Back before the solar system was formed and the loin cloth invented, I was a Mighty Indian. Hart was the SCV’s only high school then and keeping Law & Order on campus dwelt a noble species I fear faces extinction.
People used to call them, “Men.”
Men came in all sizes, shapes, colors and temperaments, but I have a fond memory of one beat-up old GM car that cruised the SCV. It transported, depending on what lunch was that day, approximately 17 tons of male teachers.
I would hide my giggles when I saw this off-white 1960-something car the size of an aircraft carrier solemnly pull into a parking lot. Giant metal doors would creak open. With some effort, out would climb six Hart teachers.
Total weight: approximately 34,000 pounds.
Which, if my math is still holding up from 10th grade, works out to 5,66.67 pounds per teacher.
A 127-pound wiseacre kid, I wouldn’t even dream of disrespecting anything that weighed that much. And scowled.
Out would climb Hart coaches Holden, Collins, Coleman, Moore, Wendt, Williams and sometimes DeBernardi. Frank DeBernardi wasn’t a teacher, but he was the local sheriff’s deputy who coached weight lifting. Frank wasn’t just a cop. He was some Italian god of Ferocity who to this day still holds the world’s record for most people squished, beaten, pulverized or shot by a lawman. When the last coach stepped out, that big V-8 cruiser groaned a sigh of relief and slowly creaked 6 yards closer to the sun. There were other men at Hart, not in the 6X sweatshirt club — Weatherill, Reisbig, Kuster, Wrage, Koentopp — to name a few.
Then there was Dr. Al Adelini, Dean of Boys, who not only could fold you 64 times and wring all bodily fluids from your worthless hide but knew exactly what you were up to five weeks before you committed the crime and offered the most compelling reasons, delivered with a disarming smile, as to why it would be in your best interest to stay on the straight and narrow, eat your vegetables, say “Please” and “Thank you,” mind your P’s and Q’s and, above all else, Minimize… The Hot Rod… Attitude.
Beyond gifted teacher, too, and guided me toward that lofty goal of being a Man.
There were some frighteningly tough students at Hart in the 1960s. Some of them looked like 35-year-olds on death row. Some were from bad homes and roared onto campus with 50 miles of burning highway behind. Some acted out. Some were sassy to other children or authority.
But not for long.
Because a whistle down any hall, there always lurked some 500-pound coach, ex-boxer or Man who used to kill people for the Army.
Usually, our Army.
That was back when American culture had a food chain. It was a simple one. Grown-ups on top. Children on the bottom. Men weren’t on the top to squish kids. Kids by nature are here to, often irritatingly, search where boundaries are hidden. Men, sometimes with a 24-inch bicep, sometimes with a smile, were there to show them where those lines are.
I suspect we suffer today because of a lack of that kind of clarity.
Recently, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a Democratic Party-backed measure into law: Senate Bill 328. Essentially, it says that you can’t suspend students for disrespect, disobeying a teacher or disruptive behavior. The law right now covers kids K-5 and will up the bracket to 8th grade in a couple years. It was sponsored by state Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley.
Yet more madness from Sacramento.
California teachers complain how powerless a classroom can be. Even one disruptive child can affect the learning of an entire classroom. While sometimes not world-beaters on the report card, kids can operate at genius level when it comes to chaos and power-grabbing.
SB 328 is now law. It rewards bad behavior. It is a recipe for dystopia.
I literally chuckled at the big picture. Teachers are often liberal. Certainly their unions are. And yet, teachers back a Democratic Party that actively undermines basic common sense and makes their lives, their jobs, once again, just a little harder.
When I was in junior high at Placerita, I had a guidance counselor who later became a friend. Jim Tanner became principal and we used to work the SCV Boys & Girls Club Auction every year. In between silent bid board closings, we took a break. I went to buy a beer. I’m walking back to my station when I spot Tanner 30 yards away, walking toward me. Instinctively and ever so nonchalantly, I moved the cold beer bottle behind my back so Tanner won’t see it.
I’m in my darn 40s and I’m hiding a beer from my ex-counselor.
I told Tanner my regression. We laughed, and, of course, he solemnly said he’d have to confiscate my beer.
Hiding that perfectly legal and well-deserved Coors was me just fondly remembering a way of life we’ve not just replaced, but traded away for insanity and the cultural self-destruction of Political Correctness. Nefarious unintended consequences have been birthed by making war on men.
Tanner, Adelini and other strong males taught me to be a strong man, to not be ashamed of it. They taught me that the purpose of strength is to protect others, and, that with true strength comes kindness.
Strong hands are for building, crafting and protecting civilization — not for sitting on. Strong hands should also be for carting young unbelievers by the collar, kicking and screaming to the principal’s office.
John Boston is a local writer and a Mighty Indian from Hart’s Class of 1968, which is, inarguably, the best ever…