Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The good that men do long lives after them.

I graduated from Escondido High in 1967 during the height of the Viet Nam conflict. I had lived by myself while working my way through four years of high school. I worked as the night manager for a mobile home park and apartment complex for my board. Often I was up until midnight. At four in the morning I would go down the street and clean a laundromat for a small paycheck that met my needs for clothes and food. I was very skinny, nevertheless, as I avoided breakfast to save money.

It is virtually impossible to live on your own now, with a watchful Child Protective Services ready to step in and place homeless children in a foster home.

Work for money had a priority over school work for me, and I was not that great of a student. In fact, I don't think I ever turned in a homework assignment all four years that I was at EHS. I was disinterested in academic excellence. My only goal in life during those four years was to graduate from high school and go into the Navy to see the world. There were no dreams of college, just survival.

When it came time to graduate, I would have a minimum number of units. That was if I passed all of my classes. There was a problem with that, because I had failed Third Quarter English, and had bombed my English final which was supposed to be a major portion of the Fourth Quarter grade. The night before the English final I had just laid down to get four hours sleep when a young woman came running to the office. She had been knifed by her boyfriend and was bleeding liberally. I called the police and tried my best to pressure the bleeding spots, afraid that her boyfriend might show up to finish what he had started. The police came and I had to stay up until three answering their questions. I don't think I slept that night, but fell asleep during the English final.

My teacher was a Mr. Georges, a sawed off, hard nosed Marine and Guadalcanal Veteran who, years earlier, had been the wrestling coach at the high school. They won championships under his guidance. He knew me a little bit better than the average student as he had given me a ride "home" several times after wrestling practice. His son was on the wrestling team and might remember the many car rides that his father gave me. I believe that Mr. Georges knew that I was living by myself, but never said a word. A good Marine knows when not to ask questions.

Back then we had to carry our report cards from class to class to have the teachers mark them. We would turn them in at the beginning of class and the teacher would enter the grade and return them to us as we left the room to go to the next class.

Well, I turned in my report card to Mr. Georges who was sitting at his desk. He looked up and saw me and a serious and somber look was clearly visible in his face. I mentioned to him that I was graduating on a bare minimum number of credits. I had already signed up for active duty in the Navy and needed the credits from his class in order to to graduate. No graduation, meant no Navy and no boot-camp in a few weeks. He took the report card and didn't say a word. I was justifiably nervous and scared.

At the end of class those report cards were returned to us and we left the room to progress down the halls to our next grade posting. As I walked out of the classroom I slowly looked at my card, uncovering it with my hand gradually so as not to be overwhelmed by the F (Failing Grade) that I knew was there. I held my breath as I read from left to right.

There it was in brutal honesty!

"F" for Third Quarter.

"F" for Fourth Quarter.

Mr. Georges was fair. Those were the grades that I had earned. But there for the Semester Grade (and five units towards graduation) was a "D minus for Semester Average.

I graduated!

Only an ex-Marine could average an F and another F into a D minus when there was substantial need. Besides, he was not a math teacher.

Mr. Georges was very strict. He was demanding, but he also had a heart of gold. I speak about him often. He made a very strong impression in my life. Sadly, he passed away a quarter of a century ago, but he will always live in my heart. In that regard, people continue to live as long as the good deeds that they did in life are remembered and passed on.


No comments:

About Me

My photo
Born Chicago. Lived: Palos Heights Chicago, Illinois; American Samoa; Mexico; Escondido and San Diego, California; and then I finally graduated from High School. Subsequently, 12 years in the Navy took me all over the world.