THE OPENING DAY OF SCHOOL

I have many fond memories of the opening day of school, as a teacher, principal, superintendent and exec. Of a regional education service agency. There are also a few years when I probably should have stayed in bed. I know that many of you have had the same experiences.

On my first day as a junior high school principal, I watched, with anticipation, the buses arriving, the youngsters dashing into school. It was an exhilarating experience. These 600 students were in my charge. I was responsible for their well-being from the time they got on the buses till they got home.

Classes began at 8:15. I walked around the building trying to see how things were going. By 8:30, I thought that everything looked normal and I returned to the front of the building to look outside. As I was standing there, a lone figure approached the front of the building. It was one of the 7th graders dripping with water.

I asked him what happened. He told me that Mr. Darion, the science teacher had taken the class down to the stream with test tubes to get samples of the water to put under the microscope. Somehow, Marc, the student, had fallen in. This was not the beginning of the school day that I wanted.

The building that housed the junior high was terribly old. In a few years, it would be condemned by the Department of Labor and Industry (sound familiar to some of you). There was an old bathroom, formerly used by faculty members. I directed Marc to the bathroom and told him to take off his wet clothes, give them to me through the door and I would them into the dryer in the home ec. room next door.

The day went smoothly after that. I saw some things during that day that I knew had to be changed. It was 3:15 and I stood on the stairs at the front of the building and watched the buses leave and the walkers going into town. As they left, I realized that I had left Marc in the old bathroom for the entire day.

I tried not to panic. I got his clothes from the dryer, opened the bathroom door and gave the clothes to Marc. I told him to get dressed and to come to the office. I called his dad, whom I had met sometime earlier in the community. I told him what had happened. He laughed and asked if this time in the bathroom had improved his behavior?

My reputation in this rural town was elevated immediately. I was seen as someone who should not be trifled with, or you would be put in the bathroom jail.

The western part of Pennsylvania is entirely rural. In the 1990 census, the state had more rural people than any other state in the union. I was in charge of a 3,000 square mile 17 school district regional education service agency. Our biggest job was to run almost all of the special education classes in the schools. Eventually, we had 125 classes spread out over the area.

On my first day there, I was a complete novice about how things worked. I had been briefed by bunches of people, including 17 superin- tendents, 17 board members and the central office staff. This was going to be really hard.

If you can imagine what the bussing must have been like. I still, to this day, do not understand how it worked. There were no children anywhere near my office. They were all “out there.” I was very lucky to have wonderful teachers and supervisors. For the ten years that I was there, I could never thank them enough.

At about 8:30, my secretary buzzed me and told me that there was a really peculiar phone call. She sounded hesitant. That was not her normal voice. She was born and bred in the area so she had a handle on most things. This was not one of them.

I picked up the phone and said hello. The voice at the other end said, “Is this Hillman?” I said “yes.” He then said that there was a white van traveling around in Brookville and slowing down at every bus stop where there were children. I asked if he had called the police. He told me that there was no need to do that.

I was puzzled. Maybe I had heard him incorrectly. I asked him, “Is this person still driving the van around?” He said that he wasn’t. I was really confused. Why would this person, who would not give me his name, call to tell me about this, but not call the police? Did the van driver just go away to do the same thing elsewhere.

I believe that the man heard my questioning tone. He said, “We took care of him.” This is one of those signal moments in one’s life that engender horrible thoughts. I was about to ask him what that meant, when he hung up the phone.

I really had no idea what the next step was. I called the superintendent of the school district. He said that he had not heard about a white van. He was curious. I am not sure what he did. We never did discuss it. I called the supervisor in that area. She told me that there had been reports of such a van, but that nothing untoward happened and that the van and driver were gone.

I asked her about calling the police, she was noncommittal. Somehow, I was not understanding any of this. I finally called the local police barracks to see if they knew anything about it. They said that they would check. They never got back to me.

My thoughts at the end of the day were, “What have I gotten myself into?” I will remember that first day for the rest of my life.

IN WHICH I GO INTO THE ARMY-PART X

There are three things that I promised myself that I would never do after I left the army- wait on a line, camp outside, handle a weapon. The three things are a constant in my life with the 97th Signal Battalion. We were a mobile communications outfit. Whenever someone needed a mobile com outfit, we were the only ones in the European theater.

We spent a bunch of time out in the field, living in a rather small bunch of metal placed on a 2 ½ ton truck. Our sleep time was on an air mattress placed under ½ of a pup tent attached to the wheel well of our truck and power unit. Confidentially, I did not sleeping outdoors. We sometimes did it for two weeks.

Waiting on lines was common in my time in basic training and radio teletype training and sometimes when we were in Hopstadten. The not handling of weapons occurred in basic training. For some reason, although I am right handed, I could not shoot the M-1 rifle right handed. I shot left handed and kept on slamming my thumb against my lip. I am the only soldier ever to develop a purple lip by using a weapon.

The time we spent on base, saw me fulfill my role at supply sergeant and attend to those matters that the commanding officer and first sergeant wanted me to do. I also served at the religious clerk and later the outfit’s basketball coach. As religious honcho, I went to meetings and answered questions about religious activities. In that role, one of Catholic members asked if I would take confession because he was too lazy to go to church on Sunday or during a time for confession.

My basket ball coaching job came about when the first sergeant called us all together and asked how many of us could play basketball. About ten of us raised out hands. We met at a gym on campus and kind of shot the ball around and played some three man ball. The first sergeant was not a coach or a former b-ball player. After a few days of “practice,” First sergeant pulled me aside and said this, “Hillman, you are a shit basketball player.” I did not respond. He then told me that I was the  new basketball coach.

In truth, Sergeant Wolf was correct. I was no where near as good as some of the other guys on the team. This is so long ago now that when I played ball, white guys could jump. One of the guys on our team, white guy about 6-2 could dunk backwards with two hands. Another player had been on the freshman team at the University of Texas.

Eventually, this team won the 7th Army Special Troops championship. I was not there at the final game. I was on my way home.

My best buddy was David Stanton Russell. We still communicate. Russ was a three year student at Pomona College, who dropped out to be drafted. He later was actually a member of his local draft board during the Vietnam War. Russ had a couple of bucks and bought an old Opel. We took a real long couple of weeks and went North.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AN OPEN LETTER TO JARED KUSHNER, IVANKA TRUMP, MARC KASOWITZ, GARY COHN, and STEVE MNUCHIN

 

Besides being a raging narcissist, mysogonist, megalomaniac, monomaniac, 8 year old, etc., he is something far more dangerous. He is a dyed in the wool Nazi. This last week of non- response, response and  racist response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia is an example of how he handles things when far right, white nationalists, neo-Nazi’s, and alt-right thugs do there violent best.

It is not surprising that he feels this way. His dad was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. He was arrested in 1927 at a Klan rally, as one of six leaders of the group. If you have not seen the article, it was in the New York Times.

As Jews yourselves, how do you react as daughter, son-in-law, lawyer, advisor to this un-holy man? Is there no limit to things that you will accept as Jews? As you have seen, his warm feelings for Israel faded quickly when he disclosed secrets to the Russian ambassador and foreign minister. That surely shows where his heart is.

His meeting with Jewish businessmen was certainly an example of his lack of prejudice when he told them that they were all proficient in “The Art of the Deal.” It certainly did not feel like a compliment to those sitting there.

Now that his racist-in-charge has either resigned or been terminated, we will see if he moderates his stance on Nazi’s, white supremacists, and other horrible people. I fear that he will not. Interestingly enough, the alt-right has focused a great deal of attention on Jared Kushner as a globalist, whatever that means. That was a code word for Jews in the 19th and early 20th century.

Some say you should quit this administration. Others advise that you stay around to moderate his prejudicial views and perhaps close his mouth. Will a Pence presidency be any better? Probably not, but it certainly will be quieter. That could be even more dangerous.

OPENING DAY OF SCHOOL

I have many fond memories of the opening day of school, as a teacher, principal, superintendent and exec. of a regional education service agency. There are also a few years when I probably should have stayed in bed. I know that if any of you were in any of those positions, may have had the similar experiences.

On my first day as a junior high school principal, I watched, with anticipation, the buses arriving, the youngsters dashing into school. It was an exhilarating experience. These 600 students were in my charge. I was responsible for their well-being from the time they got on the buses till they got home.

Classes began at 8:15. I walked around the building trying to see how things were going. By 8:30, I thought that everything looked normal and I returned to the front of the building to look outside. As I was standing there, a lone figure approached the front of the building. It was one of the 7th graders dripping with water.

I asked him what happened. He told me that Mr. Darion, the science teacher had taken the class down to the stream with test tubes to get samples of the water to put under the microscope. Somehow, Marc, the student, had fallen in. This was not the beginning of the school day that I wanted.

The building that housed the junior high was terribly old. In a few years, it would be condemned by the Department of Labor and Industry (sound familiar to some of you). There was an old bathroom, formerly used by faculty members. I directed Marc to the bathroom and told him to take off his wet clothes, give them to me through the door and I would them into the dryer in the home ec. room next door.

The day went smoothly after that. I saw some things during that day that I knew had to be changed. It was 3:15 and I stood on the stairs at the front of the building and watched the buses leave and the walkers going into town. As they left, I realized that I had left Marc in the old bathroom for the entire day.

I tried not to panic. I got his clothes from the dryer, opened the bathroom door and gave the clothes to Marc. I told him to get dressed and to come to the office. I called his dad, whom I had met sometime earlier in the community. I told him what had happened. He laughed and asked if this time in the bathroom had improved his behavior?

My reputation in this rural town was elevated immediately. I was seen as someone who should not be trifled with, or you would be put in the bathroom jail.

The western part of Pennsylvania is entirely rural. In the 1990 census, the state had more rural people than any other state in the union. I was in charge of a 3,000 square mile 17 school district regional education service agency. Our biggest job was to run almost all of the special education classes in the schools. Eventually, we had 125 classes spread out over the area.

On my first day there, I was a complete novice about how things worked. I had been briefed by bunches of people, including 17 superin- tendents, 17 board members and the central office staff. This was going to be really hard.

If you can imagine what the bussing must have been like. I still, to this day, do not understand how it worked. There were no children anywhere near my office. They were all “out there.” I was very lucky to have wonderful teachers and supervisors. For the ten years that I was there, I could never thank them enough.

At about 8:30, my secretary buzzed me and told me that there was a really peculiar phone call. She sounded hesitant. That was not her normal voice. She was born and bred in the area so she had a handle on most things. This was not one of them.

I picked up the phone and said hello. The voice at the other end said, “Is this Hillman?” I said “yes.” He then said that there was a white van traveling around in Brookville and slowing down at every bus stop where there were children. I asked if he had called the police. He told me that there was no need to do that.

I was puzzled. Maybe I had heard him incorrectly. I asked him, “Is this person still driving the van around?” He said that he wasn’t. I was really confused. Why would this person, who would not give me his name, call to tell me about this, but not call the police? Did the van driver just go away to do the same thing elsewhere.

I believe that the man heard my questioning tone. He said, “We took care of him.” This is one of those signal moments in one’s life that engender horrible thoughts. I was about to ask him what that meant, when he hung up the phone.

I really had no idea what the next step was. I called the superintendent of the school district. He said that he had not heard about a white van. He was curious. I am not sure what he did. We never did discuss it. I called the supervisor in that area. She told me that there had been reports of such a van, but that nothing untoward happened and that the van and driver were gone.

I asked her about calling the police, she was noncommittal. Somehow, I was not understanding any of this. I finally called the local police barracks to see if they knew anything about it. They said that they would check. They never got back to me.

My thoughts at the end of the day were, “What have I gotten myself into?” I will remember that first day for the rest of my life.

 

 

 

IN WHICH I GO INTO THE ARMY- PART NINE

 

A little bit of history here needs to clarify things. As we were stationed in Baumholder, we were close to the German/French border. One of the most industrial parts of Germany was the Saar Valley in Alsace Lorraine. After World War II, that part of Germany was given to France politically, but remained German economically. The place has a long history of going back and forth between France and Germany. Border lines were established after World War Two..

So let’s see how this works. During most of my time in Germany, it was really in France. The U.S. Army had no jurisdiction in the place. M.P.s was not permitted to enter the area. However, guess what, American soldiers were permitted to go there to drink and carouse. We certainly did do that. Our favorite town was Neunkirchen and our favorite bar/gasthaus was Analeisa’s. When I visited Neunkirchen years later, there was no more Analeisa’s, it had become a Ford leasing agency.

We usually mingled with the locals there. Since I was able to communicate with the Germans reasonable well, sometimes I was called upon to settle some conflicts. However, there was one time, when I was the conflict myself. There were always locals there playing chess (choch, I think). We used to watch them and bought beer all around when the game ended. Other than that we would sit around and drink beer (coke mostly for me) and schnitzel sandwiches with mustard. It was a no sweat place.

One evening we came into the gasthaus and there were a number of chess games going on. One of the locals asked me if I played chess. I told him that I had when I was younger. He got kind of mean and let out a challenge for me to play against their best player. I, of course, declined. However, things started to ramp up. Loud voices on both sides seem to insist that I play. To avoid a conflict, I sat down. I must tell you, that even today,  I am not a good chess player.

However, on that day, I must have gotten messages from some long ago chess master, because I whipped the guy good. I don’t remember any of the moves, but in the end it was checkmate.

This did not sit well with the locals. I am not sure what they thought. Perhaps, they thought that I was a ringer. They started to shout and to push some of our guys around. Analeisa came out and yelled that we should take our disagreement outside. We did and it was a free for all. I don’t remember much of it,but I do remember something that may have saved my life.

I did have a really bad temper. Thank goodness, my wife Carol, has taught me to be a much calmer person. At some point during the fray, I was sitting atop one of the German guys and pounding his head on the paved street. Somehow, one of our guys, and I don’t remember who, pulled me off and dragged me to the car that we came in. I did see the poundee get up and walk away.

I am not sure that I ever went back to Analeisa’s. I guess I was just too afraid that I would be tempted to do some damage. I spent more time going on trips around Europe and staying around the base and going into Baumholder the town. I guess it was a lesson that I learned.

 

iwigita-part eight-THE RUMANIAN PROSTITUTE

 

As a result of me being supply sergeant, I was asked to go to many seminars on how to keep the books for the supply room. I can only remember AR 735-35 which enabled us to pass inspections when they came. One of the seminars that I was assigned to go to was in Kaiserslautern about 50 Kilometers from Baumholder. I arrived in the morning went to the first class and then bugged out with some of the other guys into town. We went to a gasthaus (kind of a family bar) and sat around drinking and looking around. I saw a young woman sitting in a corner by herself in a purple shimmery kind of dress. The music on the jukebox was playing a slow song, so I asked her to dance.

I spoke to her in German, but she spoke English well enough. She told me that she was from Rumania and that she had become pregnant by some old fellow (not sure if he was Rumanian or German), had a child that she was taking care of and worked at some sort of factory. Her story touched me. She was 19 years old, same as me and seemed to be lost in the world. We danced pretty much the whole evening. I asked if I could walk her home. She told me that the story that she told me about working in the factory was not true and that she was a girl for hire.

Somehow that didn’t surprise me, but it deepened my concern for her. I told her that I would be back the next night and I was. She was there and we took up from where we left off. I managed to get her address from her and told her that I was very serious about establishing a relationship with her. She seemed to like the idea. When the third night came, I told her that I was serious about her and that we would go to America together. She smiled and told me that was going to be hard. I said we could work through it. I gave her my address in Baumholder and began to communicate with her.

I also wrote a letter to my mother telling her that I had fallen in love and was going to marry a Rumanian girl. I did not tell her of the girl’s occupation. Somehow, she must have gotten the idea that there was something not quite right about this and must have called my commanding officer somehow.

A few days after my letter to mom, Major Clawson W. McCain, who had been in the military since before World War II and had married a Belgian woman soon after, called me into his office. McCain was a hardnosed person who had risen through the ranks and was at the end of his tenure and could not rise beyond major. He told me that he was not going to stand for one of his men consorting with the locals and that I did not have my head screwed on properly. He added that I really knew nothing about this woman and he would see to it that I would end this relationship. I quickly wrote a note to this woman (whose name I cannot remember) and told her of the situation. I never received a reply. I did try and look her up and appeared at the same gasthaus with Russ a few months later, but no one had seen her for a long while. Sometime later on, I was told by one of the gasthaus habitués that she would often consort with soldiers and that the old guy was her husband and that he allowed for this to happen. I was devastated. My first true love and nothing was real- another lesson learned the hard way.

IN WHICH I GO INTO THE ARMY-PART SEVEN

At the end of the sixteen weeks, we got a couple of weeks off before we had to report with all of our gear to a dock in N.Y. or N.J. to board the William Buckner troop ship going to Bremerhaven, Germany. Tony and I were slated for the 97th Signal Battalion in Boblingen, near Suttgart in Germany. As we were called onto the boat one at a time by a Puerto Rican Sergeant, Tony Arcoraci had his name pronounced correctly for the only time in his military career. In a loud and clear voice- Antonio Arrcorrachi get on board.

For most of us, the 9 days at sea was a series of latrine cleanings and sitting around. For Tony it was hell on water. He threw up every day from seasickness and lost 24 pounds in the process. You can imagine how he felt when he touched ground. We got to Bremerhaven and took a train to Stuttgart and then Boblingen. I spent the next month or so getting myself set and hanging around with guys from Kansas, Texas and California. I learned so many lessons there. One of the guys I hung around with was Sam Allred, a relative of the former Governor of Texas and a great musician singer and songwriter. I saw him later on the Merv Griffin show with another fellow and they called themselves the Geezenslaw brothers. Sam could write songs of a moment and later on did record some of them. He was last seen in Austin, Texas a few years ago on a morning show as co-host. He was a funny and talented man.

In about a month or less, Elmer Augustine (Ellis Kansas) and I were transferred to a small support outfit in Hopstaden in a more northerly part of Germany. It was there that I learned that you cannot drink ¾ of a liter of Cognac without getting sick for days and that my German ( from the 13th century Yiddish) was pretty good. I was able to speak to girls and sort of carry on sensible conversations. The only odd part of our stay in Hopstadten was a bar that we went to, whose barmaid was a little person. She would serve you beer and crawl under the table and do other things for you for a price. I was never that horny. Other guys were both drunk and horny.

In another 6 weeks we had our whole outfit, about 60 of us transfer to Baumholder about 20 kilometers from Hopstadten. The detachment had its own barracks at Panzer Kaserne (Panzer is tanks and yes it was the home of Rommel). There we had our own mess hall, mess sergeant and the best food the army could produce. Sergeant Sladek was a genius of a chef and made us almost what we wanted on a daily basis, as long as he had the materials to do it.

Baumholder was not a good place to be I was later told. It had 20,000 troops, civilian workers and others. We had French troops (Algerian) and Polish workers and others we did not commune with these “others” for whatever reason and were cautioned not to hang around with them when we were in town.

Since I was one of the few people with any college education among my peers, I was soon made supply sergeant. My time there, as well as my time as a radio teletype operator would require an additional set of words in a book. However, I lucked into a relationship with David Stanton Russell, who had gone to Pomona College for three years and had decided to get into the service, before the service got to him. He became my friend almost immediately. After over 50 years we still communicate and in 2009, Carol and I went out to California to see him and his wife Tassie and their daughter Carolyn and her family.