Thursday, November 05, 2009

A Little Rebellion Now and Then

In my youth, adults exercised firm control over kids. Well, they did until we reached high school age. Teenagers rebelled against authority figures, openly or covertly, then as now.

In my small high school, rebellion could fall into the prank category. Enterprising chemistry students concocted a sulfur cocktail and found a way to get it into the ventilation system. The rotten egg odor cause the building to be evacuated, and it stayed shut down for most of a day. One young man showed up with a really ugly "Mohawk" haircut. He was told to go home and clean up his act. He reappeared the next day with a somewhat neater Mohawk, dyed green.

Sometimes things got violent. When I was a freshman, a particularly belligerent sophomore clashed with teachers several times. Just before the youth was expelled, a teacher who doubled as an assistant football coach threw the kid down the long flight of stairs at the school's main entrance.

At Sandy's high school in West Bend, Wisconsin, a much bigger place, she participated in a novel challenge to authority. Sandy was on the debating team. A fellow debater showed up at a football game slightly inebriated. The principal expelled him.

Sandy and the other debaters thought the penalty was too harsh for the crime. In fact, since the boy was 18, he was a legal beer drinker and the students didn't think any penalty should have been imposed. The debate team members removed the knobs from every drinking fountain in the high school. They let it be known that access to "bubbler" water would be restored when their friend was reinstated.

The principal retaliated by announcing he was going to find out exactly who stole the fountain hardware, and he then would expel anyone involved. The debaters decided they were not in a power position. Overnight, they put the bubbler knobs back on. Ultimately, though, their viewpoint prevailed. A few days later the principal reinstated the wayward debater.

1 comment:

Alan G said...

My, my how times have changed….

I am hard pressed to remember any type of problems or incidents during my school years. I seem to recall one incident similar to yours involving what was called “skunk oil” that got spilled in a hallway one day. Also maybe a couple of guys being expelled briefly for smoking in the “Boy’s Room”, but that is it.

No wonder we sit with our mouths hanging wide open when we here of what goes on in the schools these days. In my day it was just a given that if you got in trouble at school you were going to be badly wounded before you ever left school and then when you got home your parents would finish you off!