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John Kespert
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John Kespert   My Press Releases

Tale of a Grade School Drop-out – Pt 8

Published on 1/13/2016
For additional information  Click Here

Tale of a Grade School Drop-out – Pt 8

A Reprieve – Then A Long Term Sentence

    Back in Part 6 of this series, I told about how I'd been so interested in science during Junior High. Now I'd like to share more about those two years of Junior high, and in particular the second year.

   Just as I'd been able to return to a grade school after our town built a new one that was all on one level when I entered the 5th grade, construction of a brand new junior high school was completed just when it was time for me to enter the 7th grade.

    Due to having had polio, I didn't have enough stamina to attend a full day of classes, so they arranged it so I would have all the necessary subjects first, and the final period would only be gym or a study period since those wouldn't matter that I missed them. Everything went smoothly and I very much enjoyed the 7th grade.

    The first day of 8th grade didn't go quite so smoothly. Some of the important classes were scheduled for the final period of the day, after I'd have left to go home.

    Futhermore, one of the classes that I did attend that first day did not appeal to me at all, even though it was my English class and I very much enjoyed reading and writing. After just one period with the teacher of that class, I was not happy with the prospect of having that English teacher for an entire year.

    My discomfort with that teacher had to do with his introductory speech. One part of it that sent chills down our spines was that if we ever showed up to class without a pen or pencil, and there was a quiz or test that day, we'd get an automatic zero. The teacher's name was Mr. Nelson. His speech seemed like what a warden would give to new inmates upon their arrival to his prison.

    Day number 2 of the 8th grade went much better. My classes had been re-arranged so I'd have the final period free. That resulted in my having new teachers in almost all the classes. I was delighted to learn that it meant I'd have a new teacher for English! What a relief! I'd been granted a reprieve.

    All went well that school year. At least it went well until my doctors decided I needed to have back surgery to correct the curvature of my spine. They scheduled it to be done in January, and I'd have to be in the hospital for 6 weeks, followed by time at home confined to bed before I could get back up in my wheelchair again.

    January came around way too soon. The operation went well. I was soon in a ward with other patients, and expected that I'd be there for a month and a half.

   Shortly after the surgery, however, the doctors reviewed my medical history of how I'd had polio back in 1955, and how my Mom had given me better therapy and care during a 6 week “vacation” at home in 1957 than the professional therapists had done in the 6 months prior to that. So...they offered to send me home just 2 weeks after the operation.

    Mind you, I was in a body cast from my neck to below my hips. And most of the time I had leg casts on on both legs. (bone had been removed from one leg to help fuse the rods they'd put in my back). And I have to be turned from being on my back to being on my stomach at regular intervals. That meant I would need to have a hospital bed at home. And my Mom would have to do all my care.

    My Mom and Dad talked it over. Then they ordered a hospital bed and had it put into my bedroom at home. So back home I went after just two weeks in the hospital.

    Of course now that I was at home, there was no reason why I couldn't continue with my schooling. The school department was notified, and they arranged for one of the 8th grade teachers to come to the house at the end of the school day to tutor me in all the required subjects.

    A teacher was chosen. That teacher came to the house. That teacher was none other than the dreaded Mr. Nelson. Oh my! I'd managed to escape his tyranny for English class after the first day of that school year. Now I was stuck with him for every subject for the rest of the school year. How would I endure it? How would I survive being condemned to such an intolerable sentence?

   The first day with him sitting beside my hospital bed, going over one subject after another, wasn't too bad. At least being at home, and confined to bed, I wouldn't have to risk leaving the house without a pen or pencil. And here, Mr. Nelson didn't seem to be too much of an ogre.

    Part of his English assignment that first day involved memorizing a poem by the end of the week. There was a collection of poems that I could choose from. I picked the shortest one, of course. However the next week I had to pick another one to memorize. And another one the next week. It soon became quite clear that it was just a matter of time before I'd have to memorize the longest poems as well. Not easy, but I managed it. Just because I was stuck in bed, he wasn't going to make things easy for me. He expected me (like he obviously expected all his students) to learn just as much as we could.

    Much to my surprise, Mr. Nelson turned out to not so much of a monster after all. I even heard about the time that he'd severely reprimanded a few students when they were late coming to class after lunch period, and afterward been chagrined to learn their tardiness was due to their having been hard at work doing a project for the school, which they'd given up their lunch period to do.

    By the time 8th grade was over, I'd actually come to like Mr. Nelson and he became a friend of our family. In fact, years later, about a day after the birth of his son, he gave us a call to see if I was interested in selling my electric train set that was set up in our basement but I hadn't used in years. (After all, he knew his one day old son would really like to have an electric train set!) Yes, I did sell it to him.

  Thank you for taking time to read this part of my "Tale of a Grade School Drop-out."  If you'd like to read previous intallments of this series, here are links to them:  Part. 1, Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5, Part 6, and Part 7.

    I also invite you visit my IBO Social/profile page to learn what I'm doing online for business now.

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