Q: First off, could you briefly, I guess, describe your background prior to coming to Musselman High School?
A: Yes, I graduated from Shepherd College. Didn't get a teaching certificate at the time. That was in '35 and I think school teaching jobs were paying $110.00 a month for nine months. And I went to work for the power company and it was while I was working for them that a coaching job opened up in Shepherdstown, where I lived and I applied for it and got it. Any by having never applied for a certificate, why the dean of the college was able to substitute a few courses of like character and get me a certificate. Now I did have to take six hours of credit right away to bring it up to date. And I started at Shepherdstown High School for two years and it seemed like I have a way of getting the old will of superintendent because they do so much more for the county seat school than they do for the other schools and I just told them point blank that they could pay me as much as they were paying the coach in Charlestown or I wouldn't be back. And they said, "Well he has more boys." And I said, "Well since when has more boys been a handicap to a coach?" I mean its just the reverse and they didn't come through with it. So as I worked with the power company I learned the trade of electrician so I just started doing electric wiring on my own. It was a very good tome because a lot of farms didn't have current at that time. That was great field and I was in that for three years and the school at Musselman was being built and Mr. George Whitehair, teacher at Martinsburg High School, had been appointed principal and he played cards with a group of men. He played bridge with a group of men and he asked one of them who was a teacher out at the Shepherdstown High School where he could get a coach and he told him to go after me. So he came down and talked to me and I went up and looked over the school. Brand new school, no facilities whatsoever and no gymnasium, just the main unit. The Musselman, C.H. Mussleman Company built school at all the places they had plants; Bickersville and Somerset, Pennsylvania, at that time. And he was getting right old and he told his wife, "Don't forget Inwood, we want to build them a school." So, sure enough, the board of trustees made the offer to the county and the county bought a piece of land and leased it to the Musselman Company for a couple of years and when the Musselman Company turned it back to them, had a building on it. That was the legal way in which they did it and I tell you, they were mighty fine people, just top notch. We put a port a big effort to get a gym and the county had a bond issue, $150,000. That wasn't enough to complete it or to put in bleachers so Musselman asked what they needed and they said, "$50,000," and they gave $50,000 on that.
Q: That was after the school was built, I guess?
A: Yes, that was when the gym was added. The school was built in 1949-50 and the gym was build in '55
A: And then about two years later they bought thirteen acres on the other side of the Spurr Railroad track, right adjacent to our property and built the lighted football field with bleachers, track, chain link fence, parking lot, the whole works.
Q: You started teaching at Musselman then in 1959-50 for Mr. Whitehead? *(Ed. Not my mistake the principals name was Mr. Whitehair.)
A: Yes, I was the coach.
Q: What did you coach?
A: Football, basketball, baseball...
Q: The whole works.
A: The whole works. As I say there wasn't a thing up there. There was a field big enough for a football field with five-six foot tall weeds all over it. So along with the Lions Club of Bunker Hill, we set up work nights and they would come down with their machinery, and so forth and help clear up those weeds and everything. Then the Lions Club advanced me $200.00 to buy pipe for baseball backstop and basketball goals which we got down at Binners, a junk place in Charlestown at a good price. I was hired the month of August, maybe a little sooner. It might have been the middle of July, right after I was appointed to go up and go to work on it. So we had it cleared. We had basketball the first year, although we didn't have a gym, but we practiced on the outside court..
Q: On the outside court?
A: That we had built and then there was an old church, abandoned church down at Bunker Hill, about a mile and a half below us and we built in our Vo.Ag. shop, we built a basketball framework to keep the ball four or five..the basket four or five feet out on the floor so you could cut underneath of it and took it up there and drilled through the back of the wall, the old brick church and hung that and put a big coal stove in the corner at the other end and that's where we started.
Q: That's amazing.
A: We practiced any place we could find a gym. Graded school gym in Martinsburg, the floor down at Newton B. Baker Hospital. They had a gymnasium at that time. Hedgesville's floor when wasn't in use; even went to Harpers Ferry to have a practice. There floor wasn't in use. Needless to say we didn't win many ball games, if any, the first year in basketball. But I never saw such enthusiasm. There were times when we never got in double figures and the kids would yell just as much if we got basket or a foul shot. Being twenty points behind just as much as if we were winning the ball game. It was tremendous. The first time they had ever had a school of their own. The first time they had ever had organized athletics.
Q: Where would those kids have gone to before, then', Martinsburg?
A: Martinsburg. Now there was a school at Bunker Hill. Very limited but all the kids in that area had the privilege of going to Martinsburg. We..so it just had the few students that didn't want to spend that time on the road and went up there and the students that were in Martinsburg had the privilege of remaining there to graduate. They didn't have to come back...
Q: They didn't have to come to Mussleman to finish.
A: ... as juniors or seniors. We had three students in the first graduating class.
Q: Three students. How many students were in Musselman that first year, then?
A: I imagine, 250.
Q: 250, how many grades?
A: Six; seven through twelve
Q: Seven through twelve. So, then when did you become principal?
A: Well, I would like to tell you a just a little bit more about the coaching end of it. Of course, Mr. Whitehair he was just tops. He was one of the smartest educators ever hit the state of West VirginiA: He was very modern. Thinking way ahead and we just did so many things that set the others on edge. I mean with our limited facilities even. I had an eighth grade homeroom first year and had eleven good athletes in it. And the class before them had a couple so that's really what we started football with. A couple of men got together and put on a great big chicken supper there at Musselman. Earned $400.00 and we went down to Stonewall, a school in Virginia, who was closing out football and brought all their equipment. It wasn't the right color. Well, didn't have school colors at the time and but when we pick'em we picked green antiwhite because no other school close to us had those colors. And we went along and took our licks. Our first year in football though we were 500. We won two, lost two, and tied two. And I tell you we took some licking. But, boy when those boys were seniors we went undefeated in football, undefeated in basketball and won eight out of ten in baseball.
Q: That was the same group you had in homeroom,.that first year?
A: Yes, when they were seniors. You know it just phenomenal to be that close to having an undefeated year and if I may I blame the lose on a girl.
Q: Oh, really.
A: And I didn't know it until after the game. I knew something was wrong. But my pitcher was A-number one pitcher. Really good and he just pitched like he had no life at all and I found out later he had a big spate with his girl in the hall and so...
Q: That's something.
A: And then the Board of Education wanted to make a change in at Martinsburg and with Mr. Whitehair's record at Musselman, a very successful school in every aspect. Why they wanted him to come in and take it. Well, he told them he wouldn't take it unless they made me principal at Musselman. Now I'd renewed my certificate several times but at the undergraduate level. I didn't have an hour on a master's degree. But they gave it to me provided I got it as rapidly as possible. So, that first summer I started at G.W. in Washington and rode the train down. Go to Harpers Ferry and park your car and catch the train down to Union Station. And at that time they had street cars. Catch a street car right across, well within one block....
Q: Of G.W.
A: Of the education department at G. W. In two years I finished that taking well ... I took two classes a semester, that was twelve hours in the winter. I think nine hours in the summer. First summer I only took six hours. But I hadn't been to school for quite awhile. Wanted to get my feet on the ground. And on that pace why I ... You had to have thirty-three hours of G. W. work. They say that, of course I didn't have other graduate credit. But they say we'll accept them. Put them on your transcript but you still have to have thirty-three hours of our work. Anybody who had graduate hours usually lost most of them.
Q: So what year was that?
A: That was in '60.
Q: 1960, then you were; you were their until ...
A: I was there sixteen years as principal.
Q: til 76?
Q: 75, and you retired in 75?
A: Yes, I took it at 62 years of age. Course, things had been awful rough. It didn't look to me like they were going to get any better. I just figured no use to stay here a couple of years. Although salary wise I would have been way ahead. Because after I left the salaries escalated at a rapid pace. As a principal of a six year high school $14,000 was my top pay.
Q: $14,000 was you top in 19 ... ?
Q: 1975, that's absolutely amazing to say.
A: Well, there is no question about it in Berkeley County we were hampered for a number of years with elementary men as superintendents and that should never be. If I have learned anything, if you have a six year high school or even if you don't your going to have senior high schools and elementary schools. There should be an assistant superintendent at least in charge of each one and maybe a good school man and also a good business man as far as school law, school finance and all that's concerned. As the head of it and these others would be in charge of their divisions.
Q: Like, elementary, middle and high school?
A: Elementary or middle school and secondary school. Some things were just so out of line, so disgusting. The situation... some of the situations I was in now it was down right sickening. First, they didn't pay secondary men anymore than elementary principals. And when you had all the activities that you have in secondary school. The all caused you tremendous headaches. Honor roll, number one rank in class, honor society; you'd be surprised at how people get upset about the honor society when their kid don't make it. Senior class trips and endless number of sock hops and dances. Our kids in that end had no other entertainment much at first. And we had quite a few sock hops. And they'd raise a little money. Each one had their own treasurer and did their own thing and along the way saved enough to make a good class trip. Put on their prom as juniors and still have enough left for their senior class trip and most of the time leave a gift to the school. Another thing they had no idea of the enormous amount of work to get the handout ready to had to the teachers. And I was only given two weeks to close school and two weeks to open school. Not there at the summer.
Q: So you weren't there in the summer. You were just eleven months?
A: No, but I had to go back up any number of times and spent an awful lot of time. Kid wanted a transcript. They'd ask for one, you know, and you'd have to go back up. Then later they got around to hiring a secretary through the summer but not the principal.
Q: Just the secretary?
Q: Just to answer the phone, then?
A: Just to answer the phone and I'd get everything ready I could in two weeks to; so she could go ahead and bed things down, you know, and to get enough other material ready so that she could work during the summer. Typing up class rolls and things like that. But it was all a result of their elementary background. It was pointed out distinctly by Leo Keescher, who was principal of a graded school and then was elevated to principal of a junior high, where they had enrollment and separate classes and all that. "Boy," he said, "Do I ever know the difference." He said, "No comparison whatsoever. I just took the register of the fifth grade and handed to the sixth grade teacher. There is your class next year." And..but they couldn't see that. If ever I was ready to throw up my hands and walk out was the summer that ...During the summer my secretary; I only had one. Sometimes she'd have a student help her. She came down with this multiple dystrophy. And couldn't be there at all. And I called up the superintendent, he was an elementary man and I said, "My number one secretary is not here, she is sick. We have two weeks to open school. I need help." And guess what my answer was. "I'll take it up at the next board meeting." I said, "My God, man I don't need help then, I need help now!" And he said, " How much you going to pay her?" I said, "You know I don't handle any finances here in this office. That's all handled at the board office." And... I already knew besides Martinsburgs regular secretary they'd given them an extra one to get ready. And yet their principal was hired all through the summer. And I say, "What you paying the one at Martinsburg?" And, boy he hit the ceiling. "Leave Martinsburg out of this; Martinsburg got nothing to do with this." I said, "Comparison wise I can't see how it doesn't." An so finally I got a secretary. A student that had been at Musselman and had helped some with enrollment and you know, when you get your whole master schedule work out. And then you take the enrollment cards and see which period. Some of the students had helped us with that. But ... for a man his answer should have been. "Man, I know your in trouble. What can I do to help." That should have been his answer.
Q: Was he superintendent then your entire time?
A: Oh no. that the other part I want to make. I worked under five or six superintendents in the time I was there which shows you that the superintendent is not the stable part of you program. Your good principals, and teachers are your stable part. I mentioned this to Delmas Miller. Now he ... he was professor at West Virginia University. He actually had been president of the National Teacher's Association and a very smart man. And we were at a North Central meeting together. We were talking about this. And he said, "Well you'll find out superintendents aren't the stable part of your education system." And the big reason is they were good teachers and maybe good principals but when they got to superintendent they became wheeling and dealing politicians. And they tie them selves up in such knots with people and organizations and so forth. There was nothing to do but leave. And as I say...
Q: So that's what caused the turnover in Berkeley County all the time?
A: Yea, sure and every place else that ... there is a rapid turnover.
Q: They say their life expectancy is only about three or four years in one place.
A: Three or four years, well I don't doubt that.
Q: Was there ...
A: And the other thing I found out to elementary super ... well, of course, for a long time North Central didn't even have junior high schools but then they started taking them. And I am not sure its not down to grade school now. But at that time they didn't even take junior highs and this elementary superintendents don't put much stake in North Central. If it suits them alright but if it doesn't suit them they don't pay any attention to it. You, you can't run a school that way. Actually the board is the one that goes on record approving the school belonging to North Central and when they approve that you belong they automatically approve their regulations that you have to keep up with and many times there a little stiffer than the state regulations. But I say you don't have to belong but if you do belong its well worthwhile because you couldn't get examinations like they put on with all these professional people coming from other schools all around; even other states, going over your school and your curriculum. And one of the most profound statements I think in their book is"...schools may be quite different but equally good." And that's why they pay so much attention to the school and the community anti the philosophy and the objectives. And their primary underlying theme is; are you meeting the needs of the students. But, of course, different localities needs of the students be different. So you meet their needs. You don't put in something and turn out a whole lot of people with no jobs in that particular area available.
Q: You kind of touched on it a little. I don't know if it was a problem. How, Berkeley County has several different high schools. Martinsburg...
A: Yeah, Martinsburg, Hedgesville.
Q: How big a problem was that, you know, working with the central office? Kind of rivalry between schools. Did that create some friction there with who got what and how they dealt with each school? Whether Martinsburg got all the good stuff and...
A: I always felt so. Matter of fact I made the statement many times. They treated Musselman like an unwanted step-child. And that situation pointed up another caring fallacy in our county unit setup. Same thing happened in Jefferson County. Martinsburg got new gymnasium, Hedgesville got a new school. Musselman was overcrowded, overcrowded, overcrowded. The whole time I was their we were completely overcrowded. They couldn't get a bond issue passed. Well no wonder. Musselman or Hedgesville can't have anything that Martinsburg don't want them to have because their the center of your population.
Q: The city of Martinsburg can dictate what Musselman...
A: They can out vote. And the same thing happened here in Jefferson. We had a good high school out here. And had the largest number of Merit Scholars of any place around. A lot of it due to the influence of families of college. You know, it just a higher level of education down here than there is other places. And they voted to close this school and make it a junior high and go down in the country six or seven miles in the center of the county and build a school. Well Shepherdstown couldn't they...supported their own school but they don't support that one down there very well. Way down there ...
Q: Not a community school anymore?
A: That's right. They are the Cougars, took a different name. Well Shepherdstown was the Cardinals. Harpers Ferry was the Tigers. Charlestown was the Panthers. But they got a new emblem and all but they really had trouble getting school spirit and getting things going.
Q: Then you, would you think based on what you experienced here that the relatively small community school has more advantages than, you know, the great big centralized school?
A: No question about it. And that's the reason why Shepherdstown should've never been closed. That very year or the year before that .... James Rumsey Tri-County Vocational School located in Martinsburg, well it's on the Hedgesville Road. It's on this end of Martinsburg. It's not a long drive from here to there, ten-twelve miles, maybe, and they bused students in. Well you see they claim in a smaller school you can't offer a broad enough curriculum and all this. But when James Rumsey started they picked all the real expensive things. English and social studies are your most inexpensive subjects. Shop, machine shop, in particular, and shop and now, of course, computer and all that are your much more expensive subjects because of equipment and so forth. So with these buses going on a regular schedule all these students could take those subject so you could add that to your curriculum. And there's no question its much better to have in Jefferson County and Hedgesville three student councils instead of one. Everything you see is just ...
Q: Well, that gives more students more opportunities.
A: That's right. More students are presidents, more students are secretary, more students are this and that and the other.
Q: Did you find that, I guess, in that same light when the Musselman kids being from, I guess, a relatively small school when they went to college; whenever they went, they did just as well as somebody from alot bigger school?
A: Oh yeah. Yes, when they went from Musselman. We were kind of slow and really I am glad we were of taking on this modern math. And one of the professors from West Virginia University was down there one day going around and I asked him, I said: "Are our students really hurt by...when they enter West Virginia by not having this modern math,"And he said. "No" Well in some few cases I think they were. So the first thing we did was put a course in introductory modern math so they be familiar with the term. At least they know what the professor was talking about instead of being completely out of it. And as you know that's kind of fizzled out. We were in Canada this past year at Vancouver in one of the big stores and this girl; the customer ahead of us. As she was punching out her sales and something went wrong with the computer. And do you know that girl got frustrated and she looked up at the customer and said, "How much change do I owe you?" Now that's A: .. you see they do all the subtracting and all you, just amount of the bill, amount of the money and I'll give you so much change. And when that don't work their lost. You can't get away from fractions. Knowing the rule. You know I had a janitor up there for about ten years that I didn't know to the very last that he couldn't read a rule.
Q: Is that right.
A: Couldn't read a rule and that's another thing. When I first took over as principal up there I was riding to G. W. and back on the ride and I do alot of my scheduling and so forth in those couple of hours it took me to get to Harpers Ferry. And I realized I'm looking for schools, for rooms for third and fourth graders and it hit me, you know, I don't know why it never hit anybody else but if there's any reason at all for having a division in education at the college level and the primary and secondary then an elementary students should be in under elementary material under elementary teachers with elementary material. About this time when we began to get so many that couldn't read and poor readers they started printing the textbooks on seventh grade textbooks on a fourth grade reading level. You see you getting further behind all the time and the students getting under more pressure as he moves up the ladder where the drop out rate starts to take effect and he's with the brighter students.
Q: He's lost and can't do it anyway.
A: He's lost and can't do it anyhow. This federal government has been getting on this thing about people can't read. And I said well they can correct that in a few years. I said all they have to do is from the time they start school saying out of this school you don't graduate when you sixteen, you won't graduate when you twenty. You won't get out of school until you can read and write. Now that will put the pressure on from the very beginning and you'll finding them learning much earlier. You see there's no hold back. This old thing of the superintendent that I told you about. This elementary man said, "its far better to keep them with their age group and their age size. We don't want great big boys back in smaller grades with the smaller kids." Well you see you got to go a step further when you do this. You have to provide classes just like Jefferson County did with the ones who are suspended now. They've done two things. There one of the first around here that if there's any dope there suspended that semester. They can come back next year but they can't come back this next semester. And, and boy that's put ... but they don't kick them out on the street. They have down at another closed school, abandoned school and they hired a teacher and those boys go down there and they study. There in school a half a day under supervised study, of course, and smaller class size and the boys are getting their diplomA: Now these kids they learned to read and write but they just get behind and once they get behind there discipline problems all the way through. And most teachers get a little group around the desk that want to learn and teach them and these others there expendable. You know, we can't and they will ... they'll take up all your time with discipline if you let them. Because you got to get them out of the mainstream. Let the other kids go ahead.
Q: Were you able to do that at Musselman? Do anything to affect that kind of thing? Any programs for that?
A: We started a program on our own when we saw we were getting all these students at the third and fourth grade reading level. I started a class. I didn't ask the county superintendent or anybody else. Seven prep. We were going to take one group a year and prep them to get ready to enter our regular seventh grade.
Q: Like a repeat seventh grade kind of? started there?
A: Well I tell you. Yeah"and the teacher I has was a pretty smart fella and but he came to me later and he said, "These guys aren't disadvantaged or anything wrong with them." He said,"A lot of them are fairly smart," he said, "there just underachievers." See they just goofed off and haven't achieved anything but they have the ability. And that's they way with these guys who don't read. The old system was keep them two years and move them on. Well the first year they goofed off and didn't learn anything and the second year they think well I don't have to learn anything now. I'm going to be moved on anyway.
Q: Moved on anyway.
A: Talk about kids being dumb. There the smartest. They can twist adults around their little fingers. Oh, they can make them look like fools.
Q: How does, I know you were probably there; just finishing up, I guess, when the big increase in all the special federal programs; LD, EMH; we have initials for everybody. How do you view that looking back on all those programs they started. Were they at Musselman that much when you...
A: I took over at Musselman, if I had been any lesser type of character or fellow I'd said, "hey," cause the superintendent to get Mr. Whitehair to go to Martinsburg said George, "you got no place to go but down." Now heres, you know, you got this school. Now here's an experienced man with worlds of experience and really successful and he's got no where to go but down. And here comes a guy in with not even his master's degree and he's going to take over this job, see. Well that would have been discouraging but the thing that really helped us out, NDEA came in at just about that time full swing, National Defense Education Act and a strange thing happened. I had some new energetic fellows, top-notch teachers and I told them; I said, "spend a little time and order anything you think we can use." Well it just so happened that the teachers at Martinsburg and at other places had more or less been doing that for years and never getting anything. And this particular year they didn't ask for much. We got everything we ordered. Of course, they jumped on the bandwagon the next year. But we got a complete new biology lab. We got new math lab with the ... all the logarithm and tables and everything in the top of the desk. Magnetic T-square type of thing that you ran up and down the side and ' followed your lines across. All kinds of overhead projectors, just everything. Biology included tables and...
Q: The whole bit.
A: The whole bit. Teacher's desk and all. We were needing that type of thing because they only lab we had was a chemistry lab. And then when we got the new science rooms we had them. What little influence we had to build fairly large rooms. Now that was when the time came in when you let the kids do it. And if your going to let the kids do i% you have to to have space . More than just room to hold the desk and they did that. They gave us the space. And I think it was through that particular program that Fred kind of got the ill will of they guy who had been moved up to Director of Education. He was from down at the south. He came up here as an expert in the open school ... the open classroom, of course, fizzled out. That was for the birds. I went with the first group of principals from here to Florida to visit with four or five schools but NOVA, in particular, because that was the most modern and newest. And I couldn't see a thing in their scheme that was any better or even came near being as good as a good teacher in a good classroom with the right teaching load except their visual aides. And they had a center and had somebody, an adult, their all the time but they used student help and any classroom could call that center and say just put so and so on and they go to the file and get it and they could put it on a movie machine. They could put it on an overhead projector, opaque projector. They had them all lined up and facing this thing that they could throw into and with they...
Q: Put them into each room like a T.V. set up.
A: Yeah, Put that immediately, I'll teach it. Now I guess it was better if the teacher would do a little planning ahead and said I am going to need this on a certain day and that on a certain day cause they'd have it already picked out of the file right ready to put on the machine. But that was ideal because immediate visual aid just like discipline. Immediate discipline is the very best thing.
Q: How about you were, I guess, going to describe what Musselman was like when you were there. How the kids were? How the teachers were? How would you do that?
A: Oh, at the beginning it couldn't have been any better situation. Everybody was eager to go. Everybody was eager to work. I characterize once the difference was at first no matter what you had to do. If I 'd go down the hall and say I need a group of young men to do this or a group of boys to do that; carry chairs or do something. Man alive they flock to it. When it changed about the 60's, last of the 50's and 60's you go down the hall and say I need a few boys they'd scatter. Just like that. And never was it proven better about this. Mr. Whitehair's philosophy always was dress influences behavior. And when these long hairs came in and I kept on'em for a long while. Finally I got a letter saying you can do absolutely nothing about them.
Q: When you got on them, how'd you do that? I can remember...
A: Well even suspend them if they come with long hair and wouldn't get it reasonable cut. Short dresses, that started to be a thing. Your schools your work place. Its not a side show or menagerie They come with this ridiculous colored hair and so forth. I said, "No" I've sent them home to change clothes. I sent them home to wash they dye out of their hair. You see suspension worked for awhile but then it got to be a lark. Of course, suspension a lot of it has to do with how the parents look at it. And this one group of parents had a nice swimming pool and everything and boys get suspended and they go down there and have snacks and swim and so forth.
Q: Have a party.
A: Yeah and parents came to me and told me. Said "boy I put a stop to that the next time they were suspended." They didn't have anything; no visitors, no nothing, nothing but their books and a table there and they were supposed to get their lessons. And another guy said, " Well I been wanting some help getting my cellar dug out." That was built the house and then dig the cellar out later. That's a hard job. And boy he put them to work. Well they didn't like that, see, but if they make a lark out of it; it's no punishment. And then the other thing that took the teeth out of it was when ministers and clergy; Catholic people even went to jail protesting, you know. They get in the protests and be carted off to jail. Well when they started doing that, well that took all ...
Q: You think the kids saw that and thought it was okay to do ... their thing was okay.
A: That's right. They saw that and then man if they do that. Who ever thought you'd see even a Catholic defy the Catholic church and they did and I mean that just shows you.
Q: Did, then, I guess, along the way with the kids changing you saw the parents and community gradually change a good bit?
A: Oh, yes.
Q: When you didn't feel they were quite behind the school like they used to be.
A: Well, I found this characteristic of all of them except one. That's a pretty big group but that the way it was. There behind you. They've come up to me their at the counter at school and every place. Boy your running a good school. Where behind you but the minute that their child's in trouble there your worst enemy. One man and he was an influential man in the community; as a matter of fact he was running for the Board of Education at the time, and his boy got in trouble and he came down there to school and I told him what I had been doing. My policy was that anybody brought whiskey to school they were suspended and, as a matter of fact I went even a step further and I'm going to recommend to the Board that you be expelled. I could suspend but I couldn't expel but or I'd go a step further and say, now look if he stays in here this is going on his permanent record or if I expel him or the Board expels him it's going on his record. If you withdraw him that's what will go on his record. And the people and I wouldn't have to go to the Board. It worked every time. The ... I don't know whether this be off you line or not but I really think it should be mentioned. Bringing whiskey to school. Now this happened four times and it was about the second or third time I began to take notice. A girl brought a bottle of whiskey to school and she lived over in an orchard. Migrant workers were over there and they brought her this bottle and she brought it to school. She wrote a note to her buddies to meet her at a certain place to drink it. Moving in and out of that classroom each time the period changed. And guess who found that note, a teacher.
Q: A Teacher?
A: Well, I didn't think to much of that. We suspended her and her family withdrew her from school. Another time one boy wanted to borrow money from another boy and he wouldn't lend him any. Well this boy usually had pocket money so he ... the first boy said, "I'll bring you a bottle." Well he agreed to that. So he brought a bottle to school and this was in February and they went down across the school yard. Down sort of over the hill but still where they could be seen from our circle driveway and we had a couple, oh a good many students walk that driveway at noon, and -these two girls came into the office and said so and so is down there; they got a bottle of whiskey" Well the girls saw the boys and told them. we're going to tell on you, and they tried to buy them off even. They wouldn't, nothing doing. You can't run a school without the help of good students. And boy they came up and told me. Well the grass was dead and it hadn't been high in that corner and it had fallen over and so they threw the bottle of whiskey down towards the fence. And it hit this grass and skidded over to the fence and didn't break. So when they told me; I went down there and found the bottle. Well, sir, I gave the boy where going to drink it ten days and the boy that brought it to school and suspension and expelled really cause his dad took him out but then his daddy came up to school and said, "You ruining his education." I said, "Oh, no I'm not." I said, "he's delaying his education." Now he came back next semester and sure enough he went to work with his dad ... was a floor sander. He went to work with his dad and came back the next year and was a model student. Was in the senior class play and everything was just hunky-dorry. He learned a lesson. Now that was the second time. The third time the Vo.Ag. boys got hold of a bottle of whiskey and brought it to school. Well coming in our back door we have about twenty feet, then we have two little steps and then a long hall. And as they hopped up those two steps that bottle of whiskey slipped out of their jacket and hit the floor and broke. Man the smell of whiskey all over the place you know. And I got them. And it began to dawn on me. Man I looked up... somebody up there's helping me to reveal these things time after time. Well another case these two boys, seniors, went down to Virginia and got whiskey, beer and stuff...Smithsburg basketball game at night. Brought it back up to school and parked beside the gym there and made their car available for eleven boys to drink, some of this and some of them were nine and ten years old .... Let see, could they, no they had to be a little older than that. I think maybe eleven years old. And one of them got roaring drunk. Now it just happened that at half time of the game I'd go the ticket office and gather up the cash box and taken it up to put them in the safe. As I rounded the corner to go to; this boy came bursting out of the restroom, slamming the door wide open and he was drunk. So I collared him right there and took him in the office. Well it just so happened at night due to our... the way the furnace acted, the office was always much hotter than the hall. And when I got him there in the office on a chair he began to get drunker by the minute. And I called his mother and she came over. And he was in a captains chair and he got limp and he just slide off the captains chair on the floor. And she straddled him and smacked his face back and forth like this. Well he didn't even feel it. He didn't even feel it. The he had to go to the restroom. So, well in the meantime outside the office door there was a great big gang. But a couple of them had to get him on their shoulders and drag him, now his toes just drug, over to the bathroom . And about that time his uncle got there and his uncle was a bus driver for the school system and we had a great big session on that. Eleven boys were involved and while we were getting information together why rumors were starting. All kinds of rumors were getting out that weren't true and I said, John, that was John Cole, my assistant, he did alot of the leg work on that investigation, I said we better have a meeting here and call these parents in and tell them just exactly what we found out. Well they came and I went up to an English room, put chairs into a circle. I didn't want an across the desk type of situation. Put a table out in the middle and carried a tape recorder in and put it on the table. I said, "All this is going to be recorded." And we started. I said, "Now John has accumulated alot of this information. Let him give his information in its entirety and we'll ask if there any questions you have." Well he hadn't anymore than got started til he got interrupted from this side and that side and the other side. And this one guy sitting next to me. I put my hand over on him. I said, "Let John present his facts." "Get your hands off of me." "You can't touch me." And all, he just ... One women hollered, "We're not bothered about the facts. All we want to do is get our sons out of it." Will I just told them. I said. "Well I am sorry but I see nothing is going to be accomplished here. This meeting is adjourned and you'll here from me later." So when we got everything just what we were going to do. One boy came in and said, "Mr. Waldeck I know your going to find out all about it. I am telling you right now I drank some of it." So I suspended him for seven days. The rest for ten days and the two boys who brought the whiskey; sent a letter to the board to have them expelled.
Q: The Board expelled them, then?
A: Oh no. I made one mistake then a little later on. Now this one guy that was sitting next to me. Now a year before he'd worked down at National Fruit or down in Winchester on something and we decided to put a float in the Apple Blossom and he got all the information. You know the size to be accepted and be eligible to be judged. And we just worked together as fine as silk. He had a habit of drinking too much. And he sued me for $110,000.
Q: Over the drinking with the boys?
A: Yeah, $10,000. for eleven boys. Well in the first place he didn't have permission from all the parents. Course, they came to me and said, "Mr. Waldeck whatever you decide to do is alright with us. We didn't have any part of that ... we didn't ..." But that's the way he put the suit in and the darn lawyer he got didn't have sense enough not to mention that in his summons to me, he mentioned the tape. Well that's exactly what we wanted to have introduced into court, you know. Cause sometimes there tricky about that but this was already introduced into court. And it came to Monday morning. We were to be in the court at 10:00 and John and I were getting our coats on to go and the phone rang. They said we want to make a deal. Put all the boys back in school and give them their points back. Now I also took off three points a day of that six weeks period. And the idea of that is, so when they come back they'll be so busy studying and catching up their work that they won't have time to get into mischief. Alot of superintendents can't see that, you see. So we, oh before that, the evening that we were going to tell the boys. And I wanted to tell them before the buses left. I'd called the superintendent to tell him what we'd done. What we we're going to do. He tried his best to keep me on the line until the bus bell rang so I wouldn't have time to tell them. So I had nothing to do but to hang up on him. I just had to hang up on him. And then I got this summons to court. As I say the morning we were to go in there we got this thing to want to make a deal. Well, I say I 1400 have suspended hundreds of kids over a six year period here. I'd have to give every one of them points back. I said, "Nothing doing.""Well, sit tight we'll have to get back to you." Well, then we had to wait to another phone call. And he came back and he said, "Put the two boys that you recommended to be expelled back in with the group. Give them the same punishment as the others and we'll drop all charges." Well there was two things. I should have said, "You'll have to take that up with Mr. Pat O'Brien, the President of the Board," The letter had already gone to the Board. But, of course, he would've accepted it. But if I had done it that way, you see, I had never reneged from if they had brought whiskey to school they were expelled. And this changed that. But there were two reasons. I didn't worry to much about the suit at first cause I thought I had $25,000 W.V.E.A: insurance. I had $300,000 insurance from the Secondary School Principal's Association. But the rude awakening was when I called the W.V.E.A: ; they said, "Well were sorry but this don't cover that. We don't have any coverage of punitive damages." See, if I had hit the boy I'd been covered. But by hurting his grade or hurting his reputation or embarrassing his family I wasn't covered. And I found out later of the Secondary School Activity, a very small amount of that. There was some scheduled for punitive but very small. Well you see that was where you big suits came. Man they go; jump up in millions in punitive damages. They don't always pay off that much but, and the other thing was, was I knew I didn't have the superintendent's backing. So I accepted that. Put them back in school and gave them their points back. Now you see as I said superintendents are wheeling and dealing politicians. I had the system working, taking these points off. Three points per day and it worked to this extent. A colored boy and a white boy were having trouble. The colored boy was a senior, a very conscientious boy, a football player. He came to me. He said, "Mr. Waldeck so and so is giving me trouble." He says, "Now I can handle him, but I can't afford the points." Cause for fighting I suspended them.
Q: How long did they go for fighting? How long did you put them out for fighting?
A: Oh, usually ten days.
Q: Ten for fighting?
A: Either one unless it was a situation were either one could have stopped it. Now if it's a case of a bully picking on another boy; then the one got all of it and the other got nothing. But most times either one could have stopped it and they don't. Cause you can't just have fighting in school. And, but you see when the boy thought more of losing the points. So, I got the two boys together, got the thing ironed out. Nobody had a bloody nose or lost some teeth or lost time in school. See it was working. But you got stick to your guns. You got to mean what you say. And there will be those who rebell. Mr. Whitehair told me, "Jump all over the little things. You'll never have many big ones." Now you'll always have a few cause a few high hardcore are going to want to draw the school down to the cutter. But if you jump all over the little things but then along came this. Well I'll mention this just to show you. After this thing was over the superintendent got together with some of his helpers and they wrote up a handbook and they said; "suspension will be no longer than five days. You can't take off any points. You have to give the student extra work and help so that is grade won't be hurt in any way." And then he says we don't want suspension to be a paid vacation." I said, "my God man you just made it a paid vacation in you sentences before this. I said, "Do you realize you put all the work on a teacher. Extra work, grading papers. Why the boys not being hurt at all. The teachers being hurt." So I tell you it gets disgusting. I mean when they can't realize what there doing.
Q: Is that the biggest, one of the biggest changes then you saw from the time you started, I guess, teaching then went to the principal; is the change in how people were discipline or accepted this discipline, I guess, maybe.?
A: Yes, discipline they wanted...your going to go over this.
A: You can mark out if I mention names. One of the worst places for me to have trouble was with some of the higher ups down at the Musselman plant. Cause they had been so good to Musselman, you know. But sure enough this one superintendent at the plant. Was up at school there before school started and leaned right over that counter there and appreciated how much we were running the school and making them toe the mark and so forth. Well the only real incident that we ever had racial was Martin Lurther King, when they announced the flag would fly at half mast. I was on my way up to school. Heard it on the radio. Well as soon as I got there the janitor was standing in the hall with the flag on his arm and didn't know what to do. And I said, "I just heard it on the radio that all flags were to fly at half mast. Its a government proclamation." So he put it at half mast. Well at noon the group of boys went out and put the flag up to the top. Well that was an insult to the colored kids. And immediately, we only had about thirteen or fifteen, but they were all in the office, you know, protesting. So we had the flag put back up to the top and this boy, was the superintendent's boys, was the ring leader in it. And I had to suspend him from school. And you know that rascal went before the Board of Education one night. They allowed him to get up and speak without even putting him on the program or on the agenda or anything. And he read a three page deposition against me and nobody there to answer him; nobody there to do anything. Well the superintendent called me the next day and said, "Want you to appear before the Board and answer these questions." And I said, "What questions?" "Well we don't have a copy." I said, "You mean to tell me you let a man come before the Board and read a three page deposition against a school and a principal and you don't even have a copy." I said, "I'll tell you what." I said, "My teachers know a whole lot more of what's going on in this community." One of the big things was that I was living here (Editor's Note-Shepherdstown) and running the school up there see. Nobody ever spent more time on the road than I did. Cause I attended everything. I said, "That you I'll ... my teachers know a whole lot more about what's going on up here than even I do. So you give me a copy of his deposition, give me as long to prepare an answer as he had to make it up and I'll be in with my teachers and we'll give you some answers. "Oh, my goodness, we don't want that. We don't want that." That's the last I ever heard of that. But that same fellow, now that particular year Musselman had won something else and there was some big Musselman people at the commencement and I met them afterwards and they, you know, bragged about the school and how nice it was and the conduct of the students and everythings. And they said' "Its not like this everywhere." And this superintendent said, "Well I tell you, you have this fellow right here to thank. He's responsible for this school being what it is." Now he's the same gun that read the deposition. I should have said, well you ... you know I should have thrown him in right before his own supervisors but I didn't
Q: With your teachers, I don't know how many teachers you had at the time. How did they ... how do you think they saw you as a principal?
A: Well, from what I heard they were like it and they were behind me.
Q: I know I've heard that too. They were very...as you've indicated, you know, very strict and did things the right way.
A: They knew I'd back them up right down the line. I don't know whether I could do the same thing now or not. We had teachers of the old school and we screened the ones coming in pretty closely and I think all of them could see my point of view, even though a couple of the teachers gave me a hard time with these short dresses.
Q: Did you have to tell them about that sometime?
A: Oh, yes I did. I sent one home to change clothes one day and ...
Q: One of the teachers?
A: Yeah. one of the teachers and I told the ... couple of the others. You know this one little teacher, she was a short girl, math teacher, and she wore clothes so short that when she reached up to write on the board you could see her pants. Well that's utterly ridiculous. You can't have that. And I tell you it was a nightmare but yet everything that came out was ... Its really they came to the point in the paper. They said, "Short dresses are part of the reason for the increase in rape and things like that you know." I mean and yet their parents. We rode herd on them in school and even our cheerleaders. Well we had a real strict cheerleader sponsor. And she gave it up and I had to appoint a couple of teachers from there in school who would take it but they weren't to anxious for it. The kids right away saw a loophole to start something and we had a bonfire that night and this one girl. All the other girls ... they were probably dressed the same as she was but they kept their jackets on. But this one girl didn't. She took her jacket off and she had the bare midriff. She looked like A: .. you know. I can't think just what I want to call her. Anyhow bare belly out and all this and we just don't do that. And the Monday morning, the day after, I guess this was on Friday night. I called her mother and asked her, "Did you see what you daughter had on the other night?" She said, "No" And I her. She says, "I don't want that. I don't like that either." But by the time her mother got up to school to talk to me the got a hold of her. Got a hold of her mother. She got her mother completely reversed. And, finally I was giving her quite a time and she said, "You know she got it off this rack on the table. They oughtta not be allowed to sell them." Now you see one mother can't say no to one girl. One man told me I ought to let kids bring cars to school. Cause he got his boy a car and he couldn't say not to him. So I was supposed to say no to everybody in school that they couldn't bring a car cause one man couldn't say no to one son.
Q: Did you, you probably did I guess, have any teachers you had to, you know, let go or fire? How did that work? Did you have anybody who just didn't work out for you or did they all shape up eventually?
A: Most of them shaped up all right I'd say. One man and wife I had trouble with. The walked out of a principal's meeting, you know, a teacher's meeting and I told them, you walk out of here your...
Q: Gone ?
A: Gone, but it didn't work out that way. I didn't ... I called the superintendent, elementary superintendent. I didn't have to let them go back in the classroom but I couldn't let them go. Now, and they wouldn't hire me any substitutes. So if I didn't let them go in the classroom here I had classes unsupervised which I couldn't tolerate. For I would be liable if anything happened and so I more or less had to take them and put them in the classroom. But I didn't plan to.
Q: What did they walk out over? Do you remember?
A: Oh, yes we had had a junior class play or a senior class play. We sort of switched back and forth. But anyhow we had one all the time. And they wanted to discontinue it. Now when I hired this young lady why she was in drama and everything. Oh, that's what she wanted and everything. But then she wanted to drop it. And I said, "Well were not going to drop it." And, "We've had one all the time and I don't see any reason why we shouldn't." Well I learned later there was some marital trouble there. She and her husband were having it. I don't know just what the problem was.
Q: Did they stay with you another year or did they go ahead and leave?
A: Oh, no they left that summer. But I tell you what that rascal did. She was head of the yearbook and at several teacher's meeting that spring I asked her how it was coming along. Was everything up to schedule on getting the material in. Yes, everything. She hadn't been sending it in. Finally the guy called me. He said, "We haven't received anything from such and such." And she just forbid it. She hadn't been sending it in. Well I said, "You...if you expect to finish this year out even, you get it in immediately." I ... nobody else could have scraped it up. But I got the representative of the yearbook company on and I said, "Now everything you receive for her, you mail it right straight to me. And don't process a thing until I send it back to you." And I screened everything she sent from there until the end of the year. Cause I wasn't going to let her pull some kind of dirty dig that way.
Q: How did you, back then... I know that we do it, like Frederick County, when we evaluate teachers we have this real long formal complicated, sort of complicated. How did you all at Musselman evaluate your teachers? You know to see if they would come back. Observe them or whatever?
A: Well, I didn't have that one I think until the last two years. This was all over. I didn't have any hot spots the last two years except one. And I let my assistant principal, Gary Greenfield, handle some of it. Gary was terrific. He could do things so quickly cause he was a good typist on his own part and everything. He really could but their times when you talk to people about releasing them. And this was over one of my industrial arts teachers. Good teacher but I had told ... I told every man teacher that comes in that I will not have teachers going with students And he was going with this ... well it started out I think she was only a sophomore. And it wasn't a hidden thing at all. As a matter of fact her grandparents and all thought the world of him. But he knew how I felt and the whole thing was a more or less to set up to go off smoothly and when Gary filled out this paper he put more in it than he had to and that's what upset the fellA: I mean I had it all going pretty smooth and he put these things in that would be very had to prove. If he'd had just left it cut and dried like I had it, it would have gone off alright. But it did anyhow, the fellow went ahead and, as a matter of fact, he went to work for Stanton Furniture Company in Hagerstown. Much better job at alot more money.
Q: Did you have to go in and evaluate teachers like we do now? You know a couple of time a year go in and see each teacher? And see how they did or did you just know how everybody was doing?
A: Yes. you had to go in and visit them. Document it. Sit so long and do it a number of times and especially any teacher you're thinking of getting rid of. And it got so that you had to do that for a beginning teacher just the same as a three year teacher. Tenure didn't amount to a hill of beans. That's kind of hard to do. And I know fellows that had it backfire on 'em. Because they tried to be lenient on the first evaluation. Whereas in their own mind they knew they weren't doing but they didn't want to discourage him, you know, or defeat them completely. Just like I know I'm going so no use to do much the rest of this year. That type of thing. And it backfired on him. He had given them fairly good recommendations the first couple of times and by golly the teacher won and ... I think she was out part of a year and she got back pay and everything.
Q: They probably think its like with the kids. You need to jump on it quick and ease up as you go.
A: You need to jump on it and be tough and ... but I really had one backfire on me. And this really happened over two superintendents. Disponet died and this Smith came in and took his place. They put that ... when they had some changes there at the office. I guess it was when Disponet came in they took Dr. Mudge out...just about relieved him of all of his powers and he was a real gentleman. The best I ever worked with in getting teachers because he believed in North Central and principals are supposed to have a big stake in this getting principals...I mean getting teachers and if I had a vacancy coming up he'd pull out the files. Everybody that was acceptable in that field and bring them up to me and said, "pick the ones you want. Call them in for interview and recommend them to me and I'll get them appointed." Well you can't be any better than that. And, but they took that away from him and gave it to Whiting. Well the scuttlebutt around the office was if you want anything killed give it to Whiting to do and he'll let her die. Well that particular summer, I was a fool for doing it but I had to go in for a hernia operation and I waited until my time off and went in on my own. And I should have gone in on school time like all the others did cause I wasn't paid during the summer, you see ... anyhow ... but I should have done it the other way but I didn't cause I didn't want to owe them a thing. And he came up to my room and, you see, I had a six year program so that was something they could never understand. That it took more teachers and more coaches when your operating a six year school than it does when you operating a four or three-three or whatever , see. And they never understood that. And I had two industrial arts teachers cause I required it in the seventh and eighth grade and Home Ec. for girls, you see. And then later we made them both coed, you know. And he said, "I got you another Vo-Ag... Industrial Arts teacher." Cause one of mine was leaving. And I said, "Well that's fine." Well I never heard another word now until I got back up to school with two things ... two weeks to get things going and I got alot of stuff straighten out needed to be straighten out so they could continue their typing and all. And then I started looking at the teacher'sroster. And lord I had three or four vacancies. And I called in there and I said, Well, one of them was industrial arts. "What happened to the industrial arts..." "We took him to Martinsburg." That's 2000 what I mean, I mean Martinsburg got to go regardless of what you all do. Well at that stage of the game, two weeks before, less than two weeks before school started and you couldn't get an industrial arts teacher. Well one of my teachers came to me and he said, "I know your in trouble." He said, "I've had a good bit of shop work in welding and that type of thing." he said, "if you want me to I'll take that for a year." But I said, "Well that would be ideal." I know, I haven't looked but I know I can get a social studies teacher alot easier than I can get an industrial arts teacher. And so we made the change and I ... the new man we got in social studies when he came in he ... I don't think I'd have picked him if I hadn't bee bent over a barrel and had to. Schools already started I was teaching ... starting with three substitutes. And we took him but I told him...I told him, "now this can only be one year." I said. North Central won't approve us having a teacher over their in shop having no credits in shop whatsoever and so we might get by one year but not any longer than that so for that simple reason I didn't build a case against him. The case would have been a lack of classroom management. Couldn't control kids and that type of thing. And he also had some coaching duties. And that's the first year I ever had ... I think the middle school down there in Winchester was one of them...a principal to call me about the conduct of my kids at a ball game. Like when the first team played the junior varsity or it wasn't that level, the seventh and eighth grade team. But they had two teams. When the first one played and was over the coach just sat there on the bench and let the kids run through the school. Well they ransacked everything. Vending machines and teacher's desks. It was just terrible. And things didn't get much better. But I didn't build a case because I figured I don't have to. You can't keep him. Well in the meantime they wanted a change in Plartinsburg in coach. So the superintendent was impressed with the way Bob Kemenski, my coach, had handled a basketball game to make money with the Washington Redskins team. Well, golly we'd been doing that. It wasn't any big chore for anybody in athletics to organize a game. Well, you know... but he was impressed with that so he wanted him for Martinsburg. Well, and when he said something to me I said, "well coaching wise I am all set." And, but I've got Denny Price and Riggleman here, two top-notch coaches and so I'm not hurting. But what I didn't know this boy in the spring of the year when he knew what I told him that I wouldn't have a job, he went in to see the superintendent and told him how much he liked it and how much he liked coaching. He wanted to stay in this area and the superintendent without saying anything to anybody said, "I'll give you the next social studies job that's open in the county." Then he takes my coach into Martinsburg and his half a day was social studies and he gives the social studies to that boy. Now boy that ... and Musselman hurt for years. They moved that boy all around to coach in this and that and the other. Finally they got him down to baseball. Cause he couldn't handle the kids and couldn't handle boys. Boy I was fit to be tied. And I hadn't as I say because I didn't think I had to. I never visualized anything like that happening.
Q: If you were going to describe what it took to be a principal after you've already done it ... tell somebody else like now, what would you tell them;' they characteristics they would need?
A: Well I tell you one thing. At one time there was a good bit of criticism about so many coaches going to be principals but at one time in Berkeley County and I think in Jefferson County every principal had an athletic background.
Q: I'm one of them.
A: And your one of them.
A: Well the one reason. Your used to scheduling. Your use to handling boys. You can identify a gold bricker a mile off. Your used to discipline. You have training in all essential areas to be principal. And then to be a principal as I always told the student teachers as they came to Musselman. There are things about keeping discipline. Don't say anymore than you have to say. But mean what you say. And they'll come to toe. Students, well they'll do anything you let them do. They'll also do anything you require them to do. And you know work for the students School is no place for a lazy teacher or a lazy principal or... it takes a lot of energy but you got to you got to ... I always thought our students have so much talent. It is 2200 up to us to give them a chance to display it and show it. We we had some of the best talent programs in school. Some that you wouldn't even dream about. This one boy, in particular, had a pretty tenor voice and he wasn't a stand out or anything until after he sung. And I know when they announced that he was going to sing the kids sort of booed and so on. But when he-struck the first note. Sang "Downtown" and I mean that you could have heard a pin drop. And there was a roar when he finished. Well, he was somebody from then on. And we had great big programs American Education Week. I invited the whole community in. And we'd set it up like a three ring circus. Everything was repeated three times. Run on a half hour schedule so they could see this show and that show and the other show and then end up in the gym with a grand finale. You know we'd use different things different years. Use the business department one time, we used the industrial arts. We set up an assembly line and kids made lamps. They started down here with just the parts and ended up down here with a finished lamp. Yeah, a finished lamp. Plugged it in and turned it on, you know. At the same time something else was right ready to go. And we had our own little charm besides the big one we always had. We'd have one there in the gym with just things kids would model they had made in home. ec. Even had boys in home ec. But the whole thing is give them a chance to show. Give them a chance to end be on stage.
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