Sample Story

Here is a sample from the book from page 151:

Dusty and the Door

West face of the Richmond Beach School Study hall in upper right, Miss Hattie Jones room in lower right corner. (1961, page 146)

West face of the Richmond Beach School Study hall in upper right, Miss Hattie Jones room in lower right corner. (1961, page 146)

“Perhaps the story I am most asked about is the infamous story of “Dusty and the Door.” Dusty was the name my older brother, Roald, took for his cowboy persona. Now, the lower floor of Richmond Beach School housed grades one through eight and the upper story held grades nine through twelve. On the east side were three classrooms, while across the hall was a classroom on the north end, then a set of stairs, the principal’s office, the study hall and, on the south end of the hallway, the girls’ lavatory.

One afternoon in the spring of 1944, the Boy’s Club meeting was held in one classroom, and the Girl’s Club meeting was in another classroom down the hall by the girls’ lavatory. As our high school encompassed fewer than one hundred students, each group fit nicely in one classroom. This time the Boy’s Club meeting let out several minutes earlier than Girl’s Club’s. While milling around in the hall, waiting, someone dared Dave Schwab, a freshman, to pull out the pins on the hinges of the Girl’s Club room. While he was waffling about the decision, Dusty, then a junior, said, “I will do it,” which he proceeded to do, laying the pins on the dark brown linoleum floor alongside the door. We did not have to wait long.

La Mona Laguire, the first girl through the door, gave it a mighty shove, knocking it to the floor, and shattering the window in the top half. The air was also shattered with a loud shriek. The girls were finally able to get out by walking carefully around the broken glass.

Somehow, our principal, Mr. Tom Marsden, became convinced, probably through rumors, that Dave Schwab was the guilty party. He asked each boy, independently in his office the same two questions. “Do you know who did it?” And “Will you tell me?” I am sure every boy knew who did it, but not a one would snitch.

Exactly how it came about, I do not know, but the entire student body spent the afternoon in the study hall where Dave Schwab was the accused in a kangaroo court. The faculty was the jury, Art Kellenburger the defense attorney, and – guess what? – Dusty was the prosecuting attorney! The teachers lined up along the west wall by the windows and heard what was, to us, a hilarious farce. Though witnesses were called, nobody would snitch. I am sure Mr. Marsden and the faculty wondered why we seemed to find the proceedings funny.

The highlight of the “trial” was when somebody asked where the hinge pins were. Dave, who had been sitting up front, jumped up, went out the door, returning promptly with the hinge pins resting on his white handkerchief. “Do you want to examine them for fingerprints?” he asked in a serious tone. As, I am sure, virtually all the students knew the score, the room erupted in laughter.

At about this point, Dusty brought the whole proceeding to a halt by announcing that he could not let Dave take the rap because he himself had done the deed. Mr. Marsden’s jaw dropped – he knew he’d been had. The upshot was that Dusty lost some privileges and was required to pay for the broken glass. The irony was that right then and there, the student body took up a collection for him that ultimately left him with a small profit!”

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