The Way We Were – 1942-45 & 1967-70

Part 33A - By Warren Thomas

When teenage hormones and a failure to exercise common sense begin to bubble and boil, who knows what the future holds? My mother never knew what was going on, the superintendent didn’t know, neither did the one other staff member, Mrs. Genevieve Dent, nor the majority of the other students. I don’t recall that my fellow classmate and sister, Ramona, said anything.
High school began quietly and without fanfare the fall of 1944. America was in the third year of combat in World War II. Eligible young men were being drafted or were enlisting to join an eventual total of 12 million men and women in uniform fighting Japan and Germany on opposite sides of the globe. National loyalty was high. Newspapers reported that 16-year-old males quit high school, lying about their ages to join a branch of service. Mustached Hitler and slant-eyed Japs were equally despised and worthy of every effort to defeat them.
On Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, I was 12. Nine months later, I was 13 and a whiskerless freshman in Forestburg High School. I had not yet been deemed cannon fodder by the military. In the sheltered confines of FHS, two superintendents in my first two years brought me to August of 1944. Fred Shaw, father of popular dance band director Don Shaw, lasted a few months. Too old for the game, he was a warm body in the superintendent’s chair until a car accident finished his career.  He was replaced by a college girl, who took over his two or three math classes. She might have acted as superintendent.
While it was musical chairs in the office, something else was happening in the commercial room. This occurrence began at the first of the 1944 school year, but was actually less a thing than a person. The most shivering aspect was that she was to be the commercial teacher, and I had signed up to take typing! Did wonders ever cease? There she stood in un-assumed regal splendor beside the library desktop while Mr. Shaw made first-day announcements. Had I been a callow 13 or 14-year-old freshman, I’d likely have looked once, yawned and dug out a rubber band to test for later use. However, I was a 15-year-old junior, now an upper classman, becoming a man of the world and quite aware that the female gender was less the nuisance, which it had been at other times.
What was obvious right then was that she was a dark brown-haired, distractingly pretty, five-foot, seven-inch parcel of—I think we called it—WOW! What was not obvious then was that she was daughter of the owner of the Howard Hardware Store and had two younger brothers, Elmer and Donald. What was to become obvious later was that she was a recent graduate of Sioux Falls Nettleton Business College with an emphasis in commercial subjects. What became obvious on a regular basis was that she was likeable, friendly, capable, knew her subject matter and, best of all, seemed to tolerate young hounds only six or seven years younger than her 22 years. And her name was Marian Koehn (Kane).
To be prolonged…

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