Friday, November 16, 2012

Basketball, Home Town Boys, and Full-Time Teaching

Evan Massey at the end of Galesburg's loss to Springfield Sacred Heart Griffin in December of 2007.
The Galesburg High School girls basketball team is hosting its annual Thanksgiving Tournament at Thiel Gym in Galesburg, and I'm not going to be there.  I was supposed to be broadcasting the games on WAIK this year, but after repeatedly asking for better remote broadcast equipment and not getting it, I gave up.  WAIK uses a cell phone (and if you've listened to the broadcasts, you already know this), which sounds like the announcers are coming out of a barrel.  So best of luck to Coach Evan Massey and the girls, and best of luck to my broadcast partner, Jimmie Carr.  Have a great season!  I'll really miss calling all the games!

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Erik Gibson and John Pepmeyer
The recent Knox County state's attorney election in Galesburg reminded me how golden home town boys can be.  I grew up with a home town boy named Itchie, who played sports in high school and went on to become a lawyer and an important member of the country club in my home town.  I played with Itchie on the high school golf team for two years (until I got kicked off), and he was friendly.  We were neighbors, and our moms went to the same college so he probably had to be nice to me when we were kids. 

But in 2005, when I went back to the country club with a former student of mine and his dad (The dad was a country club member), Itchie wouldn't even acknowledge my presence.  He completely ignored me in the grill room while we were having lunch.  When Itchie's dad died and I sent him $25.00 for the memorial, Itchie ignored that too--no thank you note was forthcoming.  But whenever Itchie's name comes up among my friends back in my hometown, he is spoken about with reverence.  Itchie is a golden home town boy!

That's why I wasn't surprised when John Pepmeyer beat Erik Gibson in the state's attorney's election on November 6th.  Home town boys like Pepmeyer are teflon, and during the campaign Pepmeyer never missed an opportunity to brag to the voters that he grew up in Galesburg, and that Gibson did not.

Gibson is a bulldog, and he ran hard.  Erik and I did lots of girls basketball games together on the radio and rode many bumpy roads to places like Quincy, Peoria Central, and Bradford.  Gibson would never say specifically what was going on in the state's attorney's office, but enough was said to tell me that problems indeed existed.

But John Pepmeyer ("Peppie") is a home town boy, and everyone in town knows that the alleged shenanagins that occurred  in his office are probably true.  Two of the women who Pepmeyer allegedly sexually harassed have settled their law suits out of court, and the other is still suing.  No criminal charges were filed against Pepmeyer by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.  But the county has paid out money in settlements to the former employees; however, no one will say how much.

Gibson would have been a great state's attorney, and I'm not sure what the future holds for the "Peotone Flash."  But I'd have to bet that Gibson's days in the state's attorney's office are numbered.

I asked one of my neighbors the other day what it would take for him to jump off Peppie's ship and vote for Gibson.  "Those women who sued John were from Mangieri's administration [the former state's attorney]," my neighbor said.  "The gals ran the office, and they didn't like John.  He was only trying to right the ship."  Yeah, sure!

Now if that was me or you allegedly playing grab-ass in the office, we'd be out on our ears.  But a home town boy lives a charmed life, and to be honest, I'm jealous.  When I go back to my home town, people remember me from what I was doing the last time I lived there--1970 at age 22.  You can only imagine what was going on then!

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There haven't been many postings on this blog since summer because I'm back working full-time for the first time since June of 2009.  I'm loving it!  I travel to Dominican University three days a week and to Joliet Junior College five days a week.  The big problem with retirement was the lack of interaction with the students and the other teachers.  I'm still working on getting to know the teachers, but the students are great. 

Some things I've learned this fall:

I had gained about 40 lbs. since I retired from full-time teaching, and I could barely walk around the Joliet Junior College campus because I was so fat.  I've lost 20 lbs. since the end of September and only have 80 more to go.  Hmmmmmm.

The Hispanic enrollment in Chicago Public Schools is now at 46%.  Dominican U. is actively recruiting from Chicago so about 80% of the students in my two composition classes are Hispanic.  I'm having some problems relating to them--I can only tell my getting stopped by the cops in Mazatlan story so many times--but I've learned that diversity in the classroom is a big plus compared to the lily white classes I had while teaching at Fremd.

Some students should not go to college.  I have some students in my developmental English classes at JJC who literally squirm in their seats because they hate college so much.  As one who quit college and went back--twice, I can sympathize.  One of my squirmers told me the other day that he was going to college because he couldn't get a job, and his parents told him that they wouldn't give him any money unless he enrolled at JJC.  He's a competent writer, but I'm not hopeful about his future in college--at least at this time.

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