SCHOOL DAYS, DEAR OLD GOLDEN RULE DAYS
”Don’t send that boy to Jackson School.”
Grier Legend has it that those words were uttered by my mother, Ruby, prior to her death, when I was two years of age. Jackson School was next door to our three-room apartment in the Tremont Flats building on Fifth Street in Cincinnati’s West End. Strange that my mother favored the Catholic school, Holy Trinity, since neither she nor my father, Leslie, was Catholic.
As my mother wanted, I started my twelve years of formal education at Holy Trinity. It was more like thirteen years, because before kindergarten we did something called “primer” (that could have been what we now call pre-school). I was a non-Catholic in a Catholic school. No Communion or serving as an altar boy for me—but then no Confession either.
We were taught by nuns from the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. The principal was Mother Agnita. She could make a wayward male student’s blood run cold with one emphatic utterance of the word “boy!”
After my seventh-grade year the school at Holy Trinity parish closed, and I was transferred to St. Henry in what is now called Queensgate. After the eighth grade, one of the good nuns convinced me I should give the priesthood a try. I was enrolled in Sacred Heart Seminary in Anderson Township. After three years there, the Rector had had enough of my somewhat rebellious demeanor and politely suggested I go elsewhere. Elsewhere was St. Martin DePorres High School, back in the West End.
That move put me under the supervision of Dioscesan priests and one Franklin M. Shands. Mr. Shands was football coach, basketball coach, track coach and teacher of a variety of subjects. Any of the 100 male students who dared to violate one of Coach’s dictates had a meeting with his “Board of Education”—namely, swats on your behind.
Upon my graduation from DePorres, I spent some time playing drums; spent more time cleaning the old Shubert Theatre; joined the Air Force. Within a year I would write my father and ask that he send me a camera that I owned, but had hardly ever picked up.When the package got to my base in England, it turned out my education had just begun.