Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Knot On The Head And A Nickel Ahead ...

Mr. Carl Dillon served in the U. S. Navy as a pilot during WW2. Following the end of the war in 1945, he was discharged as a full lieutenant. He began teaching algebra at South Park High School in 1950. I was a sophomore that year and was assigned to Mr. Dillon’s algebra class. This was the beginning of a fascinating relationship.

Mr. Dillon had a discipline method that I called the, “Yardstick on the Head.” If you were mis-behaving, he would ease over with his yardstick and whack you on top of your head. Not with the flat side but rather with the edge. Now that smarted. I received several goose eggs on top of my skull that year. So did Glendon, Billy, and several others of us “active” teenagers. He never struck a girl with the stick. Of course the girls never cutup anyway.

One day in algebra class, Mr. Dillon was explaining how that “X = the unknown.” I always wondered why we spent so much time trying to find the “unknown” and why did “X” almost always have to be the “unknown?” Why couldn’t we just deal with the, “known?”

Anyway, my desk was on the side of the room next to the windows. Since we were on the first floor it was easy to look out of the window. And that is what I did. I looked out and there was a girls’ P. E. Class. They were on the front campus playing softball. Now you’ve got to understand that I was 15 years old and girls were very interesting creatures to me. The girls’ uniforms for P. E. consisted of white T-Shirts and green short-shorts.

There must have been thirty girls out there in green short-shorts. Now a guy does not often have such an opportunity as this. There were thirty girls. Do the math. That comes up to sixty legs in green short-shorts. Now let us reason together. Would you rather watch 30 beautiful girls in short-shorts play softball or listen to Mr. Dillon explain about the “unknowns?”

I was busy taking inventory of all the scenery when all of a sudden, “WHACK!!” Ouch, I was brought back to reality in short order. Mr. Dillon had interrupted his “unknown” discourse, walked over to my desk with his yardstick and “ker-whacked” me on the noggin. That one really hurt so I grabbed my one-foot Coca-Cola ruler and glared at him. He glared back at me and I showed him what was printed on my ruler, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” You know what? Mr. Dillon wrote me a Detention Hall slip and I had to stay in detention after school that day.

A few days later at noon, Mr. Dillon stopped by the ice-cream box in the school cafeteria to purchase an ice-cream bar from me. I worked in the cafeteria during lunch time. Ice-cream cost five cents. Mr. Dillon gave me a quarter. I picked up four nickels, showed him then placed them in his hand. But I only gave him three nickels. I palmed the fourth nickel. Mr. Dillon put the change in his pocket and walked away. I felt pretty smug. I had just shortchanged the algebra teacher.

After school, I went to him and tried to return his nickel. He said, “There’s no way you could have shortchanged me.” I said, “If I did shortchange you, may I keep the nickel?” He scoffed and said, “Sure.”

I respected Mr. Dillon for his military service and his algebra teaching was OK even though I didn’t agree with his “Yardstick Routine.” But after all was said and done, I am still ahead one nickel.

Winston Hamby


Post a Comment

<< Home