Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Where in the Hell is Chester Illinois? 


Even today, I still have no idea how it happened that I became a Lutheran school teacher. It never was a part of my master plan, which assumes that I actually had a master plan. All I really can remember is finding myself standing in the “Quad” , in front of the pillars which adorned the main entrance to the administration building of Concordia Teachers College in River Forest, Illinois. I remember one question kept recurring in my mind, “What in the hell am I doing here?” During my four years of high school I cannot honestly say that I thought about the idea of becoming a teacher and how much of a difference I could make in the life of a small child.

Over the next month or so I became very familiar with those pillars. Freshmen were required to live on campus in a dorm which in itself was not that bad but we were also required to wear an article of clothing called a “beanie” as a part of orientation week. Today this activity might be considered hazing and deemed illegal. I don’t remember being asked to do anything we were required to do as bad as some of the things students are expected to do on larger campuses. My first “task” was to guard those pillars holding up the front of the administration building and prevent upperclassmen from “stealing” them… RIGHT. Okay, really? Six columns, standing 30 feet tall, made out of one sort or another of stone or concrete, this can’t be ALL bad. However, and there’s always a however in life, failure to complete the task meant singing the school fight song in the cafeteria.
My shift was from midnight until 4 a.m. Okay, I WAS READY no one but no one was going to get those 20-ton pillars past me! My four-hour shift came and went we no incident, or so I thought. I had done my job. The sacred pillars were secure for another day. The seniors charged with the safekeeping of the pillars showed up shortly after my shift and explained to me that I had failed my task. Okay, let’s see, I don’t recall seeing the pillars being smuggled by me – something, incidentally I believe I would have noticed, even at four in the morning. So I turned to make sure that I hadn’t overlooked something. Yep! There they were! But now, in the early morning light I could see it. A sign, hanging over the façade of the building emblazoned with the words “THESE PILLARS HAVE BEEN STOLEN”. You are kidding me? “Nope” , I was told. They were gone. Stolen right out from under my nose. Next stop… cafeteria “On Concordia, On Concordia… .”

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