DON’T MESS WITH BILL

It will be a half-century this fall. Young and innocent, we were the third full class to enter a building new and clean: Greenview Junior High. The visage remains clear.

First floor, to the left, was a suite of offices. Much bigger than at Rowland, it held not only the Principal and Vice Principal, but a cadre of enforcers. We were told (at an early assembly) that most of us —implicitly the “good ones”—would never meet the Dean Of Boys.

My friends WERE good kids. All of them. Heck, by today’s standards, they were saints. Nonetheless, there was Huck Finn in some, boy scout in none, and…sometimes even the best of us met Mr. Burcham.

Snyder did. We spoke of it this week. ‘Got in trouble bringing sneezing powder to school. ‘Twas their only meeting.

Ermine, to be sure, trumped Bobby. Showing up sans belt one day, he was ushered from homeroom to Mr. Burcham. “Try this,” urged the dean, tendering a rope for Mark’s waist. A lesson learned? Not so. Returning beltless the very next day, Erv was again escorted downstairs. This time, though, he got paddled; this time, he learned. No pain, (I suppose), no gain.

“Did he ever paddle you?” I asked Treinish yesterday.
“I don’t think so,” said Alan, “But I had a run in with Miss Kingzett, at Brush.”
(I remembered her. Not only was she Dean Of Girls, but if memory’s correct, she further served as college counselor for the L-Z crowd).
“Yeah,” he continued, “I think she caught us smoking down by the alcove where we used to moon people. SHE hit me.”
“Really?” I mused.
“And told me to go to trade school—that I’d never make it in college.”
(She must have struck his pride that day; Alan went to law school).

None of us, of course, blended nice with trouble more often or better than Randy. Indeed, as Stuart reminded, he raised it to an art form.

There was the time they carped on him for not having a book cover. He returned a day later, his tome draped fully in toilet paper.

Better yet, there was …. It was eighth grade Spanish. Per Greenview geography, language rooms (French, German, Spanish), were second floor, above administration.

“I’m going to pull my tooth out!” “Rais” announced to Stuey and mates.
Then he did. With his hands…he did.
“Was it loose?” I asked Fenton.
“Not a baby tooth, mind you—the real deal”!

There was blood, said Stuart. And commotion. And Randy. Bounding to the front of the class, he kneeled (a la Jolson) before Miss Evans:

“Oooh, oooh, my tooth!!!” he declared.

The class erupted. The roar, mind you, rang immediately above the office of our Dean Of Boys, (who appeared moments later). They were still laughing when, just doing his job, he pulled “Raisin” from the room.

These memories arise, frankly, with the passing this week of Mr. Burcham. As husband, father, grandfather and brother, he’d lived, worked and contributed here all these years: an asset to our community.

Ships we were, however, passing in the night. In forty-seven years, our paths hadn’t crossed. Nor did they ever at Greenview. I was one of those, you see, that never met him.

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