Who’s Guilty?

Who’s Guilty?

by Guest Author, Angie Brown

Mr. Callahan, a physical education teacher, was standing below the upper hallway talking to other teachers when a large piece of chalk hit him directly on the top of his balding head, with such force as to bring tears to his eyes. With a shocked look on his face, Mr. Callahan raced up the stairs, passing pretty Miss Gertie Levelle, the school’s top student, who was on her way down the stairs. As he reached the top of the stairs, he confronted a group of boys milling around in the hallway. These students had assembled in the upper hallway and were waiting for classes to start.

“Who dropped that chalk?” he roared. No one answered. Yanking a note pad out of his coat pocket, he said, “I want names.”  Hurriedly, he wrote: Frederick, Finley, Cassidy, Holson and Green.  “I want you fellows in the Principal’s Office after classes.  Every one of you,” he ordered.  The bell rang and the students began filing into their respective classrooms.

One of the group, Rob Finley, a druggist’s son, spoke up first, “I guess we’re in for trouble.”  The town lawyer’s son, Sam Frederick, had thoughts a little more serious, saying “I sure don’t want any black marks against me.  I’m gunning for a scholarship.” John Cassidy, the well-fed lad whose parents operated a local restaurant, had a more optimistic feeling.  “It can’t be all that bad”, he said, “You know how Callahan makes mountains out of mole hills.” Eric Holson was a preacher’s kid and was rather worried.  He said nothing, but when he related the incident to his parents, his father promptly gave him one of his sermons. The farm boy, Russ Green, didn’t like being detained, but, as he was one of the group, he had to go along. Needless to say, the boys weren’t anxious for classes to dismiss.

After school, the boys seated themselves in the Principal’s Office and the door was closed.  The Principal, Mr. Bigalo, said, “I have here a report from Mr. Callahan that someone deliberately dropped a large piece of chalk on his head this afternoon.  I ask the guilty one to step forward.”  There was shuffling of feet, but no admission. The Principal continued, “Gentlemen, you may not think this is a serious matter, but dropping even a small item like a piece of chalk on a person’s bald head can be a painful experience.  There is tremendous force there, as was proven by Mr. Callahan’s reaction.  We’re not going to let it happen again.” Still, there was no response. The boys were kept waiting about an hour.  Finally, Mr. Bigalo said, “Tomorrow you will all come again, and every day, until the culprit is found.  You may go.” The boys left, grumbling to each other on their way out.

Now, just prior to the incident, pretty Miss Gertie Levelle, arms bulging with books and paraphernalia, had walked to the end of the upper hallway and adjusted her load on the top of the railing. On her way to the Home Economics Room for her sewing class on the first floor, she was hurrying down the stairs with a better grip on her belongings, when Mr. Callahan came running up the stairs to confront the boys. During the sewing class, after cutting out her cloth, Gertie was ready to mark her corduroy fabric.  As she spread it out, she looked around for her marker, but couldn’t locate it anywhere. “Miss Jordan,” Gertie said, “may I borrow your chalk.  I seem to have lost mine.  It was a brand new piece, too.” Miss Jordan was about to open her desk drawer when she suddenly stopped, thought for a moment and said, “Gertie, I think I know where we can find your new chalk.  Let’s go see Mr. Bigalo.”

And the moral of the story is…things aren’t always as they seem.

(For more short stories by Angie Brown, click HERE.)

A Little Olean History

A Little Olean HistoryBradner Stadium

by Angie Brown, Guest Author

In May of 1930, from all over the city, the streets in Olean, NY, were filled with groups of school children marching in orderly fashion.  They were headed for the East Olean Park, where they all assembled to perform at the baseball field, Bradner Stadium.  The civic leaders and school teachers planned something different for this Arbor Day.  They came up with an exciting idea, making this an exciting day.  I was in the eighth grade and a part of it, so I  remember it well. As far as I know, this was the only time this presentation was carried out.

All of the school children from the age of about ten through high school would execute, in unison, simple exercises at the stadium.  The exercises were practiced and perfected in the classrooms.  The children would wear pastel colored dresses and shirts.

On the day of the presentation, the weather was perfect: warm and sunny.  Each teacher led her class through the streets, on their way to the stadium.  Extra police were on duty at every intersection.  Traffic was diverted to one-way and was sparse.  Arriving at the park, the groups were escorted through the short tunnel to their designated places on the field.  With pride and joy, the parents and friends filled the bleachers.  It was a “full house.”

Right on time, the music started and the exercises commenced, a beautiful spectacle of arm raising and foot stepping of hundreds of youngsters, all in unison. The pastel colors added to the beauty and pageantry of the students’ movements on the ball field.

At the close of the program, the audience was encouraged to join in singing the national anthem with the students. An enormous applause ended the gaiety and excitement of the performance.  What an artistic presentation for all the people of Olean to enjoy, and such an encouraging and fulfilling endeavor for the students!

(For more articles by Angie Brown, click HERE)