Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Spirits of Lebanon, Part 7

It was possible to escape from Darrow, legally, for a weekend, if your grades and behavior were good enough. My roommate Dean invited me to his home in the fall of our senior year. But we ignored the rules and restrictions about leaving the campus, and our antics nearly had us expelled.

I couldn't remember the details of this incident, so I e-mailed Dean and asked him for his recollection.
"We were seen by the music teacher, hitchhiking (which was strictly forbidden) on Route 20 on our way to Albany and eventually my home, at that time, in Niskayuna. We had forged leave slips saying that we were going to be picked up and returned by my mother - forged in the sense that my mother didn't pick us up.
"When we returned with my mother, the headmaster questioned us (me, you, and my mother). We lied. You caved under the severe and acute stress. We were sentenced to not being allowed to leave campus for a month or so."

Dean went on to explain that we would most likely have been expelled if the headmaster had not received word that Edward McIlvain Jr., a recent Darrow graduate, had been killed in action in Vietnam on Oct, 18, 1966.
"It seems to me we also had to put our hands to work and our hearts to God for a length of time," Dean wrote.

Yes, I do remember now working off all those penalty hours on weekends, digging a drainage ditch until we could no longer turn the frozen earth.
And now I can recall my grilling by the headmaster. He had a stern, sharply chiseled face, as if sculpted from a pine log with a tomahawk. The anger came is a rosy blush to his cheeks and forehead. I could not have known at the time that I was not the major target of that anger, or of his grief.

Looking back, I see now why we weren't kicked out of school. We had violated his trust and had been dishonest, but our headmaster could not stomach losing another two boys. Not after losing one for good.

No comments: