Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Mr. Fencl (Doug) was a reading teacher at L.B. Clarke. He was kind of a small man. The two characteristics that stood out on him were his folded chin and his nasal voice.

I first had Fencl in 7th grade. Our class had him for third hour. Fencl was a bit of a pushover. But if you pushed him too far, he would snap. If you read my entry on Kevin Dehne, you'll learn the story of how Fencl repeatedly smashed Kevin's head into the chalkboard. And if you read my entry on B.J. Lutterman, you'll see my story of how Fencl choked me. Yes indeed, in my entire scholastic history, Mr. Fencl is the only teacher that ever choked me. When he finally let go of my neck, he gave me a huge slap across the face for good measure. What a guy!

One can argue that those of us who faced his wrath certainly had it coming. But a more effective argument could be made that teachers simply shouldn't resort to violence against 12 and 13-year-old kids. Oh well.

Some of my favorite memories from Clarke come from Mr. Fencl's class. I wrote about this in Kevin's entry as well. But I can tell it again. Fencl's room was next to Mr. Trembley's. They were divided by a big curtain. A backroom connected the two rooms. When someone got in trouble in class, Fencl would banish us to the backroom. I believe Kevin got banished more than anyone else. But I took a number of turns back there as well. Anyway, when Kevin was banished, he had a habit of climbing up on the shelves, and peaking his head up and looking through the window, out into the classroom. Of course Kevin would then make faces or taunt Fencl - or whatever juvenile thing he could come up with. Of course the majority of the class would laugh. An annoyed Fencl would turn around. But of course Kevin's head would have ducked down by then. And if Fencl tried to go into the backroom to catch Kevin, he'd find Kevin clamly sitting in his desk - having jumped down before he could get back there. I of course took it one step further. Sometimes I would laugh and point even when Kevin wasn't doing anything. Fencl would see me and then try to catch Kevin in the act again. I was a bastard, to be sure. But hell, when you're 12-years-old, that's quality entertainment. It frustrated Fencl to no end.

Sometime during that year, Fencl missed a week of school when his brother suddenly died. I don't know why I remember that.

Sometime during 7th grade, I read an article about Steve Martin. As a kid, Martin apparently had put "Out of order" signs on some of the bathrooms in his school. I thought that was a fabulous idea. It didn't really catch on. But one day in Fencl's class, I placed one of those signs on his pencil sharpener. Fencl knew I had done it, but let it go. He obviously didn't care, seeing as he let the sign stay. Well, sometime in the middle of class, B.J. Lutterman went up to sharpen his pencil. B.J. had no idea that I had placed the sign there. So he started questioning Fencl about what to do. Fencl thought B.J. knew about the origin of the sign. So he got mad at B.J., thinking he was just playing with him. Fencl kept telling B.J. to sit down. But B.J. kept saying that he needed to sharpen his pencil. B.J. had no clue why Fencl was behaving like he was. He was oblivious. Finally B.J. sat down, confused and exasperated.

One other quick memory I have from his class is that we would routinely pass our papers to the person in front of us, and grade them during class. Fencl would then read our names in his gradebook. We would then have to tell him what we'd gotten on our paper. (No lying and cheating EVER went on there. Oh no...) Quite often, we would have two papers graded at a time. So when he called your name, sometimes your grades would be "A, C." And whenever someone had a grade of "A, C" Kevin and I would shout out "D, C." We were obviously paying homage to the band AC/DC.

I must have failed part of Fencl's class that year. Because I found myself in summer school. On the first day, I was happy to see that my partner in crime Kevin was also there. The two of us sat in the hall talking for the first 20 minutes of class, before Fencl happened to wander out and took notice of us. He sent us into class. For the next week or so, anytime Fencl called on Kevin, Kevin would respond with, "Umm... where are we?" Kevin was insistent on doing nothing. And he did it well. Finally Fencl simply kicked him out. I didn't see Kevin again until 8th grade. I on the other hand kicked ass in that summer school class. It was filled with a bunch of idiots, and "dumbed down" to match the profile of the rest of the class. Fencl even commented to me at some point, saying something like, "You're doing so well here. Why did you behave like such an animal during the school year?"

I had Fencl again in 8th grade. I hung out with Mark Schreiber in that class. Dave Kanera was also in there. Dave was annoying as always, trying his best to impress the 7th grade girls who were also in that class. My lasting memories from that class are of Jeff Salstrand spitting on Mark nearly everyday. Class of 1990's Ryan Gilbert was also in that class. Or was it Gus Landt? Perhaps both of them were in there. Anyway, they (or he) used to plead with Mark to complain to Fencl about Jeff's constant spitting habits. Mark never did though. When Jeff wasn't spitting on him, the three of us got along pretty good.

Sometime during the second semester, Fencl got tired of me and removed me from his class, sticking me in Mrs. Mehan's. That was my last encounter with the man. Although I do remember one other incident from that year. From Mehan's room one day, we all heard Fencl go nuts. He wasn't mad. He just got extremely loud and crazy. The entire wing was laughing their asses off. I don't know what came over him that day.

On the last trip that Kevin and I took to Two Rivers, we stopped to see Mr. Franke. Franke told us that Fencl simply got burned out as a teacher, and quit. Instead he got a job in the tire department at Fleet Farm. I believe he's still there today. Although he's probably at or near retirement age. To the best of my knowledge, he still lives in Manitowoc.


At Tue Oct 17, 08:53:00 AM PDT, Blogger Jeff said...

What's interesting is that, on a one on one basis, he was actually a pretty good guy. I think his problem was that he's let himself be a pushover until he reached this volcanic pressure point and when it poppped, people got choked.

Either way, he lived a block away from me back on 37th street and, as I said, off premises, he was always a really decent dude.

Hopefully his time at LBC didn't leave any lasting scars. But then I guess that can be said for all of us.

At Tue Oct 17, 04:12:00 PM PDT, Blogger Greg Pagel said...

I think being a teacher is a brutal job if you don't have the right temperament. Obviously, Fencl didn't know how to just "roll with it." All the insults and abuse from students got to him -- he took it personally.

Dig this -- last week, I noticed a student reading a novel while I was giving a lecture. Drove me nuts -- bugged me all day. If I had to deal with that, and much worse, all day every day for 20 years, you'd see me on the 6 o'clock, tell you what. I can't believe Doug Fencl never killed anybody.

At Tue Oct 17, 05:04:00 PM PDT, Blogger Brandon P. said...

I seem to remember Staudt was someone who really got under Mr. Fencl's skin. I can't remember what it was. Either it was a nickname he came up with or an impersonation.

Staudt, you out there? What was it?

At Tue Oct 17, 06:36:00 PM PDT, Blogger the_meff said...

Man you wanna' talk impersonations, Scott Jacklin had Fencl down to an art form.

Jacklin was the Fred Travelina/Rich Little of LBC. If he's not doing impersonations on open mic night somewhere, he's tragically missing his calling.

At Tue Oct 17, 09:41:00 PM PDT, Blogger scott i-da-ho said...

Well close...I perform for coworkers, I can do every manager, heh and most are women. And my newest hire and I can do a mean Hannity & Colmes.

At Wed Oct 18, 04:08:00 AM PDT, Blogger Greg Pagel said...

Damn, I'd love to see that.

Scott-- ever heard of YouTube?

At Wed Oct 18, 06:21:00 AM PDT, Blogger TWORIVERSWALRUS said...

YouTube - I like it. That's a cool idea. I'd link it. How about a video of him doing his teacher impressions also? He did a wicked Stodola and Franke.

Do it!

At Wed Oct 18, 07:37:00 AM PDT, Blogger jenny said...

does anybody remember fencl chasing after bj around the room?

At Wed Oct 18, 07:46:00 AM PDT, Blogger TWORIVERSWALRUS said...

B.J. - was it sort of a subdued chase? Like did he calmly reach for B.J. (not necessarily in an angry way) only to have him back away? Then did it escalate into a larger chase? I have a vague memory of such a thing.

I do remember him chasing Kevin though. It was moments after the head-bashing incident. Kevin fleed the scene, with Fencl in hot pursuit. I recall Kevin whizzing past me, just as Fencl reached out to snare him. But Fencl's fingers were only able to scrape the back of Kevin's jean jacket. Kevin got into the hall, and Fencl left him alone. Kevin spent the rest of the hour in the library.

At Wed Oct 18, 09:15:00 AM PDT, Blogger jenny said...

yup, that's the chase. bj even jumped up on my desk and hopped a few more before leaping unto the floor and i believe fencl finally got him by the hood though it was a very drwed out chase, i couldn't believe fencl didn't give up. man i feel for the guy.

At Wed Oct 18, 12:56:00 PM PDT, Blogger Brad Strouf said...

Why does the nickname "Fogey" keep popping into my head when I think of Fencl...? Was this his "nickname"?

If noone else recalls that, just pretend this comment never existed...thanks.

At Wed Oct 18, 01:59:00 PM PDT, Blogger TWORIVERSWALRUS said...

Are you sure you're not thinking of Mr. Wolff - and his nickname of "Pogey?"

At Wed Oct 18, 03:13:00 PM PDT, Blogger Brad Strouf said...

No...I remember that nickname too. For some damn reason "Fogey Fencl" keeps coming back to me...

I drank alot in the '90's, so who knows...

At Thu Oct 19, 08:06:00 AM PDT, Blogger Greg Pagel said...

Foggy Dencl. A spoonerized version of Douggie Fencl.

See also: Meff Jesserman, Preg Gagel, etc.

At Fri Jan 14, 09:12:00 AM PST, Blogger Debby90 said...

I often wondered what happened to Mr Fencl (and if he remained a teacher! I remember his daughter Lori was in my graduating class, they lived next door to Diana Rank (her mom was the local girlscout leader for our age group).... anyhow... I remember Mr Fencl and Paul Schamurak (sp?) in a knock down, drag out fight, rolling around throwing punches... I remember how shocking it was to see a teacher so completely lose it!!
If something like that happened today, it would be all over the news!!! lol
(I also remember Hauf choke slamming Guy Paider up against the lockers with his feet dangling off the ground, and all I could think was "dang, for a little guy he is pretty strong!!" lol)


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