12/28/09 - posted by candis smyk hurlbut
Paul, I have a bit more on the Wheat/Halbasch blow-up, as well as the alleged "fist fight" details from Mr. Wheat himself, related to me years later.

First, the Wheats (Mrs. W. became an ex-Mrs. not too long afterwards; I don't know if this incident contributed to the dissolution)had a gathering at their home. Among those attending was Mr. Reinosa (science teacher). Apparently there was some political discussion, and Mr. R.--originally from Puerto Rico--a) Praised Fidel Castro, and b) Was very negative about then-President Kennedy. Mr. W. did not like either opinion, and some words were exchanged, Mr. R. was told to leave, and was slugged by Mr. W. before he left. During the next school day, Mr. R. gave details to most or all of his classes. Principal Perino was very Lowell image conscious, didn't want anyone to rock the boat, and arranged Mr. W.'s transfer to Lincoln, beginning the following September.

I don't know what Mr. H. said to Mr. W., but apparently some words were exchanged, and W. furiously walked away, with H. calling, "Now, Charlie, Charlie" after him. Some students witnessed the stomping off incident. I do know H. was rather reactionary, and as one of his students I heard racist comments, and he ridiculed students who were anti-capital punishment, Democrats, or held liberal views concerning current topics. Some of his comments would not be allowed today.

W. was a rather pleasant person--I never had him as a teacher, but I knew almost everyone anyway--so, R. & H. both must have been really provoking to have him blow up on those occasions. R. was very popular, for reasons I have never understood. I have a rather quirky personality (Myers-Briggs ENFP) and often am unamused and irritated by a particular personality type. (My late husband and I often shared the opinion, after we had encountered people with that personality type, they did not impress either of us in a positive way.) I was disappointed after anticipating a great personality when I was in one of R.'s classes, but the feeling may have been mutual!

There are a few stories--not gossip, the truth--about those three men it would not be appropriate for me to relate here. However, Wheat had more class than the other two many times over. I was taking some summer classes at City College and ran into Mr. Wheat in the cafeteria. He remembered me, and we got into a conversation. There was some project there he and other teachers from different schools were involved in; several joined us. (One of them had been one of my Hoover teachers.) I wound up in that coffee break group many times that summer, and that was how I finally heard what had happened. (W. was amazed that I had heard one of the several stories I'm not relating here.) I also ran into him at SF State later. By the last time I saw him, he was becoming bitter, and was disillusioned over the politics involved in the SF schools.

What became of R. I do not know, and am not really interested in finding out.

Principal P. shared the same fate. What goes around comes around is a trite, but truthful saying. His rigid autocracy was hated by almost all the teachers. If he couldn't transfer someone, he would reassign them to drivers' ed classes. This backfired when one of the out-of-favor teachers raised holy moly, and the newspapers heard about it. Also, despite his attempts to stifle any publicity, a few other incidents had already caught the attention of the press, and SFUSD executive administration. So, he was transferred to a desk job right in the middle of the semester! I had a friend who was student teaching at Lowell when that came down, and she told me the absolute jubilation when he was gone was incredible.

As we both know, H. managed to retire from Lowell. I was amazed that such a #%$&** could appear to be such a nice old man at last year's reunion! I did mention his worst nightmare must be coming true (I was referring obliquely to the '08 election), which only brought a confused stare.

As for the rest of you dear readers, I have a question, especially for the Catholic survivers. Did any such feuds, fisticuffs, or politics occur at your respective schools! Or were the respective faculties too busy trying to stay on top of the creative activities previously confessed by some of you? Please hurry and let us know before Woody is the next one to blow up and quickly delete all of the above, PDQ.

And, everyone thought teachers were so proper. Tsk, tsk!
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