they would get vocal if it wasn't a good deal, they would tell me if they thought it would be pretty good. Fine we will do that. So I used to get a feeler from the Chairs. And then take on the faculty and there are faculty members you are never going to please no matter what the hell you do. So you just live with that. You try to get along with everybody and please the faculty and that is almost impossible. And that used to bother me because I wanted to get along with everybody, please everybody and still move education ahead and some times it didn't get done, just didn't get done. And Dick used to tell me, you got to stop being the disciplinarian. Well you know, it seemed like nothing ever got done.
Q: Well, . . we appreciate the time. . .
A: I didn't give you any answers. I didn't get to answer too many of your questions.
Q: You, you more than sufficiently answered mine. . .
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