Breaking the Rules

                                        The Shadow Knows … 
                                                    By Jeff Salter

            Recall early 1968:  burning draft cards, taking over college admin buildings, student revolutionary groups using bombs.  Now, consider my rather conservative high school:  minimal drugs and violence … no ‘demonstrations’ (yet).  My battles were comparatively trivial:  I was at odds with the dress code (which required short-ish hair, socks on your feet, and a belt in your britches).

The SHADOW
            Since the official school paper was so controlled by the administration, I determined our students needed a ‘rag’ which really cut to the bone.  Convinced the students needed this material, I was assuredly performing a public service … and fairly reeked with nobility.  Ha.
            I don’t recall actually how my friend L. got involved.  Maybe he helped cook up the whole idea … or possibly he helped refine my concept.  All I know is:  I could not have created/produced the SHADOW without L.
            I took the name from the old radio serial Dad told me about and I did the typing on my own electric typewriter.  The sub-title under the ‘flag’ read: “a non-profit underground publication for student representation”.  We published six issues altogether, from late February to early April.

Inaugural Issue
            Production got off to a rocky start.  We conned a teacher out of a few stencils and we wrote the material.  Then I rough-typed it and mocked-up the layout.  We revised and I re-typed it on the stencils.  A friendly secretary tentatively okayed using my church’s duplicator for our unspecified project.  When we were ready to print, she noted that we had spirit stencils (printed light blue) … while the church machine used ink stencils (printed black).  But she knew of a spirit stencil duplicator at the auxiliary school board office … and called to see if we could use it.  Whoa, we can’t produce our underground newspaper attacking bad school policies AT A SCHOOL BOARD OFFICE! 
            But, together, L. and I rarely turned down a challenge … so we hustled to the school board facility.  At the appointed room, we charmed the employee who’d been called.  She showed us the machine and provided brief operational instructions.  When she asked what our project was, we quickly answered ‘cookbook’.  Ha.  After she finally left, we hurriedly ran off 100 copies, thanked her again, and fled.  By the time we got outside, we were giddy with exhilaration:  we’d used a school board machine to duplicate our underground paper!
            In a small ‘company’ like ours, the executives not only wrote, typed, printed, collated, and stapled the product … we also distributed it.  That required “squeezing and entering” the loose gym door – after hours – and placing copies in every third senior locker … plus teachers’ lounge and principal’s office (of course).

Reaction
            Next day, school was abuzz with excitement and intrigue:  “Where did it come from?”  “Who wrote it?”  Several teachers apparently liked the publication and many discussed it in classes.  My own English teacher thought it involved college students since it was so cleverly written (blush).
            As far as I know, until the very end of our run, relatively few knew it was me and L. … except the Principal.  At least three fellow students somehow ID’d one of us, though, and all three contributed articles or poems.

Content
            Much of the material was humorous, but our editorial ‘view’ included these points:
*  enlightening students and urging student responsibility
*  ensuring the administration hears the students’ voice
*  supporting the elected Student Council and its activities … including the area Council
*  allowing students unrestricted use of the school library
*  obtaining better physical environment (lighting, ventilation, etc.)
*  loosening of ‘dress codes’
*  making the school dances ‘open’ events
*  streamlining ‘sick call’ and ‘check out’ procedures
*  publishing creative writing:  including allegories, poems, and satire
            I definitely remember writing at least 12 of the 28 articles.  It’s possible, however, that L. and I collaborated on some of those 12.  L. wrote several others completely by himself.

Confiscated Issue
            Issue number three was the last one we put in lockers, late after school.  When we drove by that night, we saw hall lights and the Principal’s car.  He must have found the one in his own office and searched for the other 99.  The next day, we learned he’d found almost all of them after probably checking every locker.
            But he didn’t get them ALL!  At least one got into the hands of a teacher, who somehow made a new master from that copy and duplicated a considerable number of new copies on a different type machine.  Since a teacher re-published the confiscated issue, we knew we were hitting a responsive chord and raising significant matters!

Called on the Carpet
            At some point about mid-way, I was called into the Principal’s office.  He talked about my dress code violations and hedged a good bit about the SHADOW.  I don’t believe he directly accused me of producing it (no ‘proof’) but made it clear he knew.  I played dumb, giving my very best rendition of puzzlement, as though I were a total innocent picked out of a random line-up.  Ha.  
            The Principal had a real dilemma:  I was a ‘B’ Honor Roll student, with a solid IQ, and very respectable college board scores.  I was liked and respected by most teachers and I’d never been ‘in trouble’ in the classic sense.  So how far could he go … with only his personal conviction that I was “Uncle SHADOW”?  He settled with a threat of expulsion!  It was apparently based on my dress code violations, with a veiled reference to SHADOW.  So, I took appropriate action:  cut my hair and wore socks and a belt.  But L. and I kept the SHADOW going!

Senior Wills
            Finally came issue six, the “Special Senior Will Edition”.  In years past, the official school paper had run ‘senior wills’, but the Principal had axed them because they were presumably tasteless.  [Which, of course, is the whole point of senior wills!]  So we brought them back!  L. and I spent an entire weekend anonymously calling people; we published 49 unsigned wills … practically everything that wasn’t obscene.

Constructive and Creative
            There was a lot of destructive rage in early 1968.  But not me.  I had constructive indignation … with a touch of creative bemusement.  But even that was enough to cause threat of expulsion!
            The SHADOW was very creative, largely positive, and decidedly ‘bodacious’.  It provided exhilarating excitement and was a LOT of work!  All this during practice and production of the [senior] play, college ‘board’ testing, a lot of dating, and maintaining a solid ‘B’ average — I marvel at my energy then.

Question
            What kind of hi-jinks were YOU involved in during high school?  Did you get caught?

About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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23 Responses to Breaking the Rules

  1. Tonya says:

    Hmmm….I have to say that I wasn’t involved in anything exciting!

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Well, then you may have been like the ‘good’ girls whom L. and I liked to flirt with. But that’s a completely different column. LOL.
      Thanks for stopping by, Tonya. I know you’re busy with edits for the 4th (?) or 5 (?) novel.

      Like

  2. Oh Jeff, you are such the rebel!
    Good for you in channeling all that creativity into something as wonderful as The Shadow. Do you have any left over copies? You should post an article or two, if you do.
    I was editor for our literary magazine that came out once a year. It was really much more like a book and we had complete creative control. It was awesome! I was lucky in that my high school, Singapore American School, was very supportive of creative endeavors and believed in the students having their voice. As a result, we also had a great newspaper written, edited and published by the kids.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Stacey, you were indeed fortunate to have such a supportive atmosphere for creative outlets. Even though my school years included many wonderful INDIVIDUAL teachers — who gave me wonderful encouragement at vital junctures — I think it’s safe to say that the STRUCTURE [whether administration or ‘culture’] was unimaginative … and felt oppressive.
      Funny that you’d mention leftover copies of ‘Shadow’. When I went to my 25th class reunion, I took a large poster board with several clippings from various issues … along with a paragraph in which I ‘fessed-up’ that L. and I were the ones responsible. Strangely — nobody acted like they were surprised … so maybe more people knew than I realized. It wasn’t the big ‘reveal’ that I had envisioned. Ha.

      Like

  3. Such fun- a rebel in your own way. Sounds like it was a blast. We had a radio station here that used to play those old serial shows late on Saturday nights and I remember sitting on the beach with friends while camping listening to these way into the am hours. It was awesome and the SHADOW did know!! Thanks for bringing back to mind a great memory.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      I don’t think I’ve ever heard an entire episode of the original radio series, but I’ve heard clips. Other than the western serials he saw occasionally at Saturday movie theaters, the Shadow was the ‘media’ program which most impressed my Dad. One of the very few possessions of his childhood which he’d managed to keep … was a cheap plastic ring which he got from the promotion dept. of the Shadow radio serial. It doubled as a ‘stamp’ which you could smush onto an ink pad and then ‘stamp’ an impression of the Shadow onto paper. Wish I knew where that ring-stamp has gone to.

      Like

  4. Ted Talley says:

    Jeff, in retrospect, it was a very cool thing you and L. accomplished and much less dangerous than Clay J. and Steve A. painting their names on the city water tower (and those two DID get in major trouble with police cars pulled up out front of the high school, etc). I had no idea you got up to six editions. As I recall I gave The Shadow a mention in my Farmer teen news column and it was sort of a non-plussed review. If I had known all that had gone into this project, I would have written a more glowing paragraph. Hey, but at least you got the attention of the ‘mainstream’ press. Ha! I guess I didn’t appreciate the messages to improve CHS because I had already set my sights on departure since the previous spring, in our junior year, when I got the acceptance letter from Baylor. Like my childhood hero, Davy Crockett/Fess Parker, I had my eyes set on crossing the Sabine into Texas. My senior year was good, but a holding pattern. Glad you made something of it with a flair. As to what I ‘got away with’? I don’t know. Nothing extraordinary except stealing a few road signs. Nothing compared to being self-published with school board equipment. That is classic.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Glad you could stop by, Ted. I actually mentioned your column in an earlier draft of today’s blog … but as it stands, it’s nearly double the recommended length for this type of venue.
      My recollection was that L. and I [inadvertantly] nearly got you into trouble, because you were the “most logical suspect” on that first day … having hosted the teen column in the City’s weekly paper for that entire year. All I recall about your subsequent column was that you rightly distanced yourself from it — (presumably) having been just as surprised as anybody else by its appearance.
      Something I’ve always meant to ask you, though: Did the Principal ever ‘interview’ you about the Shadow? Did he or any other teacher ever ASK you if you were involved with the Shadow’s production?
      I know I heard the buzz that you were a ‘suspect’, but (of course) I wasn’t telling anybody anything!

      Like

  5. crbwrites says:

    Thanks to your fine groundwork, Jeff, the mid-70s dress codes were much more lenient. By the time I reached eighth grade, girls could wear pants to school. The next year–blue jeans! Not only that, we had a student smoking area! I can hardly believe it, considering today’s anti-smoking mindset. However, it did the job of getting the smokers out of the restrooms.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Glad to oblige, Chris. LOL. As if our little publication even made a ripple in that cultural Tsunami of the late 60s.
      When think back to that year (’68) in which so many pivotal events occurred, it amazes me how uninformed and ‘innocent’ I was to what was going on. I remember later, that autumn when I was at university, hearing people talk about the infamous Democratic convention in Chicago (earlier that summer) … and I was just clueless.
      But I spent that year catching up. Ha.
      In our school, only the ‘bad’ boys smoked and they had one particular corner of the school yard (which was more than a square block) — though, frankly, I no longer recall where it was.

      Like

      • Llewelyn Tucker says:

        Jeff, The smoking area was over behind Coach Bryant’s shop and the Band Hall. And BTW, I am married to one of that group of ‘bad boys’ now! Ha Ha!!

        – Llewelyn

        Like

      • jeff7salter says:

        ROFL, Llew ….
        Well, thanks for straightening out my campus geography.
        But, now I’m horrified that you married one of those ‘bad boy’ smokers. LOL
        Of course in your case, it appears you got the good apple from that bunch.
        I want to stay on his good side, because I don’t mess with truckers named Tucker.

        Like

  6. jbrayweber says:

    I was far too high profile to commit any lasting hi-jinks, being a A+ student on the drill team, and all. It was bad enough that i hung out with those metal heads and hair band freaks (most of whom I’m still friends with).
    I only skipped one class in high school. One. And promptly got caught. It wasn’t that I was bad at skipping. No, it was just that I had a car the entire town recognized. 1969 Cutlass Convertible. So when it showed up somewhere it wasn’t supposed to be, busted!
    But in no way was I a goody two-shoes. I just reserved all my hijinks for outside the school.
    Aw..good times…good times…Maybe I’ll blog about some of them. 🙂

    Great post, Jeff. I love learning these tidbits about you!

    Jenn!

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Well, Jenn, now I really want to hear about your ‘outside the school’ hi-jinks! Be sure to give us notice where you’re going to blog about those!
      Wow, a ’69 Cutlass ragtop —what a car. I can definitely see how it would be impossible to be discreet in such a vehicle. I guess you needed a buddy with some beat-up beige VW … to convey you to whatever naughtiness you had in mind. LOL

      Like

  7. Freaking fabulous post!
    As for me, sadly (LOL), I did not once get into trouble in high school. The last time I got trouble in school, in fact, was in Kindergarten when I stood on one of the little round tables when the teacher left the room. And when she caught me, I just jumped off the table. =c/ She didn’t say a word, but it sure FELT like trouble! (I also never missed a day of school. Coincidentally I posted on my blog just yesterday about my certificate for 13 years of perfect attendance.) <<YAWN.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Thanks, Sarah. Yeah, I read your blog about that enviable record of perfect attendance. I’ll have to say I’m surprised to even know such a thing was possible.
      I mean, I missed days because of minor illnesses, missed a couple of weeks (3rd gr.) for a hospital stay. Had some injuries along the way, had doctor’s appointments in New Orleans — for specialists our small town didn’t have. Plus my dad took us on long trips — they were his professional converences, but became our vacations. — nearly every spring for several years (during the school term!).
      Finally, in my senior year, I played ‘hooky’ several times.

      Like

  8. Laurie Ryan says:

    I LOVE this story. Having attended a small, Catholic, all-girl, high school, we learne just how good rebellion was for the soul. We also learned about paying the price for rebellion. Sisters back then tended to rule with an iron, well, ruler. I didn’t do anything TOO terrible, but did get caught in jeans (oh, the horror!) one afternoon while taking a physics class at the local boys school. I paid dearly for that with extra homework for the rest of the semester. You see, our principle (the one who caught the six of us in jeans) also TAUGHT the statistics class I was taking that quarter. Sigh.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Glad to hear from you again, Laurie.
      I knew several girls who went to an all-girl Catholic school and they talked about the Sisters and their rulers on the knuckles. LOL.
      It’s difficult to imagine — now — what the great FEAR was about students wearing jeans (in your case) or me going without socks. I mean DID IT REALLY AFFECT our educational experience? Ha.

      Like

  9. Oh, God, I love it! ‘Act dumb’-cut-your-hair, wear-socks’ and keep the paper going!
    Brilliant!
    I was a coward; I salute you!
    My brother was in trouble in 1967 for his hair being too long.It was not ‘hippy-long’ and always styled, neat and clean, but one male teacher grabbed him and a couple of other boys during lunch, took them to a barber shop and had their hair cut.My mother hit the roof.She called the man, gave him heck, asked him if they should all go bald because he was and did other assorted calling-to-the-carpet. Afterward, my brother told her that the teacher was a Bataan Death March survivor. She was nearly sick to her stomach about what she’d said to him. She lamented for a long time.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Wow. I can see how your mom would be upset … and that teacher had no right to do what he did. But I can also see why she’d regret ‘fussing’ at a survivor of the Bataan Death March. THat said, his status (and what he endured during the war) did not give him license to mistreat kids. He crossed a line in forcing those boys to get haircuts. He was wrong and your mom called him on it.

      Like

  10. Lois Grant says:

    I was fairly obedient when I was in school and the only sign of rebellion that I did was smoking and using curse words, which sad to say I still use at times up to this day. I quit smoking before I turned 40, twenty six years ago. Your creativity and humor began early. Would love to have known you back then.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Thanks for visiting again, Sug.
      Glad you’ve been smoke-free for 25 yrs — I’ve seen studies which say the lungs can quickly ‘take back’ all the ground they lost, even from formerly chronic smokers.
      There were periods in my life when I cussed more than I do now. I’ve heard the expression that people who cuss constantly have a lack of imagination. Ha.
      Yeah, I had creative and humorous outlets fairly early in my life … but I’ve also had long dry spells with not much of either.

      Like

  11. BettyBookWorm says:

    What a great article about the underground paper and your commitment to ensuring student voices were not censored! In my high school we did have an anonymous column that appeared in our regular student newspaper…this column addressed problems (with clever writing and humor, think Joel Stein in Time magazine) in the school and was titled “Catharsis”. I remember it causing quite a stir. I think it was an article on the senior patio or something about how it was becoming like a smoking area? One of my best guy friends was the senior class president and he was quite outraged by the column, which was written by two of my best girl pals but I never revealed the source. I am not sure if they ever did reveal themselves?

    Re your question– yes, there were a few things i got away with but as a mother of two boys I’d prefer to keep that to myself and to keep alive their illusions that I never did anything wrong (they suspect their dad had a checkered past but my reputation is pristine and staying that way!)

    Like

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