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The Travails of Edward Pershey

If you are really lucky you will, at least once in your life, run into a person whose presents has pre-empted all of your future. In Lowell, Ed Pershey fit into that category. Everything he did had been done before. One piece at a time was fast enough for him to make his journey. Ed was in that proverbial class by himself. He could dress people to mimic being alive in the 1800’s, or he could take a small piece of pottery or glass and tell you where it came from, often co-authoring his idea to someone else who had not even known he or she was in the running.

When I met Ed, I was a guest at a historic symposium located on the grounds of the great Boott Mill. He had an actor protray a frontier woman from a surrounding town. She was terribly upset that her daughter was leaving the farm to work in the mills. Her entire life was in flux. How was she supposed to pay the farm expenses with a lazy husband and limited tools? God only knew and he was not telling.

Ed used the opportunity to introduce introduce us to the vicissitudes caused by a child growing up and leaving the home. There were still expectations even when the child was in his or her twenties. Ed brought out a few of pieces of ceramic pottery or class and pointed out those areas which were the result of skilled labor and which were playthings.

His knowledge of history was immense. Imagine a child having a favorite toy and leaving dirty remnants of it in a cottage. That was Ed’s push. Few left that day learning nothing. Most left learning something.

Ed Pershey was not the only notable in Lowell. Many students, educators, administrators, and others would swim through Ed Pershey’s magical time. By the time he was done, the Boott Mills would stand on its own two feet. I would stand as an honest museum. advocate that day though as the period that time forgot. He first welcomed all of us student-teachers (students because that is what we were and teachers because that is what we would do). He asked many questions. We were in the middle of a broken down counting house, and we were being asked questions about how the average farmer lived (very poorly we believed) and what changes were coming aroung the bend to assist the smallest of purchasers.

Ed Pershey would best be played on stage by Frances Cabot Lowell, whose most remarkable attribute was how involved he became in merchandising in Lowell, Massachusetts. They both loved picking out items to sell at their huge mills, or small shops. Frank Lowell, as he prefered to be called, traded in almost everything that he could afford. Ed Pershey traded in those items available in college and high school demonstrations. We would choose any given Saturday or Sunday and check out what the various historical or scientific shows were exhibiting. We often became judges. Ed wanted many teachers to participate in these shows. Quite few would.

The first day I met Ed Pershey, he boomed at me « Welcome fellow teacher! » He sat; me down on a chair surrounded by other teachers, and he asked how many of us could see ourselves designing the Boott Mills. We thought it was some sort of trick and refused to be drawn into it. Finally he asked me. He did not know that I had been the brother-in-law of the late Paul Tsongas. The nuns did not tell him that. Thank goodness for the nuns. I managed to keep my inferiority complex in check for the entire day. However, one of the Sisters of Notre Dame, managed to offer that I may have some experience in History, I mentioned that I did. The man asked me where I would place the Loom Room.. I said that there was only one logical location for it – on the first floor. He asked why, and I said that the looms were too heavy. He asked me to extrapolate and I said that the looms would be about a ton each and the vibration would be incredible. He said that the looms would be about one ton each and the vibration be the equivalent of cars coming onto the floors above. That, we decided,

was unacceptable.. So the concrete floor was born. Then Ed asked where the Counting House should be. We picked minor offices for the first and second floor. Then Ed asked for the location of the main floor, the floor of the woven materials and miniature looms, as well as the offices. We chose the third floor. It was the most spacious and sunniest. It also had beautiful floors. The fourth floor was for utilitarian uses.

Ed and I spent close to two years together, We designed much of that building. Ed had his PhD. and had been the designer of many of the museum pieces for the Thomas Edison Museum in Melno Park, NJ. He went on to other design opportunities. I learned more from Ed than from any other person. Maybe not from Paul Tsongas, but certainly within that reign. I thought I would talk about a few of these items. They were important to Lowell, at least as important as the « rag-man » of Lowell. We have to remember everybody. To do less would be to forget our many friends, families, and children, that make up todays Lowell. It would be to forget Ed Pershey. That would be a sin. Let’s not forget Jack Kerouac either. Lowell is famous because of the people who live (d) here.

The City-Wide Parent Council of the 1980’s

I introduced the current Superintendent to the activities of the City-Wide Parent Council in the 1980’s. He looked at some of the entries and stated that some of what the CWPC was doing was better in the hands of the School Committee. I disagreed, but he had a point. We determined what the look of the city’s gym uniform would be. We introduced our members to former Superintendents, who wanted to meet with the CWPC , and actually did meet with us. We set the spot for the graduation, and other small items. I have to say that there were some items were more of a part of our lives back in the 1980’s then there are now. Part of that is the Tsongas factor, Paul Tsongas was a real person who set some goals for the CWPC and people followed his commanding lead. That affected each person in Lowell to some degree. It was oftentimes a welcome ascertian.

Let us forget the Senator and future Presidential candidate for now, after all, his influence is in the past. Most of us may not be able to do the work, but with pressure we still manage to do well. Many turn to writing to heighten the understanding of the sum. When I first started writing this blog, the Google people kept track of my replies. I had over 960,000 replies to my blog. I asked a Google executive how many people actually read my blog, certain that it had to be more than a few more. They said, based on replies, I had been read by maybe two million people. That made me feel good.

I asked a relative why so many people would be interested in a small blog. She said it was because I wrote of a happier time, when they were building up the school system, using a format that probably was determined by the first curriculum in our meager existence. Everything, including the Lowell School Department was new and exciting. That set the tone. People wanted to know how our school system was formed and who formed it. Certain things just cropped up.

White’s Pedagogy was used on mandated teacher meetings on Saturdays. Greek was taught in its fullest extent. Mathematics was determined to be a major requirement. Physical training was part of most of the curriculum of the time. History was more of a civics class than a history class. Everything was so new. We controlled our schools to the nth. degree.

School teachers were required, whether male or female, to get to the one-room schoolhouse and stoke the fire for the day. It was to be warm in the room. Physical therapy of a sort was expected. Children were to be taught to the best level. If they had problems, they did not have to attend school.

Shakespeare was the person who intoned « much ado about nothing. » Charles Dickens spent a night in Lowell around the 1840’s. Lowellians, due to their incredible experiment in industrial weaving, were an audience that many saw fit to emulate. The mill girls were hot. They saw Dickens and they also met Abraham Lincoln, President Andrew Jackson, and other presidents. Lowell was also hot.

When I am writing these blogs, I often remember that a blog is a four letter word. Education changed, less for me than for my family. I grew up in a town of twenty-seven people. I was a small person when I was introduced to my father’s introduction to education. One of the first things he did was fire a woman who reportedly could not keep the class quiet. He rehired her later in a different town. The fact that there were twelve students in the country school house did not bother him. The teacher had to go. Later, in Lowell, he fired 161 permanent substitutes in Lowell, including Kay Stoklosa. Strangely enough the two persons became friends. They were catapulted to the first and first place finishes in the City Council and School Committee races and Kay came to my house to speak to the press. She talked to me and I enjoyed my time with her. She was quite a woman.

At the CWPC, getting back to that, there were two very well-known invitees. We entertained both Henry Mroz, Superintendent of Schools, and Patrick Mogan, mogul and Superintendent of Schools. It was an exciting two years at the helm of the CWPC. I got into the organization because John Abraham of the Morey School, asked me to join. I did and was soon the Chairman. It was an interesting time. One item that we pushed was equity. It was extremely important that each person was treated equitably.

This was the decade when what was then 3,000 Cambodians moved to Lowell. Others soon joined them. They were treated well, as far as I knew, by the most recent immigrant group, the Greeks, and all of the rest of us. I had a bit of an eye-opening circumstance at that time. In an unremembered house, in an normal side of town, I rented out an apartment that I had lived in to a minority. Groups gathered at the corner down the street. One observer threw something through her window. I had to repair the window and straighten things out. It took days to get tempers down. I never forgot that lesson in equity. She came to me years later and thanked me for being so fair. I did not think anything of it.

I grew up for a while in Harvey, Illinois. When I lived there, people lived in fear for their style of living. It was a very tense time. I learned from tough kids about what was acceptable. It was not acceptable to be racist. We all learned that.

I am deeply committed as a School Committee candidate to making sure that equity is taught in the Lowell Public School system. I call my best friend in Kentucky, who happens to be a minority, when I am asked questioned about racism. He is a tremendously talented and reasonable. He pointed out that he and I had been best-friends for over fifty years. A half century of a best friend who keeps me committed to being a fair man. I hope that I raised my kids right. I believe that I did.

I am very interested in preserving older buildings in Lowell. I am writing a book featuring granite and brick buildings that are over one hundred years old. It includes some brick buildings but is mostly focused on granite buildings. It will be mostly pictures, some black and white and some color. It will include the builder, but probably not the newest owner. I have not worked that out yet. I did collect a brick from St. Peter’s Church on the corner of Highland Street and I have kept it near my piano in my home. I also picked a brick from the original Boott Counting House in Boott Mills years ago. I keep that brick too.

Much of this essay has been about my City-Wide Parent Council time. I underwent a heart MRI a few months again, and my health is doing very well. My heart has basically fixed itself. No problems with my health. That has made me more of a serious candidate. I walk three to five miles per day. I have over 3,000 books in my personal library. That is very satisfying to me. Mostly classics on tap.

I realize that we pay the Superintendent to work in the curriculum. I understand curriculum, and my degree is in that area. The School Committee supervises the curriculum. I understand my wife, who tells me not to be a comedian. She says I don’t know how to smile. Which is probably true.

So that is my story this month. I am very pleased with how things are going. I hope that they continue to go well. I have not completely finished all of my leafleting but I am working on it. Nice talking to you.

Well Kept Photo Journals and Monarch Butterflies

Today I had a number of topics to write about. Mostly, I am writing about my children. Two are First Responders, two are parents, and most have or are completing their degrees. I want to give special notice to my daughter Chloe, who was cited by Rady Mom and the Massachusetts House of Representatives for completing her degree at UMass-Lowell. I am really proud of all of my children. The only one who doesn’t have a degree yet is in his last year. When he graduates all of my children will have a degree. You cannot be a parent and do better than that.

I am trying my best to get on top of this new computer, but, and don’t tell John McDonough but I am frequently stuck. My son
Rory, and my daughter Chloe get me out of trouble. Frequently is a nice term for interminable. Rory is the best, Chloe got me out of a jam during the Democratic Party caucus the other day. I was on mute and Chloe ran in, hit a couple of keys and saved me. Tell Judith Durant that I got the papers into Gus Bickford and Ward 4 has its players all lined up. I have been drawing and painting a number of Lowell scenes, and my next one is the steam power building on Market Street.

We have to save that building because many do not realize that it was what took over for the canals in the 1880’s. People like Jack London, before he became famous, shoveled tons of coal into that productive fire and creative steam came out. In my last campaign for School Committee, I used that smokestack as my background. There is a lot of history at that spot. Lowell has a tendency to deny that people are going to destroy smokestacks and mill buildings. Once I made a time to meet with Fred Faust at the « Omni » building and when we got there there was no building. Jim Cooney, the famous insurance magnate, had torn down the building and replaced it with condominiums. My thought was why didn’t you save the building and turn it into condo’s. I appreciate all that the Cooneys did but you have to save what makes Lowell – well, Lowell.

I have seen four mill buildings destroyed since I moved here. Those people who deserve credit are those people who took over the mill buildings and made them into modern shells. Like the Thorndike Buildings. That was an expensive alteration and it was done beautifully. So is the old mill building which was the gym for the boxing ring,

I remember a couple of years ago when a murderer hid in a car’s trunk. I am situated across the street from the St. Margaret’s Church and the parking lot was full of police vehicles. I have pictures, specifically of one policeman who stationed himself and his rifle right in front of our sidewalk. I have a picture of a policeman with a rifle patrolling in front of my house. It is a good picture and it brings back a lot of memories. The murderer apparently shot himself in the trunk with his hand sticking out of it. I was glad they caught him. He was literally a few feet from my neighborhood.

I once ran a pretty good-sized Landscaping Company. It was called, of course, Jim Peters’ Landscaping Inc. I had many clients and it kept me busy from 2006 to 2016. I learned a great deal about plants and the judicious placement of them on a person’s property. In the Fall, I did Fall Clean-ups, in the Winter I did snowblowing. In the Spring and Summer I cleaned and mowed. I had too much business to deal with it alone so I hired a person to help out. I needed a bigger mower, but I had the largest walking mower you could buy. I did many large yards. I learned to balance my own books, fix my own mowers, and hire my brother. It was difficult but taught me a great deal about budgets, which will come in handy when I get on the School Committee. That and Lefty’s taught me more than Wang or Jordan Marsh ever could. I did love Jordan Marsh though, and I ran the Basement Store so well that I practically doubled its first year’s profits. I ran eleven departments, but my favorite was Medical Uniforms. I ran into many women and men who needed uniforms for our three hospitals and twenty or so nursing homes. It was my most profitable department. And because of the wonderful customers, I was promoted as an Auditor to the Jordan Marsh Executive Center. Some of our older readers may remember that place on Route 3 in Boston, or Auburndale.

I love History, especially in Lowell. I especially love the Canal House by the Falls on the Merrimack River. I learned that the person who wants to occupy the house by the Canal House has to come up with tens of thousands of dollars to keep it in good shape. They can live there for a long time, but they are responsible for the upkeep. I learned that from the state offices. The Canal House is superintended by the National Park. The yellow house next to it is watched over by the lessees. An interesting choice of a home in the most well-traveled walk on the Merrimack River.

I love New England. Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Those are my favorite spots. I have pictures of my children fishing in Maine near the ocean. They never seem to catch anything but that does not seem to matter too much. I have a beautiful picture of a sunset in Maine that is so nice it is on display in the hallways and rooms of the LTC, the television channel in downtown Lowell. The picture is hanging on one of the display walls in the studio. Actually, not the studio wall but the main wall upstairs. It is the picture of the sun at eveningtide. A seagull is transgressing in the light of the sun. It is beautiful, so nice that I gave one print of an 11 by 14 to each of my children and to my mother. Hopefully they still enjoy it. I have other pictures hanging in the same place. Those include the downtown steam engine, one of which shows the crane lifting the engine at its installment. There are other pictures too.

I did my own marketing for my landscaping business. I am a firm believer in door-to-door marketing. Someone asked me once why I did that and I simply told them it was simple politics, Politics 101. It saves me fifty cents per letter mailed and it has a good return. I have not too many brochures left from that marketing. I also used Political Science 101 to excuse my bent to place cards on cars. I have to say, that works too.

One of the many benefits of being close to the Tsongas clan, is the opportunity to vacation on occasion by the ocean. I have many paintings inspired by visiting members of the Tsongae clan done at the ocean. I love the ocean and the opportunity Paul and Niki gave me to vacation in Chatham shall never be forgotten. I have sunsets, sunrises, and just good times at many bays on the Atlantic Ocean. It has been wonderful and I cannot thank Paul and Niki enough. I also have to thank Mary and Gil Hollenbach for allowing us to swim in their part of the ocean in Gloucester. It has been very good for my paintings and very comfortable for my wife and children.

Monarch butterflies are dying off faster than we can raise them. Their beautiful color as adults adds to their being collected. Do not kill off Monarch butterflies because I am afraid that our current science shows them to be close to extinction. That is a true fact, shared by the bees. When we spray for mosquitoes we kill monarchs and bees that have important work to do in nature. Enjoy them, use a good camera to shoot their picture, but do not kill them.

Speaking of nature, I have, like everyone, have run past many animals killed by cars on superhighways. My most memorable one was a female moose hit by a truck on 93 in the mountains of Franconia Notch in New Hampshire. It was so big that it was stretched out on the highway and was longer than my van, a Volkswagen van. It was the longest creature I have ever seen and it was firmly dead. Seeing it made me feel ill.

I have Parkinson’s disease. I was once told by a Ph.D that Parkinson’s would keep me from writing, That has not been totally true but enough to make me wonder why I have more trouble with grammar than I used to. I apologize for my grammar difficulties. Hopefully, this too will pass, as Shakespeare said. Parkinson’s is very difficult to live with and I have done better than many. Supposedly, my grammar will get worse. I hope not. I have had many doctors tell me that the Parkinson’s shows up in a variety of ways. Trouble walking up the steps, trouble walking down the steps. The time that I fell in a horrific manner. That type of thing.

In 1992 I had the chance to be involved in a Presidential campaign. It was for Paul Tsongas and I did the farming piece, speeches, and I found the first President to have cancer. That was listed by Peter Jennings as Ronald Reagan but it was actually Grover Cleveland. I found it in a book called « The Diseases of Presidents » which went back to George Washington. Paul Tsongas, knowing my prediliction for History (I was a History teacher), asked me if any Presidents had cancer. I said yes, and he said « I know about Reagan. » I said it was Grover Cleveland and he smiled broadly. « Can you prove it, » he asked. I went to the car and gave him the book. In it was Grover Cleveland.

That night, I was watching television and heard and saw Peter Jennings say that the only President to have cancer was Ronald Reagan. I called Paul, he called ABC News, and they stated that it was Grover Cleveland. I felt like a million bucks. I had overturned a major player.

I went to Maryland with a large group of Lowellians, including Attorney Michael Gallagher, and others. Mike was fantastic. On Election Night, we carried Maryland. Paul called me and said, « You took Maryland and (another state) and I lost Illinois and Florida. How did that happen. I told him I had no idea. He chuckled and hung up.

I have served on the « Mayor’s Committee on Tourism, » where Marty Meehan and I spent much time talking about politics. Marty was officially Mayor Rourke’s Secretary. I had tutored him on Paul Tsongas’ rise to power in 1977, I believe. I know that I tutored him and I think it was on Paul’s rise to power. I served on the Zoning Board, thinking that I could rewrite history and keep historical sites from being torn down, which was not the role of the Zoning Board, so I went to another City Manager appointment, but I was holding down a WCAP show and I could not make the meetings. I left WCAP after two years. I was on the Parish Council at St. Margaret’s of Scotland Church. I was with the Cub Scouts and the Boy Scouts. And, I was on television. City Life and Peters’ Principles. Peters’ Principles was also the name of my radio show. I was on the Teacher’s Committee at the Tsongas Center, as was my wife. A full calendar.

Finally, I was the partner, with my wife, of Vicki’s Fabrics for Windows, which I still run. I spread those brochures while passing out my brochures for Jim Peters for School Committee. I thought I would do better in the original run but I was too nervous to do it well. This year is better, I intend to run on my Chairmanship of the Citywide Parent Council which I oversaw with Superintendent Henry Mroz and Patrick Mogan. I intend to work closely with those people involved with Project Learn. I intend to stress my experiences and my teaching as a young professor pro-temp at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. I intend to stay close to my friends Phil Shea, John McDonough, Cliff Krieger, and Daniel Barrett and others who have helped me out and oversaw my race for School Committee last time. I want to continue to work with Greenpeace and the ACLU. I want to continue building my 3+thousand book library in my home. I want to enjoy my infrequent visits by the owl who lives outside and sometimes inside. His name is Abe after the silently sitting Abe Lincoln in the Lincoln Monument.

I have a lot of things to say.

Schools and Testing

Testing is a strong way we have as parents and educators of seeing whether or not our students have successfully measured up to our expectations. That is all that it is. I remember, \reading, as a teenager, about a student who was in a rural one room schoolhouse, and was slated for her first test, that she was too nervous to take the test. Instead she wanted to opt out of it and skip being educated forever. Her teacher, understanding her trepidation, explained to her that a test was nothing more than a challenge, and that she had dealt with many challenges being raised as then oldest child on a farm. She had to milk the cows, feed the poultry, and keep the farm looking well. In addition, her mother had passed, and she had to take up the rearing of the younger children.

Thinking a test a challenge was a major step. She could handle challenges and testing was a challenge worth handling. After weighing all of her options, she decided to take the test. It was an exclusive test, designed to weed out all of the students who could not do daily schoolijng

and homework. She aced it; She scored a perfect one hundred. She went on to become a country doctor. She felt wonderful, but she knew she could not have done it without her teacher’s backing. She worked hard at academics for the rest of her life. She handled it.

Every child should look at a test as a challenge. When I was a Junior in High School, I was scheduled for a test in AP History. I thought to myself that testing for college was something that I just could not do. I took the test because Mrs. Kealy told me to. I scored high in the six hundreds, close to seven hundred, which was the perfect score. No one was more surprised than I. It got me into Political Science at college. My first report was on the winning ways of Paul Sheehy and Connie Kiernan as State Representatives. I aced that class. Connie Kiernan was happy, I was happy. I went into college thinking that I was going to fail and shovel hamburgers for my entire life. In truth, I got straight « A »s. I owed it all to Mrs. Kealy for having the good sense to see me as a good History student.

So what’s the point. Get straight « A’s. »s. Teachers expect you to get straight A’s for the rest of your school days. I would not have gotten my marriage if I was a « D » student. Testing is a challenge. It is not a statement that you cannot do it. If I can do it, anybody can do it.

And thanks to Connie Kiernan, who asked me why Political
Science. I told him that I would go to Law School. I took the test but at that time I was going to the University of Lowell, not UMass-Lowell, as an education student, and I had three young boys of our own. Law school was not in my cards. I have never regretted it.

Getting back to testing, There are many types of tests. The two most prominent are the Achievement tests, which I am was taking for Mrs. Kealy. And there are the Intelligence tests. According to Dr. Donald Ary, the Acheivement tests are the tests which set values on the « effectiveness of instructional methods (the) dependent variable is achievement. » Achievement tests are the most widely used tests in educational research. They test the mastery and proficiency of individuals in different areas of knowledge. In short, in my experience they are the History tests. They tested my knowledge of History. They are teacher or researcher-made.

In addition, there are the intelligence tests. These measure performance in specific areas. They « attempt to measure the subject’s ability to perceive relationships, solve problems, and apply knowledge in a variety of contexts. » (ibid.) They should not be considered as measures of innate or « Pure » intelligence. « Intelligence » has been replaced by « scholastic aptitude » tests. This means they are designed to predict school performance. MCAS tests would be an example.

One of the drawbacks of this test is the fact that they are subjective. Some educators have are useful and generally valid for predicting school success. but you have to keep in mind that these test are subjective. When the educational system in Massachusetts first introduced these tests, they jumped to the conclusion that these tests were superior to any other type of testing. Later interpretations showed that these tests had a problem. College students were correcting them and they were applying their prejudices to each paper, So, if student A was better than Student B. Student B would suffer.

Wechsler tests are divided into subtests and were designed in 1939. They test IQ and nonverbal IQ. They are still used, which might be a drawback, as two scores for each subject. It might not be fair to continue to use them. Their answers are dated. Various superintendents should be questioned on whether or not these are still valid. After all, they may be used but they may have a problem with the examinees performance on specific tasks.

When I was Chairman of the Citywide Parent Council, we had a subcommittee on testing. We found that there were wide varieties of differences on student testing. It is our duty as parents to extract the wheat from the chafe. We have to assume that our School Committee members do not know everything that they should know about testing. They are, after all, just parents. We owe our passing of knowledge to our kids.

School Superintendents in Lowell

It has been my pleasure to review the tenure of the Lowell School Superintendents and come up with some basic conclusions. The first is, being the head of the School system was a sure way to fail. Most of our superintendents lasted a minimal three years. Some lasted for longer but only two lasted over twenty years. Those two were Hugh J. Molloy and Vincent McCartin. Hugh Molloy lasted twenty years while Vincent McCartin lasted thirty five years. The current Superintendent remarked that he wanted to last as long as McCartin. So did my father but he realized that he had to gain tenure if he wanted a long-term position. He realized that he had to certify thirty one people or fire them. Most got fired, even though they were politically connected.

Let’s go through the list. It starts with Pastor Theodore Edson. He was voted School Committee Chairman for the first years from 1826 to 1858. He also took it upon himself to serve as the first Superintendent. It was a male supremacy situation. He served in it until they hired George W. Shattuck in 1859. Mr. Shattuck lasted for five years. Mr. Greenhalge, who became the Governor of Massachusetts, stated that his most enjoyable elective office was being on the Lowell School Board. They called it a Committee. That sounded more official.

Abner J. Phipps took over the superintendency in 1864. It is needless to say that he saw many of his men go to war, especially in 1864 and 1865, but nowhere does it say that he left the office because of that pressure. He lasted for three years. He was out by 1867. He was replaced by Charles Morill from 1867 to 1885, a formative twelve years. He was replaced by Charles H. Conley who served until 1886. That was a mere year. George F. Lawton served from 1886 to 1891. Arthur F. Whitcomb served from 1891 to 1912. We already discussed Hugh J. Molloy and Vincent McCartin. Combined they served 21 years and 35 years. He was followed by Wayne R. Peters, my father. He had one of the difficult periods. He had to decertify thirty one people. They were all politically connected. Peters spent his time the first year, getting the staff certified. The state oversaw the operation.

Wayne Peters personally built the high school library with a little help from a couple of custodians. He also enlisted the high school PTO’s help. I helped cut boards for stacks of books. I still do that at home. It did not ingratiate him to the unions. He was seen as anti-union. He came from a state that used parental help. I believe that my best friend of over fifty years helped out in efforts in Harvey, Illinois. In his years as Superintendent, it was common to use parental assistance. He did not use these people to spite the others. He was just carrying on a practice. He saw no fault in it. Unions attacked him for certification, and building a big library. It lasted about ten years.

Peters was very popular with the general public. He grabbed his School Committee seat by over 5500 votes over Kay Stoklosa. Kay jokingly told me that my father had beaten her totals in the City Council race. « Jimmy, he constantly beats me by coming in first. » Politics dictated that he would come in fifth the following election. Certain people had slated him for defeat that year.

Peters found the appeal by the teachers for testing. He helped design some of he tests. He regularly went to football games, especially the rivalry between Lowell and Lawrence. He bought me a suit so I would look like the Superintendent’s son. He bought a home/mansion in the Highlands because he could buy it for two-thirds the price of two-thirds of a Belvidere mansion. I had all of my friends living in Belvidere so I was not happy.

I wrote articles and Letters to the Editors of the Lowell Sun.. Most stuck up for my father although I did write about Vietnam which to me was a hell-hole. I remember the Armory, stocked with cannons. I remember taking my sister to the Strand. I loved the chandelier. I shopped at Talbot’s, McQuades, Bon Marcbe, Lull and Hartford, Prince Stationery, I was living the life.

Soon, everything crashed. An errant School Board came in with the intention of firing my father. The people did not seem to be for it but they had voted for these people and my father lost his job. It was the cost of success, My father went to a Superintendency in Holbrook for seventeen years, gloriously. Before he left, he passed me my diploma and got a standing ovation. He remembered that better than anything.

That was my father’s tenure. It was lasting and it was full. I would recommend Lowell to everybody.

Hugh McDonald took over for a year after my father. He was remembered for putting students into the AVCO Building. He had no children in the system. Avco was known for having no walls.

Earl Sharfman took over and did his best, He was here for four years.

Patrick Mogan, the father of the National Park, stayed here for five glorious years, He worked tirelessly on the National Park. He was a living legend.

Henry J. Mroz served for eight years. My brother-in-law was against him. I gave him a full house of supporters when I was the chairman of the Citywide Parent Council. He was so surprised he came back for other visits.

George Tsapatsaris served a healthy nine years. I often saw him walking with a story on his lips, through Belvidere when I had many cliients there for landscaping. George was an open and welcome visitor. Supposedly he used to troll his car outside of the high school and personally report the teachers who didn’t come in on time.

Karla Brooks Baer was no friend of mine. I was of the group who thought she was driven to change only under pressure.

Chris Scott I did not know. I was working on landscaping and I was too busy to be involved with the schools. I regret that Jean Franco served for four years, She served for three years,

Jean Franco served for four years, She oversaw my father’s having a room named for him. It is my understanding that she was very active in that.

I gave John Glenn a view of the high school in the late 1980’s.

Salah Khelfaoui lived here for three years, His tenure is still being determined.

Joel Boyd is currently doing a fine job, in my humble opinion.

So I have concluded that the average Superintendent lasts for about three or four years. That is my assessment. Take away the two long terms and the number shrinks. I think that we push Superintendents out.

Scientific Approach in Education

Too often we find students of education interested in delinieating sources of knowledge and the nature of science, as well as the nature of research.

These are the categories determined by researchers Ary, Jacobs, and Razavieh. That approach leads to finding the nature of problems and the sources of problems which easily identify population and variables. Easy to determine intelligence tests should not be considered as measures of innate or « pure » intelligence. It seems to me that it is easy to use factors that are partly dependent on the background of the subject.

One of my favorite research books is the seldomly used « Rural School From Within by MG Kirkpatrick, B.S. and Ph.D. Kirkpatrick cites simple testing and usage in use in past decades. The fact that Kirkpatrick has to bow down to the past practice of rural learning and teaching in 1917, before World War 1, does not diminish his embracing of the student who has to go to school at a point when the largest discipline problem is whether or not the largest student in the class can learn to follow the teacher’s learning practices.

A tall young man might reject the teachings of his teachers. Some students must learn on their own. According to the author, the one agency which touches the life of all country people is the rural school. Children of today’s schools can learn to behave as well as the young male student who sees little in his lessons that touch his life. Students of the early 1900’s had to give up their lives to help out the mechanized farm life. Study was not necessary.

Conversely, intelligence tests did not measure intelligence. Rather, it measured life of many years later. The results of the growth of male children towards the teacher, is often cited by Kirkpatrick as the reason for bad behavior by the full-grown students. They want to continue on with their adulthood by exercising their rights. One of their rights of this day, was the right to prove their adulthood by waging war on hidden enemies. I still have a friend that wants their draft board back. He is remarkably out-of-step. We step from protective environments to unprotected, kill that man or I kill the next, philosophy. In WWI to current day, there is always plenty of exposure of the baser incentives.

I told a man who collected hours as a pilot in an F14 that I believe that generations tend to not change. When you are in your twenties, you are interested in finding a mate, starting a family, overcoming poverty, and having children. The generation before yours was probably involved in many of the same things. Later generations will try to encapsulate those things that were important to their growth. There will be some challenges. Your former best friend might use your growth format for measuring how much more advanced her children are than are yours. And you may not find the comparison fair. But it often is.

So I believe that we do « measure the subject’s ability to perceive relationships, solve problems, and apply knowledge in a variety of contexts. » (Page 191) It cannot get any more personal than that.

It is the old adage, « the more things change the more they stay the same. » There are on-line treatments for couples or groups. There are always administrative diagnostics at home. Those can help us to find our way in a pandemic. Every group has some part of small group audio issues. That is just the way communication swells and embellishes our world.

In his book, « House Divided » it is common to read what appears to be truth in these fictional pages. It follows four generations of a Civil War family and tries to encapsulate various specific behaviors of these highly charged family (ies). It contains great sacrifices which continue to mount today. Life is difficult. Time is precious. People are sacrificed.

Lowell, Massachusetts is drawn to the happenings in the fictional book, although Lowell’s sacrifices were real and are etched in the granite in the Memorial Library. Over 700 men died in the many battles of Lowell, including the first two in the war, Ladd and Whitney. They are buried in front of Lowell’s majestic City Hall.

I have a good friend who sees each move to be threatening because it is based in history. He would reject all of my arguments to date. If you mention something which is modern he is fine. But come up with an argument on something that happened in 1066AD, he will scoff and say « history, » There is a lot more history than there is modernity.

That is the end of my diatribe. Things happen. People live and die. And, in this pandemic we are keeping track. Tonight’s death count is 12,000 plus. I just looked at a fine bit of sun’s charm, with the

rays hitting my computer. They formed a make-believe star. It was just my imagination, but it looked like a star. The sun cast the brightest hue on the computer screen. It looked glorious, and I will remember it.

Where do we go with our imagination? Anywhere. Life begins anywhere, and giving life is the ultimate thrill. This week, I have a new grandnephew, a brother who is a father, two new grandchildren, and a totally unreliable interest in politics. Add to that my sister’s three grandchildren, my other sisters’ grandchildren, my grandson, and others and my life is pretty full. Enjoy yours. Oh, and I cannot forget my older grandchild who will be going to college soon. I have been studiously watching « Forrest Gump, » holding onto his successes. Hopefully, I will find a few successes myself.Open block settingsOpen publish panel

  • Document

Wayne Peters Publishes an Unread Book.

Wayne Peters published a book on his time in the Great Depression. His son, Jim, says that the book is funny, and pertinent. The fact that it was published nine years after his death is a testimony to Jim Peters. Jim thought it was interesting. It is. It is about growing up as the youngest son of a blacksmith who bought all of his mortgage and stock and lost it in the downturn in fortunes. His father was forced to forget his bad luck in the market and travel to a job, learning how to adjust to being a renter after raising his oldest children as the owner of his business. He was lucky to get a position.

This is a long book but it reveals how difficult it was to grow up as a toddler and young student in Manson, Iowa during the Depression. It is an excellent book.

Enjoy it, very few copies are extant. This is one book to have.

Illinois Loses History Rights

I had a few things to write about today but learning of a pattern to cut back the teaching of History took precedence. My entire approach to history is determined by how much time I have to explore the subject and how we best approach history’s stories. Because that is what history is, it is a story, the word is part of the lexicon involved in keeping track of things that happened before. I would guess that Illinois is going to stop the study of the law because law is a type of history. Wouldn’t that be funny, to have a state that cannot keep track of its own precepts? Not funny, I guess, more likely something sad.

I am looking at a picture of my son, which I intend to paint sometime. He was born on 8/1/81 and is a remarkable kid. But my leanings have no place in Illinois. Those are not things that are tracked. The fact that he was also born weighing 8 pounds, 1 ounce probably has nothing to do with the facts of his birth. As a former citizen of that state, Illinois is embarassing me. I remember my father telling me a story, one based on fact, a history perhaps, that he was followed by a large group of minority students to a high school where he was having a meeting in Illinois. They repeatedly told him that they intended to kill him when they caught him. He knocked on the door of the high school and a janitor took pity and let him into the safe environment within. It was the first day of the recognition of Martin Luther King’s death. My father almost was a victim. And, he would have been.

What does that got to do with history? It is history. Here was an average Superintendent going to a required meeting, almost killed by people who knew so little about history that they were dangerous. I was just glad my father lived. He almost did not. I do not excuse those rioters. They had no right to stop my father’s life at a young age.

I just listened to a few people who were espousing Black Lives Matter in a rally at the MLK Memorial in Washington, D.C. They were very impressive. The right to be safe is something that every person in the United States should expect. My father certainly went to South Chicago that day with high expectations of safety and returning home in one piece.

So, where am I going with this? Nowhere, actually. It was a close call over fifty years ago. People change. Events change things. Close calls have no valid point in American history. But we will all live with those fears because the United States is a scary place. Ask George Floyd of Minnesota. He is dead now, but he might have an idea about outlooks from heaven.

I suffered from high expectations and a cruel childhood a few years ago. I went to a very helpful and nice hospital around Boston and got the medication and the time to heal. It took years, but I was not in a hurry. I was diagnosed with PTSD before it was made into a common illness. It was a very harrowing time. Sometimes my parents were not my friends. There was a little too much drinking, by me also, and dangerous friendships. That made me stick to things that I knew. I had a fantastic wife, and wonderful children, and they saved me. I asked one child who might be responsible for the longings to commit suicide, and who was responsible for that part of my personality. It was a stupid question because it obviously was not one of my children or my wife. It just happened to me.

Life is funny. As I wrote in a poem, life could be measured in nanoseconds if we did not stop it from destroying us.

Many Other Choices and Mistakes

A relative, which kind not being important, did excessive drinking when I was younger. One night I got a call from his live-in girlfriend. She insisted that he was making it up, but he seemed lethargic, and he might not be alright. I jumped in the Volkswagen and drove to his temporary shelter of her home. He was clearly in a coma. No pupils, and no responses. I took him to the nearest hospital, which is not there anymore, and they took his blood. It was a rust-colored liquid. I have never been so frightened. I got him to his room and went home at about five in the morning. Then I went home to sleep. His parents were not interested in his problems. That horrified me.

I did not sleep much for the next few nights. I was at the hospital most of the time. He was hallucinating and it was awful because he was strapped arms and legs to his hospital bed. The things attacking him were, in his mind, not fictional. I just batted them off of him whenever one of his many demons made an appearance. The nurse was angry with me. She wanted him to face his fears. It was difficult.

I saw his girlfriend later, many years later. She thought he was faking it. I could not believe that. Faking the worst things in your life as you hallucinated them in your bed. I would never be a doctor, that was sure. I felt very badly for him.

I found many things to make me feel better. My wife and I had four lovely children. I discovered that I could draw and paint. Those became my favorite things. I am currently working on a childhood painting of one of my kids and I am hoping it comes out right. In the meantime, there is the National Council for Historic Education of the Illinois variety. Seldomly, has the nation been so fracked with discontent as it is currently, a time that stretches back to Revolutionary dogmas. Women in the early years of the republic likened their situation to the men that they had married. Kerber cites the question, « Could a woman be a patriot? »

He also cites the fact that women were supportive of the patriots and the loyalists, oftentimes in the same family at the same time. Some wives did not convert to their husband’s side. A loyalist may maintain her predelictions throughout the fight. A patriot might be shunned by her husband. It just depends.

In the 1770’s Christopher Gadsen stated that women were inclined to fight the husband, depriving him of « giving their assistance, without which it is impossible to succeed. » No one really knows if he was correct. But he stated it. « Gadsen’s formulation is traditional in its easy telescoping of women into wives. » That may be.

« His appeal is not to the women but to the men who are their husbands; he does not seek to sway the independent single woman. » Interesting. Perhaps the fathers of the texts in Illinois make the same mistake with their wives and daughters.

Maybe, just maybe, he realizes that women handled, and many still do, manage household economics.

Anyway, I have a problem. I am many years removed from Illinois, but I see them killing history because it is too difficult to manuver. When I was living in Illinois, many people lived around Chicago. I remember a quick conversation with Governor Deval Patrick which established that I had gone to school at almost precisely the same time as he did when he went to college and law school. I had been a few blocks away from his residence in South Chicago while living in Harvey, Illinois. I was the son of the Superintendent, so I did not qualify for scholarships, etc. But I, like he, lived in Massachusetts and enjoyed the college level atmosphere of the campuses in eastern Massachusetts. He and I met at my sister-in-law’s headquarters for her battles as the elected Congresswoman and we shared a few stories.

Other than living close to the area of the city of Chicago where he grew up, I have no grip on Mr. Patrick’s history. It was an interesting conversation though. I am hoping that Mr. Patrick can convince his formidable friends in the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois and this ridiculous move to abandon history in the state. I have a certain inflexibility when it comes to History. I hope that they rethink this thing. Otherwise, it might be as ineffectual as the Revolutionary war was on committed women.

Ed Markey is no Paul Tsongas

I was related to Paul Tsongas. He was my wife’s brother. All I can say is that, in six years Paul Tsongas spent more time in Massachusetts than Ed Markey has done in 43 years. Ed Markey even spent one time in Lowell a few months ago and had it written up in the local newspaper. Paul Tsongas spent virtually every night in Lowell. All I can say is that Ed Markey is no Paul Tsongas. Would that he was.

Paul Tsongas would still be Senator if it was not for that awful cancer. Ed Kennedy is younger, like Paul, wiser, like Paul, and healthy, unlike Paul Tsongas. I wish we still had Paul to keep us straight. He would be watching out for his home city. I remember when Niki Tsongas told me that Lowell was Paul’s « Center of the Universe. » I believe that it was and still is. Let’s get someone like Paul back in the Senate. Let’s elect Joe Kennedy for Senator. He will not be spending is time in Maryland. In fact, he will be spending his time in Lowell, working on Lowell’s problems.

Black Lives Matter II

Awhile ago, a group of blacks came up with the perfect nomenclature. They saw intensive killing of black people and wanted to stop it. They called their effort « Black Lives Matter. » It was beautiful, written by an articulate race, the Black, or African-American race. It was designed to keep the number of terrorist acts down to a minimum. The quote stuck, sometimes, and for some people, too hard. It joined a splendid pack of quotes. Those included:

Black Lives Matter

We Shall Overcome

Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, I’m free at last.

There are many others, too. Just read Martin Luther King’s writings.

A group of black Americans came up with a new way of stating the obvious. In fact, black lives do matter. The Massachusetts governor cited a black initiated day, which was not the same day as the actual event, to make a holiday of Juneteen. So now we have a new holiday in Massachusetts. That in and of itself, is quite an accomplishment. Massachusetts is moving in the right direction.

My brother-in-law was Senator Paul Tsongas. I remember he and I walked South Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. As we stood on one hill, directly below us was an African American apartment complex. I looked through the crowd looking for a black man and I could not find one. People were throwing empty beer bottles at Paul because, in their opinion, Paul had voted wrongly on a busing bill. Never a hypocrite, Paul voted for busing. African Americans were afraid to come to the parade. Every person that I saw that day was white. My opinion was that blacks were too cautious to make the climb up the hill. When Paul asked me later in the day what I thought, I said, « You’re doing this for a living? » Yes, he was. And Mr. Kennedy will have the same problems. Living up to principles is a dangerous thing.

So, I forgot a few things in my blog post yesterday. I did not really talk about the people who were radicalized and bigoted. I did not state that « Black Lives Matter » was aimed at the average black man and woman. It was not aimed at the whites. The four men making their statement in the television studio were scared of having the organization taken over by Socialists and Communists. I do not think that will happen, and if it does, what’s the harm. We are already the largest Socialistic society in the world. Socialism is used to explain away the deficit in the United States. Children being fed during the summer are in the throes of socialism. Churches practice socialism. Social Security is partially the practice of Socialism. Socialism is not necessarily a bad thing.

Communism is another matter. It is the militaristic phase of Socialism. We do not need the military in our exercise of Socialism. If Black Lives Matter is a Communist organization, send those Communists packing. In my opinion, our discussion must be about George Floury. He was killed for no other reason than that he was a black citizen of this country. No wonder some people are having such a difficult time accepting Police explanations of encounters. Putting cameras on each policeman is a great idea.

« Black Lives Matter » is literally about black men being indiscriminatley killed by police officers. Does it happen in Lowell? Not that I know of, but BLM keeps the target moving to include more victims. It is not like it happens near your house. But it might happen a few towns over, and when it does, I hope that the District Attorney is willing to sacrifice her job if need be.

During the Great Society, Lyndon Johnson introduced many small changes and one or two great ones. People, and I remember this, said, and then sang, « We shall overcome. » People were mad. What were we overcoming? Who were we overcoming? The song did not say. Just « we will overcome, » something. It was as much of a hot button as « Black Lives Matter. » Saying that we needed to overcome something was saying that the country was not perfect. People did not like that. After all, we were spreading our gains as far away as Vietnam.

BLM is simply saying that Black Lives Matter. It is a mantra, a simple statement. Policemen can take exception to it, but they should be committed to letting life continue on. Wearing a gun, even to a parent/student/teacher conference, does not mean that you are infallible. You have to earn the right to carry a gun. That means that everyone has the right to live. Finally, BLM does not mean that white lives do not matter. Both live within themselves.