Last week, Knucklehead, over at Knucklehead!, did a post on high school principals, as portrayed by Hollywood.
My high school principal was along the lines of Strickland in the Back to the Future movies. Earlier in life, he'd been a fighter pilot and a professional tennis player, and we kids respected him. For sheer personality, though, you had to go back to the previous principal, who was there when my older sisters attended WWHS and I knew only by legend.
J. William Holmes (aka J. Willy), would have made a great movie character. Perhaps 5'4" tall, with a bald head and a round belly, he was a figure that struck fear into the hearts of students and teachers alike.
He once, in front of an entire auditorium of teachers and students, introduced the new shop teacher, who was a Master Mason, as a masturbator.
And not one person dared to laugh.
He filled the hallways of our school with reproductions of famous artworks, so that students walked past Utrillo and Gaugin and Da Vinci every day. In the stairwell that led to the third floor Spanish lab hung a story-high crucifix – and this in a public, mid-western high school.
Now picture this: It is 1961. The entire school -- 1200 students plus the entire faculty -- are assembled to rev up the spirit for that night's football game. The brass section of the school band is channeling John Phillips Sousa. The cheerleaders are building human pyramids. The jocks are standing around the edges of the frenzy, trying to look cool.
Suddenly, the door of the auditorium slams open and in the doorway stands J. Willy.
The room instantly goes silent.
"I am looking for Joe Saunders," he thunders.
"Where," he demands awfully, "is Joe Saunders?"
The silence grows louder.
Finally, timidly, one of the teachers says, "Joe Saunders graduated last year, sir."
J. Willy thinks about that.
"Ah," he says, "Resume your pep."
And walks out.
Tomorrow: J. Willy Takes on the Military Industrial Complex