7 March 1958
It seems somebody put gum into Ms. Connolly’s keyhole and Bill’s entire homeroom is getting a week’s detention unless the culprit is found.
Yesterday, I went up to Collinwood High to approve Nancy’s program for next semester. Mrs. Stith was not able to be found, and Mrs. Smit took over. I got to see Mrs. Stith too, but it was Mrs. Smit’s day.
There seems to be no connection between these two items, but there is. The episodes are related to Bill’s “D” in play production from Miss Peck after a “B” and an “A” for the first two months of the semester.
Bill, having a vocational guidance interview scheduled for [at] Western Reserve [University] next Thursday, announced he was going to ask [Collinwood High School Assistant Principal Joseph] Dinunzio to excuse him from Thursday’s detention. If Dinunzio refused to excuse him, he was walking out.
After hearing from Mrs. Smit how Miss Peck’s petty attitudes kept a fine student out of the honor society just a few hours before, knowing Bill might have Miss Peck for English in the 12 A, feelings between them being what they are, then [his] having announced he was walking out of school if Dinunzio did not excuse him, had me really worried.
A long discussion occurred with Bill, myself, and Kurt stoking the furnace. To make it more complicated, Kurt, it finally turned out, did not understand the situation until the end of the discussion and finally sided with Bill.
First, I was scared about Bill’s apparent flagrant nonconformity to school authority. As it turned out he really was the violent nonconformist I feared he was.
Second, Bill and Kurt agreed, if Bill had the appointment Thursday, which Kurt did not at first understand is where the crux of the situation lay, (he thought Bill was merely defying the detention) Bill was correct in walking out.
I was still uneasy.
After Bill had gone to bed, Kurt went up to shave, while I sat down in the kitchen waiting for a couple eggs to boil for Nancy’s lunch this morning.
Why was I so uneasy, I asked myself. I remember my own adolescent contempt for authority.
Kurt, before he went upstairs said, after I told him about this Peck being probably Bill’s English teacher in the 12th grade, it would be not so good if Bill and Miss Peck tangle again. However, he went on, if Bill’s grades were good in class work etc., and miss Peck pulled another “D” because Bill defied her pettiness, he himself would take the matter up to the Board of Education if it stood in the way of a scholarship for Bill, which we very likely will need financially to put him through college.
Kurt and I talked some more, Kurt pointing out to me [that] authority, proper authority one lived with, but unreasonable, damaging authority had to be challenged and fought.
Sitting with boiling eggs I wondered again at my ready uneasiness and how silly it was when Kurt mapped out his strategy.
Later, eggs boiled, I said to Kurt, before I went to bed, I had a fairly good idea what was eating me. Here’s how I explained it. My mother’s domination and authority, so damaging to me, was an authority I couldn’t cope with as a youngster. In my adolescence, injustice I knew and recognized, but even at this late date when I ran into serious authoritarian domination I reverted emotionally to those remaining childhood roots of fear. My own experience as an adolescent rebel caused me much heartache and I was fearful for Bill. Actually, it was emotional retrogression to an old source with some remaining roots.
Trying as the whole discussion with Bill, Kurt, and myself had been, it was worth the whole 45 minutes of it. Bill found vindication for his stand with Kurt. I discovered some old ghosts were still lurking in my subconscious closet, and Kurt help me flush them out.
It was a difficult day – but before I dropped off to a peaceful night’s rest, I felt a good deal of progress had been made all the way around.
As a sequel to these notes of today, I’m attaching an article from this morning’s P. D. Which seems to have a bearing on the whole subject I have been discussing.