After 10 years of coaching football at Clinton-Massie, Wilmington Schools Superintendent Rodger Borror invited me to work as a guidance counselor at Wilmington High School. It looked like a good situation and our family was growing.
A little more income also was incentive to make the change. So I did.
I can’t say my years as a counselor were my most exciting years in education, but I think I was able to assist several students in making some decisions that affected their futures. Guidance counselors did not exist in my high school days, but I do remember my chemistry teacher’s advice to me.
When I told him I was going to go to college and study paper technology and work for the large paper company in town, he said I would fail measurably! Sound advice — and I changed my direction that very moment.
There were some days in that job that stand out and I would like to share them with you. A new student arrived and was sent to my office to enroll. I’ll call him Willie. It was obvious he came from a rough background, and he was very upset. He walked in and said, “I’m 18 and I’m quittin’ this damn school and you can’t stop me!”
I told him we did not have his records from his previous school and he would have to wait for them to arrive. He reluctantly agreed. I liked this kid right away…
A few days later they showed up, and Willie was only14 years old!
So I called him into my office and when he sat down, I said, “Willie your records show you’re only 14 years old.” Before I could say another word, he jumped up and yelled, “That damn school cost me four years of my life!”
I almost fell out of my chair laughing.
Willie stayed for a while, was in my office every day for some reason or another, and we became great friends. But school was not for Willie, and after a while he stopped attending.
However, once in a while he showed up and would say to our secretary, “I need to see Lamke!” (Never “Mr.”)
Many times he had a problem and we would discuss it. I asked him once what he was doing and he said he was driving a log truck in Kentucky. My reaction was that those trucks scared me to death
He said that a while back the brakes went out on his truck going down a hill.
I said, “What in the world did you do?”
He jumped up and said, “Well you damn fool, I jumped out!” Ask a dumb question …
Tony Lamke of Wilmington writes a periodic column for the News Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.