Xenia Tales: School after the tornado Part II

05 Jan

After the devastating 1974 Xenia tornado only one secondary building, Warner Jr. Hi, was still standing. We finished the school year by going to neighboring school districts in the evening. In the fall of 1974 we began sharing the building. When I say we, I mean Xenia High School, which was held in the morning until about noon, and the two Junior Hi schools, Warner and Center, which now became Xenia Jr. Hi, in the afternoon. I was teaching at Warner so my schedule was in the afternoon.

Teaching classes that started after lunch made for a rather odd experience. In some ways it was great, I could be mom  to infant Chris until his nap time for example and take him on excursions to the park or store or just for a walk. I could get laundry and housework done and then go teach from 12:30-6:00

That system lasted about a month and then the teaching staff realized that we had some new free time in the morning and we got more organized. We began to have group activities. Sometimes we played cards, sometimes we met for brunch, but mainly we participated in a morning bowling league.

I was not ( and am not) much of a bowler, but I joined a group of women, my fellow teachers, who decided we wanted to be an all-female team. Some of the teams were all male, some others were co-ed but we were the only all female team. We took lots of ridicule from the men when we were forming the team and there were dire predictions of ignominious defeat for our future.

The men who made fun of our all female team did not realize we had a ringer. Fredericka D. was just a smidge below a professional bowler. She was simply fabulously skilled at bowling. She was also a very good looking young woman who was frequently hit on by men and boys. Happily married she also had an acid tongue and could cut the provider of the unwanted attention into shreds verbally. I liked Freddie, as we called her, quite a bit.

Because she lived, and bowled, in Springfield, Ohio, some 18 miles away, the Xenia men had no idea what her skill level was. I think they thought she was just a pretty face ( and shapely body) and could be discounted as any kind of threat.

They were wrong.

Freddie tore up the league and took the rest of us on the team along for the ride. I think I have a trophy tucked back in one of the closets from that bowling league, my only personal trophy for an athletic endeavor of any kind, thanks to Freddie.

While we were out having fun in the morning unfortunately some of ours students were doing the same. All of a sudden disciplinary issues on the buses and in classes began to spike. Kids who had never been a problem turned into real challenges. An investigation was launched and we found out that some of our teenage students, reveling in the empty houses all morning, their parents having gone to work, had decided to have some pretty well oiled parties. They were raiding liquor cabinets and bringing in the booze to these gatherings at an alarming rate.

They would then get on the bus and then come to class three sheets to the wind. I will never forget a parent conference with the mother of “George.” George was a short, pudgy white boy with a kind of afro hair style. His hair was very similar to that sported by cartoon character of the time–the Hair Bears.George was about as un-cool an individual–short, slew footed, badly dressed, pasty faced–as one could be, not a good situation for a teenage boy.

George found his niche, however, by being able to host parties whenever he wanted to. His mom was a single parent and had to work, so she left George alone in the house before school. He found out that after being a social pariah for most of his school years he could catapult himself to the A-Team or the P-Team ( for popular) in no time if he would arrange for a few beers and a little wine and the privacy and lack of supervision to enjoy it.

Kids were flocking to George’s house to enjoy his wonderful hospitality and George was strutting around school as cock-of-the-walk for once. Some of the girls were even giving him a second look from time to time. He was getting to be a BMOC.

Sadly for George, our assistant principal, Jim S. was a skilled interrogator and found out rather quickly that Georgie boy was running the Playboy Mansion Xenia style before school. He called in George and George’s mom and several of his teachers who could testify to some of the fallout from the party house.

Part of the problem quickly became clear when I met George’s mother. She was the most unassuming, quiet, mousy woman in the world. I am confident it would never have occurred to her in her wildest dreams that her son would be running a teenage version of a nightclub during the daytime out of her house. We tried to lead her gently into a conversation about the need for additional supervision for George, who had already indicated in previous discussions that he was a)enjoying his new found popularity, b)had no intention of pulling the plug on the good times and c) that basically, like Vegas,  as far as he was concerned whatever happened at George’s house, stayed at George’s house and was none of our business.

Knowing teenagers well I could not believe that there would not be a lot of detritus left after the bashes and wondered what Momma George must think, probably at best finding bottles and the remnants of snacks. She could count herself lucky if that was all she found, but I was pretty comfortable in my conviction that there would be evidence that a party had been going on at her house in her absence.

Trying to lead her that way, to help her understand what was going on I asked her if she looked in George’s room often, presuming he might be hiding the evidence in there. She looked at me with an earnest face and said, ” I cannot go in George’s room. He has a ” No Trespassing” sign on his bedroom door. I am not allowed to go in there.”

At this point I was not sure whether I wanted to smack Momma George, get up and walk out of the room, or take her in my arms and croon “You poor thing!” George was not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he was obviously a bit quicker than his ma. He had her firmly convinced that going in his room when he had that sign on the door meant he could call the law on her if she went in without permission.

We tried to convince her that since it was HER house and George was not on the deed, and was still a minor, that she had the right, no, the duty, to go into George’s room early and often. I am not sure we ever got through to her, but the school took the bull by the horns and asked the police to swing by George’s from time to time in the mornings to check things out. George’s house soon became subject to too much scrutiny by authority figures and poor George went back to being pretty roundly ignored. As a matter of fact he was less popular than before, having been judged as complicit in getting the party house shut down after getting them used to the glory days.

I often wonder what happened to George. I have a sneaking suspicion he has spent the past thirty years or so trying to recapture his mojo.


Posted by on January 5, 2011 in Uncategorized


2 responses to “Xenia Tales: School after the tornado Part II

  1. Megan Germano

    January 6, 2011 at 1:26 am

    Sometimes I wish blogs had that little Thumbs Up symbol like Facebook. I don’t really have anything to say, except I enjoyed this story! I love the Warner/West stories… but I am partial. 😉

  2. S. E. Ward

    January 21, 2011 at 1:05 am

    This is so interesting. As a 8th grader at Central when the tornado hit, i was familiar with the opportunities the adjusted schedule brought us kids. Never thought of the teachers having a life! My dad was working 3rd shift when we started the split schedule my 9th grade year. He would cook us a huge “dinner”, what most call lunch. Spare ribs, pork roast, meatloaf and boiled potatos, fried chicken etc. After stuffing ourselves he would drive us to school and it’s a wonder we didn’t fall asleep. For some reason that I cannot remember, later in the year we had to start riding the bus. I got into an altercation with a neighborhood girl and she started whaling on me as soon as we got off of the bus. I think I got one or two licks in selfdefense in there, of course the bus driver called it in and we were suspended. Dad went to school to go to bat for me as these kids had picked on me on and off since elementary school. the vice principal said that we should try to be understanding of the other girl since she was related to a tornado victim but gave me 3 days to her 5 since she started it. Next year was 10th grade for me. I found out much later that my dad took a lower paying job at work to get on first shift so he could take me to school in the morning and pick me up on his lunch hour( my mom worked in Y.S. and had to leave at 6am) to keep me out of trouble on the bus. My brother who was still in Junior High and didn’t seem to have any trouble on the bus went the later shift via the bus. Thanks for the memories.


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