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Lowe Tech
"Knuckle Sandwiches and Scoffed Textbooks"

There is now less flogging in our great Schools than formerly, but then less is learned there; so that what the boys get at one end they lose at the other.
- Samuel Johnson

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Mr. Harrison: "Tim, if you found 45 cents in one pocket and 35 cents in the other, what would you have?"

Tim C.: "Somebody else's pants."

Joke  in "The Towers", W.D. Lowe's yearbook, circa 1960. W.D. Lowe Technical School (successor to the Windsor-Walkerville Technical School). 1650 students. All boys. A no-nonsense school. Run by Lee F. McGee, who used to boast that he operated a "tight ship".

A school where the appearance of the boys hulking through the halls between classes belied the strict discipline of the institution. Skin-tight pants, narrow ties, pointed shoes, white socks, duck-tail haircuts, pink combs protruding from rear pockets.

But no hair on the face.  Any boy adventurous enough to sprout a cookie-duster was promptly sent home to shave by the first teacher who spotted the fuzz.

A few years later Vice-Principal "Scrubby" Aitchison would keep an old, painfully dull electric razor in his desk drawer for the rent-free use of any boy looking five o'clock shadowish.

It was a tough school where threats of "knuckle sandwiches" (sometimes brought to realization in nearby alleys) were the order of the day.

But a school with a province-wide reputation for excellence in the trades. A Lowe grad had an edge on the graduate of any other school when applying for a job in the trades anywhere in Ontario.

And the boys knew it. They had a sense of pride in their school, which sometimes descended to snobbery. I recall lecturing the boys in assembly one day for their lordly and patronizing attitude toward the students of "mere high schools".

Not that the academic side of education was ignored. When Lowe's first Grade 13 class wrote the Ontario Departmentals in 1966, the boys scored the highest average of all secondary schools in Windsor.

Strict discipline was part of the explanation.

"Yup," replies a careless boy, in reply to a query from his teacher.

"I beg your pardon!". "I mean 'yes'." "Yes, what?"

"Yes, Sir!" "That's better."

The strap was never far away. It could be and was applied for such infractions as the use of profanity. And several sharp raps on the cranium, administered by the teacher's knuckles, was the accepted method of attracting the attention of a daydreaming lad.

Discipline? Well I guess! In the early 1960's the boys at Lowe still carried in the halls a "paddle" (a small piece of wood bearing the number of the classroom from which the boy had been excused). And woe betide any student caught in the halls without it.

Needless to say, theft was at a minimum, but still a boy, when asked for his missing textbook, would often reply: "Somebody scoffed it, Sir."

But discipline was already waning. An edict from on high called for teachers to surrender their classroom straps. Nearly 100 per cent did. Nearly. A Board of Education mogul appeared at the class room door of Pat McManus, who taught at Lowe for 100 years, to demand that he surrender his strap.

"Take it away from me," replied six-foot, three-inch Pat.  The strap stayed.

A school with 25 shops, including three for autos where the boys would repair my old 1957 Pontiac and I could rest easy in the knowledge that the work would be excellent. We had no "recalls" in those days.

A tough school, but in some ways "oh, so gentle". With a literary page in the yearbook. And no one laughed at the contributors of the poems. Not unless he wanted to pay to have his teeth rearranged as a postscript to the conversation.

A school with:

John Murray, the great coach of the 1940's and 1950's who produced more championship basketball and football teams than anyone could remember. Easing off a bit in the classrooms of the early 1960's.

Bert Weir, artist unique, sporting his little goatee, the first beard of any staff member in the Windsor school system.

Col. Bill Malkin, academic director, whacking the flat of his hand on the office counter and thundering at some cowering lad: "I don't give a cuss why you were late!  You'll serve a detention!"

Syd Levine, proving over and over that all of those Italian boys were musically inclined.

Great shop teachers such as Charlie Murray, Clarence Cole, Fred Barnes and William Anderson, all bringing a natural dignity into their shops and classrooms.

A continuous noonhour staff room crib game involving Messrs. Ryan, Sherman, Aitchison and Sivell.

Mrs. Merle Worthy's smile bringing a beam of sunshine into the front office.

Another joke in the yearbook:

Coach (pointing to a cigarette butt in the shower room): "Is that yours, Matthews?"

Don: "No, Sir. You saw it first."

More Al Roach


 

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