Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Mr. Slattery (Mack) was the assistant principal at L.B. Clarke. I think his real name was Robert. But he went by Mack. He had an adjoining office with the principal, Mr. Vogt. Both of them had a door that entered into the hallway. But they also had a door which connected their offices together.

I honestly don't know what the duties of an assistant principal are. I suppose I could slam Mr. Vogt and say that Slattery was there to take care of things when Vogt was in a drunken stupor. But I won't sink to that level.

I will say this about Slattery. He was a hell of a lot nicer than Vogt. He was also pretty much bald. See my entry on Kevin Dehne for a reference to his head, when we got busted for leaving school.

I saw Slattery a lot. I spent a lot of time in Mr. Vogt's office getting screamed at. During those pleasant encounters, Slattery would often stand in the door between their offices and listen. When Vogt needed to catch his breath, Slattery would sort of shake his head and say, "Burt, you can't beat the system." That was his favorite line. He used it on everyone. "You can't beat the system." In the midst of being yelled at by Vogt, Slattery would interject that line three of four times. That was generally the extent of his contribtion to the conversation.

At some point in 7th grade, I found myself late for school. Mr. Trembley (my homeroom and first hour teacher) made me go to the office to get a tardy slip. For those of you who went to Clarke, who may have forgotten what a tardy slip looks like, just look down.

So I went into the office. Mrs. Koeppe wasn't there. She must have been out sick. Instead there was some young girl. She looked to be high school age. I got the impression that the school couldn't find anyone right away, and simply borrowed a student from Washington. Needless to say, this girl was completely flustered. She was clearly over her head. I told her that I was late for school, and needed a tardy slip to get back into class. She had no clue. She even said, "I don't know what I'm supposed to do!" It was kind of funny. I directed her to the specific desk drawer where Koeppe kept the slips. I told her that she then had to write my name, the date and time on the slip. She was very grateful for my help. I left one vital piece of information out though. Although I didn't do it on purpose. You see, a tardy slip resulted in a detention - which was to take place the following day, after school. Koeppe kept a notebook and put the names of the students into it. Whoever was on detention monitor duty that week would then take the list and do a roll call with the students after school.

Well the next day, I dutifully showed up in detention. Mr. Slattery happened to be the detention monitor that week. In fact, I had had a detention earlier that week with him. I have an odd memory from that day. At some point, class of 1988's Scott Rudabek was talking. Slattery shut him up with the line, "Mr. Rudabekian, shut the oral cavity." Anyway, back to the current detention - Slattery read off the names of everyone who was supposed to be in detention that day. And of course, my name wasn't on it. Our exchange went like this.

SLATTERY - "Burt, you're not on the list."

ME - "Well, I got a detention yesterday."

SLATTERY - "Who gave it to you?"

ME - "I was late for school. There was some girl in the office."

SLATTERY - "Did she give you a slip?"

ME - "Yes, I showed her where they were."

SLATTERY - "Did she write your name on the list?"

ME - "I don't know."

SLATTERY - "Burt, you just beat the system. You can go home."

So I walked out of the room and exited the school. I kid you not, I actually pumped my fist a few times and even said, "Yes!" I wasn't excited about getting out of detention. I was excited because I had gotten Slattery to tell me that I had beaten the system! All year long, he had repeatedly told me that I couldn't beat the system. That was his mantra. But on this day, I did. I was so proud. I remember telling B.J. Lutterman about that the next day. He was just as excited that someone had "beaten the system" in Slattery's eyes.

Either in 7th grade or 8th grade, Ken Bartz was given the job of collecting the milk money. Slattery had given him the job. I believe Slattery was neighbors with Ken, and knew his parents. But if I'm not mistaken, Ken stole some of that money at some point, and lost his job.

I don't think I've seen Slattery since I left Clarke. I do know that he has retired. I believe he and his wife currently live in Manitowoc. However, Mr. Slattery's son is now a teacher at Clarke. The circle of life continues.


At Wed Oct 25, 09:18:00 PM PDT, Blogger Greg Pagel said...

That's a great story, burt.

I liked Mr. Slattery a lot. He helped me quite a few times. I've run into him once or twice. He remembered me. He's still very pleasant, and still very bald.

At Wed Oct 25, 09:32:00 PM PDT, Blogger the_meff said...

Ditto to Greg. Mack was cool. His job appeared to be to stand outside his office, lean on the doorframe, and nod and salute to every student as they passed by.

Looks like, via nepotism, Mack Jr. has beaten the system as well!

At Thu Oct 26, 08:13:00 AM PDT, Blogger apeman said...



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