9 October, 2014    #19

Armed With Words

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Dr. Campbell often greeted students as we entered Key West High School in the late 1950’s.  A stern, but friendly Principal who believed in following the rules.  Many girls were sent home for revealing too much loveliness, and for guys, a wooden paddle supposedly hung in his office for corrective action. Fortunately, I never found myself on the receiving end of that rumored device.


Academically speaking, I procrastinated assignments until the very last moment.  Looking back, I was probably dyslectic since reading was so difficult that I often fell asleep on page one.  And my spelling was absolutely atrocious.


Mr. Conner’s English IV class was a contradiction.  I really liked the man, but just hated the subject.  My goal was to simply attain a passing grade, thus avoiding the wrath my autocratic father.


Every Monday, Mr. Conner assigned twenty words for our weekly spelling test.  On one particular week, the words were especially strange and probably rooted in the Ancient Greek lexicon.   Procrastinating to the very last moment, I decided to hastily scribble most of the words on the inside of my lower left arm just before entering the classroom.


During the test, I attempted to spell the words from memory, but eventually had to peek at “the arm” to obtain a passing grade.  I never considered this cheating, just survival.


Suddenly, Mr. Conner grabbed my arm from behind and yanked me out of my seat.  I was now uncomfortably the center of attention.  “We have a cheater among us and I have caught him red handed”, as he pulled me to the front of the class.


It was a little embarrassing, and I felt like a cat, helplessly held by the scruff of the neck, before being tossed out the door.  Then, looking closely at my arm, he abruptly stopped and laughed.  “On second thought Mr. Kohut, you can return to your seat and finish the test. The words on your arm are misspelled”.


What a welcomed relief … I had simultaneously escaped Dr. Campbell’s corrective action and the wrath of my dad.  My day was positively improving!


Before entering college after four years in the military, I promised myself never to cheat.  On my last exam before graduation, while struggling with a question, another student’s test paper floated onto the floor.  As I glanced down, the answer was delivered.


I smiled, was it from the Devil or God?


Mike Kohut, President, DDMS





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