The Bad Days

It was 1973, my  first hour general math class was walking to the local grocery store, a trip of two blocks. The  morning was clear, bright and a hint of a chill. The lesson was on unit pricing, whether it was cheaper to buy the big box or the smaller, that sort of thing.

A block into our walk, a woman ran out into the street in her night-clothes. Her anguished screams made all of us to retreat a bit.  We knew her to be the mother of one of our juniors.  Still some distance away and about to collapse, she pleaded for help, anybody to help.

Walking with me at the time was the quarterback of our football team, smart and mature. I grabbed his arm and pulled him forward. Not knowing what to do with the rest of the class, I motioned them to the store and shouted the same.

We were directed to a small, newly remodeled bedroom where our junior lay motionless. Warm, but with no pulse, and I could not for sure tell if he was breathing. The mother was making all this very difficult . My QB put his arms around her and carried her from the room.

I pulled junior to the floor and began CPR. The breath back from him was so putrid I gagged nearly every time. Someone stepped in and said an ambulance was on the way. Knowing that once you start CPR, you cannot stop. 20 minutes later, the ambulance people arrived, I was exhausted.

Junior was pronounced dead 10 minutes later…

The father hadn’t properly ventilated the heater in the new bedroom .

Two years later as principal, I was called by the Superintendent’s wife, The superintendent had been ill and in the hospital. She wanted a couple boys to help her get the superintendent into the car for a trip  back to the hospital. His house was just a block away, a big office aide and myself could handle it.

He was at the edge of his bed, a big man. He did not recognize me. He staggered about four steps, then collapsed in our arms unconscious.

He breathed a few times, then stopped. Already on the floor, The aide and I started CPR. There were times where breathes and movement gave us hope. He was in that state when the ambulance arrived.

He died later that night…

Nearly 25 years later, the third of my sad days occurred. I was ‘Dean of Students’ at the time.

We received word that a shooting had occurred outside of town and in the ensuing minutes a gun battle was taking place through town. Immediate lock down and lockout  Cell phones were chirping about one to three policemen had been shot. It was a mess, parents coming to get their students through the turmoil . The principal held his ground. No one would be released .

Then the call came, a policeman had been shot critically. They were sending a police car to get his two children in hopes that they might see him before he died. The school housed city police children, sheriff and deputy children, and state police children, all were in a state of high anxiety.

The police officer’s daughter was in a darkened lock down classroom. I will never forget when our eyes met. She melted into nothing. It was all I could do to get them to the waiting car. The car’s motor was running hot with three policemen to get the kids inside. The police car left skid marks for many feet, wheels smoking. They all had children too.

They did not arrive in time…

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