Educational Articles

Teacher Stories from the novel, The Junior High

by Dr. Pelham K. Mead III (c)2012 Xlibris publishers

A lot of my past students and colleagues find it difficult to believe the stories in the novel, The Junior High. Well they are all true and that is why I had to change the names of the teachers, administrators and students and even the name of the school from Kakiat JHS to Cucamonga JHS.

Kakiat JHS opened in 1960 after a flood of people moved out of New York City following the long drawn out Teacher Strikes in New York City in the late 1950’s. In 1956 the Tappan Zee bridge connecting Westchester, NY to Rockland, NY opened the door for people to move to the country. Spring Valley as a town was booming in those days and a third Junior high and second high school had to be built to get off of half-time sessions.

When September 1960 came about the building was not ready. The seats in the auditorium had not come yet and five classrooms on the second floor were not finished.

Despite this, the Superintendent paid off the building inspector from Rockland to allow the building to open and take in 600 students. The situation was so bad that teacher had to try and teach while hammers and electric saws were screeching the the background. It was an impossible situation that lasted for four months until the classrooms were finished and the chairs installed in the auditorium. It is amazing none of the student were hurt from the piles of construction surrounding the school.

The East Ramapo Central School district had a Personnel Director who started off as the Superintendent’s personal secretary. She had an affair with Supt. Colton in the 1960’s and he reward her with the Personal Directors position. When Colton retired she started a romance with the new Superintendent too. She was there for over 30 years sleeping her way to the top without a college education.

The East Ramapo Central School district had a major problem in addition to it’s 9,000 public school students, the district was also responsible for 10,000 Yeshiva (private Jewish schools) and 1,000 Catholic school students. The State of New York ignored the private school numbers when giving East Ramapo financial support for public school students. Private school students were not counted for State funding.

Kakiat JHS grew from 600 in 1960 to 900 in 1967 ns 1500 in 1975. The halls were so crowded in 1975 that students were bumping into one another. Physical Education classes had 80 to 100 students at one time. In 1972 the Federal Title 9 law provided girls equal sports education and PE. This meant a major change in the school district curriculum. Nerf balls of foam were used instead of leather footballs and soccer balls . Field Hockey and wrestling were dropped because they could not be taught coed.

In the early 1960’s until 1972 the boys in PE classes were given a bar of soap and a clean towel to shower and get clean. It was required at the time. After 1972, Civil rights became an issue and students sued over having to wear a gym uniform and won. Shorts and a t-shirt were acceptable instead and showers were no longer required. Gym locks used to be loaned out for the year. They too were discontinued and the students had to buy their own locks. Male Physical Education teachers could now teach coed classes of boys and girls and likewise, female Physical Education could not teach coed classes of boys and girls. In the long run Female teachers lost jobs because they lost their seniority in many schools. The federal title 9 law had positive and negative effects.

The Physical Education curriculum in 1967 consisted of all major sports, Football, Basketball. Wrestling, Volleyball, Weight-lifting, and Track and field, and Softball. Gymnastics was an obstacle course. French foil fencing rusted in the closets because none of the PE teachers knew how to teach it. Lacrosse did not exist, nor did Outdoor sand volleyball or hardball or archery. Archer was taught for a short while when the teachers were brave enough to try. Golf wasn’t taught until the 1980’s. Basically, the Physical Education curriculum was back in the dark ages.

Technology did not exist in the 1960’s, 1970’s or until the late 1980’s with APPLE.

In the 1960’s fake bomb scared and student walkouts wasting hundreds of hours of teaching time. Teacher strikes were threatened every four years when the contracts expired. Many times the Board of Education almost forced a strike but back of at the last minute. The District even stole away the Teacher Chief Negotiator to use his skills agains the Teacher Union. Principals had to negotiate on their own.

Teaching and schooling was all about money and politics. Money was wasted on many stupid projects which were eventually cancelled. The District TV station downstairs from Kakiat was closed. The Multi-media center for the district was eventually closed. Librarians were asked to become Multi-media people and load out movie cameras. It wasn’t until 1988 that Technology moved the school forward with APPLE computers.

In the first twenty years the faculty were close together and worked together. Later on factions developed and the Teacher Union ran the informal show at Kakiat JHS. Everyone was done out of fear in those days. No one was happy.

Mrs. Klock, Kakiat JHS librarian

School librarians were forced to become Multi-media people.

Educational Articles

Run Rebels Run

by Dr. Pelham Mead

The civil war is over and the rebel troops have all surrendered except the Texas Rangers Cavalry 9th division “Terry’s Rangers.” They escaped in the night from North Carolina and fled to their homes in Texas. 150 our of 250 crept through the Union picket lines in the night and rode in small groups to Texas. From that point on they were considered outlaws to be hunted down. They had no pardon papers like other Confederate soldiers had, but they were proud and would not bow to the Yankees.

After many incidents Sergeant K. of the Texas Rangers arrives home to Delkalb Texas only to find his ranch, the Lucky K burnt to the ground. All the slaves were gone and their shacks were burnt to the ground also. The manor house was half destroyed and the future of the Lucky K looked dim. To make matters worse, carpet baggers from the North were buying up farms for pennies an acre and organizing the negros and giving them guns and threatening the white people. It was a new Texas Sergeant K. did not want to belong. He met Frank McMullan in the Hill county Texas and Frank was recruiting farmers and families to move to Brazil for cheap land and a new beginning. Sergeant K. signed on and traveled back to Galveston, Texas to board the ship, “Derby,” a brig from New Orleans the Frank McMullan leased for 7,000 dollars. 150 families camped out on the beach at Galveston waiting for the Derby to arrive. Once in port many delays occurred but on December 1, 1865, the colonists left for Brazil.

A few hours out of New Orleans and Frank McMullen realized they had only two barrels of water. The passengers believed the captain was in on a conspiracy to sink the Derby and collect the insurance money. They challenged the captain with drawn pistols. Sergeant K. backed up Frank McMullen with his navy colt pistol. The Captain changed his attitude. A few days more and the Derby was hit by a squall with mountain high waves. The captain tied the wheel and sent to bed. The tied wheel was discovered at 1:00 am. Frank McMullen awoke at 3:00 to find out the Captain abandoned his post. They woke the captain and untied the wheel, but by then the ship was floundering in the waves. One thousand yards away were the rocks of Bahia Honda, Cuba and the ship crashed upon the rocks ripping a large hole in the side. One passenger broke his collar-bone but all 150 passengers including Sergeant K. swim and waded in the shallow water to the shore. A kind Cuban helped bring food to the ship wrecked Americans. Frank McMullen had to travel 30 miles leaving the families behind to find the Brazilian embassy to ask for help. The Brazilian embassy sent Frank to New York city on a steamboat to seek funds and additional help from the Brazilian government. Upon returning to Cuba Frank McMullen got two steamers leased to take the colonists to Rio de Janeiro. 28 days later the ship arrived in the harbor of Rio de Janeiro after stopping at many Caribbean islands on the way.

So behind a new chapter for Sergeant K. and the 150 colonists in looking for land to settle and establish their new lives.

to be continued.

Educational Articles

The Curse of the Samurai .

By Dr. Pelham Mead


The Kabuto of Taira No Masakado, the greatest Samurai of all time who died in 940 A.D.


The next item up for auction is item number c-2044, a original JAPANESE SAMURAI KABUTO STYLED AFTER GENERAL TAIRA NO MASAKADO’s kabuto. This authentic kabuto or samurai helmet was created in the 1600’s as a copy of the original kabuto from 940, first century Japan. The Kabuto is said to have mystical qualities, and some say it is haunted. No worry, we checked it for ghosts. Ha. The starting bid is $10,000 dollars. Do I hear 11,000? Yes the gentlemen in grey number 55. Do I hear $12,000? Yes over there the lady against the wall. We have 12, make it $12,500? Yes over there on the phone. $13,000. Any one at $13,000. Yes Mr. Devesto number 66. Anyone at $14,000. No? Going once, going twice, sold to John Devesto number 66 for $14,000 for the Taira No Masakado style kabuto.
Dad you did it. You got a first century kabuto created in the 16th century Japan. Wow, it is really old?
I needed that kabuto to go with the samurai armor I had at home. This one is as close as I can get to anything from Taira No Masakado, the Japanese General the organized a rebellion against the Emperor in the 930’s. Let me write a check for the man so we can pick up the kabuto in the next room.
Here is your kabuto Mr. Devesto. How do you wish to pay for it sir? Check or credit card? Check is fine. Thank you sir. Here is your receipt and your can pick up your kabuto in the next room.
Would you like us to put your kabuto in a cardboard box sir?
That would be fine. Thank you. Do you want to carry the box Jimmy?
Sure dad. I would love to. How cool is this? Do you think this helmet is really cursed, dad?
It makes for a good selling story. I doubt if it is cursed. Besides Masakado didn’t really wear this kabuto. It is a 16th century copy by another samurai. Do you realize that Masakado lived over a thousand years ago? That is a long time for a curse.
How did the kabuto of Masakado become cursed dad?
Well that is a long story, but when he was killed in a battle in 940 they cut off his head and brought it back to the Emperor to prove that Masakado was dead. The head was hung on a tree near the eastern market in Kyoto the capital. After several weeks the head flew off, and landed in a village on the coast on a little hill which is now located in Tokyo. They have a memorial shrine for the head and kabuto of Taira No Masakado in Tokyo. Many strange things were attributed to the head, an earthquake, fires and deaths of those who defiled the shrine.
Wow that is quite a story. I have to tell my friends that story. What are we having for dinner? I am hungry.
Wait until we get back to our house in Rye, and I can get this kabuto locked up safe and sound. Anthony we are ready to go home? I will order something from our favorite Italian restaurant in downtown Rye.
Sounds great dad.
Should we make any stops sir?
No, just take the FDR home Anthony.
Yes, sir.
One hour later.
Anthony pull the limo around the back after we get out. I take the box into the house Jimmy. I am going to have a glass display case made with a lock to put the kabuto in eventually. I’ll call the restaurant after I lock up the kabuto.
Order garlic bread and carbonara, my favorite.
John goes to the wall vault and puts in the digital code. The vault door swings open and he takes the kabuto out of the box, and puts it in the spacious vault.
(On the phone) Hello Louey’s? I would like to order spaghetti carbonara, garlic bread, and veal and spaghetti.
When is mom coming home dad?
She will be home from work at the museum soon. We’ll save her some dinner. The are doing a special show at MOMA this week and she has to help set up the displays.
I am going to my room until the food is delivered dad.
I will call you when it comes.
An hour later Kathleen Devesto, Jimmy’s mom returns home from work at the museum.
I am home everyone. I smell Italian food. I hope you saved me some. I am starved. Hi John, how did the auction go? Did you get anything good?
Hi Kathy. Guess what? I bought a first century samurai kabuto styled after the original worn by Taira No Masakado the Samurai General that led an uprising against the Emperor in the 930’s in first century Japan. Supposedly, there is a curse involving the head of Masakado with his kabuto on. After he was beheaded by his cousins working for the Emperor, his head was taken back to the Emperor to prove that he was dead. The Emperor had the head and kabuto hung from a tree for a week. Suddenly, the head and kabuto flew to what is now called Tokyo where it now rests at a special memorial garden in honor of Taira No Masakado one of the greatest samurai of all time. Masakado was said to have cursed the Emperor for all time, and the power of Masakado’s curse continues to this day.
Wow, that sounds exciting. How did Sothebys get a First Century kabuto?
From another millionaires collection that died, and they were liquidating his entire estate. I will show you the kabuto after you eat. I saved you some spaghetti carbonara and garlic bread. There is also some veal and spaghetti left too. I will heat it up in the microwave for you.