"Knuckle Sandwiches and Scoffed Textbooks"
is now less flogging in our great Schools than formerly, but then
less is learned there; so that what the boys get at one end they
lose at the other.
- Samuel Johnson
Mr. Harrison: "Tim, if you found 45 cents in one pocket and 35 cents
in the other, what would you have?"
C.: "Somebody else's pants."
in "The Towers", W.D. Lowe's yearbook, circa 1960. W.D. Lowe Technical
School (successor to the Windsor-Walkerville Technical School).
1650 students. All boys. A no-nonsense school. Run by Lee F. McGee,
who used to boast that he operated a "tight ship".
school where the appearance of the boys hulking through the halls
between classes belied the strict discipline of the institution.
Skin-tight pants, narrow ties, pointed shoes, white socks, duck-tail
haircuts, pink combs protruding from rear pockets.
no hair on the face. Any boy adventurous enough to sprout
a cookie-duster was promptly sent home to shave by the first teacher
who spotted the fuzz.
few years later Vice-Principal "Scrubby" Aitchison would keep an
old, painfully dull electric razor in his desk drawer for the rent-free
use of any boy looking five o'clock shadowish.
was a tough school where threats of "knuckle sandwiches" (sometimes
brought to realization in nearby alleys) were the order of the day.
a school with a province-wide reputation for excellence in the trades.
A Lowe grad had an edge on the graduate of any other school when
applying for a job in the trades anywhere in Ontario.
the boys knew it. They had a sense of pride in their school, which
sometimes descended to snobbery. I recall lecturing the boys in
assembly one day for their lordly and patronizing attitude toward
the students of "mere high schools".
that the academic side of education was ignored. When Lowe's first
Grade 13 class wrote the Ontario Departmentals in 1966, the boys
scored the highest average of all secondary schools in Windsor.
discipline was part of the explanation.
replies a careless boy, in reply to a query from his teacher.
beg your pardon!". "I mean 'yes'." "Yes, what?"
Sir!" "That's better."
strap was never far away. It could be and was applied for such infractions
as the use of profanity. And several sharp raps on the cranium,
administered by the teacher's knuckles, was the accepted method
of attracting the attention of a daydreaming lad.
Well I guess! In the early 1960's the boys at Lowe still carried
in the halls a "paddle" (a small piece of wood bearing the number
of the classroom from which the boy had been excused). And woe betide
any student caught in the halls without it.
to say, theft was at a minimum, but still a boy, when asked for
his missing textbook, would often reply: "Somebody scoffed it, Sir."
discipline was already waning. An edict from on high called for
teachers to surrender their classroom straps. Nearly 100 per cent
did. Nearly. A Board of Education mogul appeared at the class room
door of Pat McManus, who taught at Lowe for 100 years, to demand
that he surrender his strap.
it away from me," replied six-foot, three-inch Pat. The strap
school with 25 shops, including three for autos where the boys would
repair my old 1957 Pontiac and I could rest easy in the knowledge
that the work would be excellent. We had no "recalls" in those days.
tough school, but in some ways "oh, so gentle". With a literary
page in the yearbook. And no one laughed at the contributors of
the poems. Not unless he wanted to pay to have his teeth rearranged
as a postscript to the conversation.
Murray, the great coach of the 1940's and 1950's who produced more
championship basketball and football teams than anyone could remember.
Easing off a bit in the classrooms of the early 1960's.
Weir, artist unique, sporting his little goatee, the first beard
of any staff member in the Windsor school system.
Bill Malkin, academic director, whacking the flat of his hand on
the office counter and thundering at some cowering lad: "I don't
give a cuss why you were late! You'll serve a detention!"
Levine, proving over and over that all of those Italian boys were
shop teachers such as Charlie Murray, Clarence Cole, Fred Barnes
and William Anderson, all bringing a natural dignity into their
shops and classrooms.
continuous noonhour staff room crib game involving Messrs. Ryan,
Sherman, Aitchison and Sivell.
Merle Worthy's smile bringing a beam of sunshine into the front
joke in the yearbook:
(pointing to a cigarette butt in the shower room): "Is that yours,
"No, Sir. You saw it first."