It was my good fortune to live through the Seventies (there were a few times when it seemed I might not) and they were some turbulent times indeed. Things started to get really bad at the public high school I attended. Drugs, fights and riots were commonplace. I remember one morning when my mom pulled into the parking lot to drop me off and we found a huge gang fight in progress. She just drove through the turn-around and headed back home. One day near the end of my career there, racial tensions erupted when the results of the cheerleader tryouts were announced and too few black candidates had been chosen. I was lying in the clinic with a bloody nose that wouldn’t stop (no, my injury had nothing to do with the riot.) Outside the window, I could hear screams and shouted encouragements to violence. Inside, I could hear the phone ringing off the hook as frantic parents called to say, “send my son/daughter home right now!” The administration had completely lost control.
Interestingly, the final blow to my public school career was academic, not bellicose. In the 10th grade I was scheduled for something called “Lab Math,” a term that was unfamiliar to my parents, and at the open house they were further dismayed to learn that the instructor was barely able to speak English intelligibly. My mother knew the head of the Math Department and she asked her friend about “Lab Math.” Lab Math, Mom learned, was addition, subtraction, division and multiplication … a class that my test scores and IQ seemed to indicate was not for me. At last, my parents had had enough. They made a very significant financial sacrifice and enrolled me in a private Christian school.
Not long afterwards, my father purchased a few acres in then-rural Georgia. (This was before everyone in the world and their brother moved there.) It was a sad day for me when I told those woods goodbye. We built a new house and I actually did a good bit of work on it myself. In spite of that, the house still stands today. In later years, my brother also purchased some adjoining land. Eventually, I would build my own home next door, where I currently live.
But that would be many years in the future!