superintendent, was the oil, that made Chilocco, the machine, operate.
There was no end to his talents. He was an educator, a politician, a
visionary, but not in an impractical way. The programs he implemented were
practical to the final challenge. Many graduated students made life in this
area more civilized. Their contributions as print shop owners, dry cleaner
workers, office workers
and many other trades were used and appreciated.
While I was at Chilocco
staying on a working-scholarship, I was detailed to clean the
administration office. On occasion he would be working late and I did have a
small opportunity to make his acquaintance. He was a deep thinking man and
was usually so absorbed in his work little conversation could be had with
him. Once in a while when my double schedule at the college was heavy I was
admittedly neglectful of the cleaning. He didn't mind calling the head of
the girl's department to have them let me know it was time for me to get on
the ball. The head of the girl's department, like the night watchmen, knew
every activity going on in her building. She likely had seen me burning the
mid-night oil on many occasions. When Mr. Correll complained to her she
would call me in and mention casually that he was not happy. The kindness
with which she expressed herself made me get back to business on the detail.
Usually though, she organized a small crew of girls to go into the building
on the week-end. They went through the small building, dusting, mopping,
waxing and cleaning Venetian blinds. This shaped the place up so that it
was easier for me to take care of it. I doubt that Mr. Correll even knew of
our duplicity. Not to say that he wasn't aware, too, of each and every
happening on campus. It was simply that the old retired Wave always had a
trick or two up her sleeve for dealing with her superiors. He was usually
busy with other matters on week-ends so she used this time to help me out.
Probably, this kind of action says more for the way the school worked to
assist students who were genuinely trying. Youthful people might not be able
to know or explain how they were able to muddle through. Somewhere in the
depths of the recesses of their mind they knew, and this was what spurred
them on to continue.
Some of the employees
drove their cars on campus if they had a chore or need to communicate with
someone in another building. There were others who always walked. Mr.
Coglazier, head of the boys department, Dr. Wall, the principal, and Mr.
Correll, the superintendent, were three who walked. My job as a secretary
required me to have to take papers to the administrative office which was
just a straight walk across the campus. On this particular morning I met Mr.
Correll at the fountain. I was surprised he stopped to talk with me. It was
true that even though we might have 1000 students he knew the name of each
and every one and could visit with them by first calling their name. After I
came to work on campus he spoke to me and called me by my last name.
“Good morning, Miss
Jones.” His hesitation and stopping was, indeed, most unexpected.
“Good morning, Sir.”
He was wearing the same suit I remembered seeing the first time I came to
the school. It was a brown color and spoke about being a working suit with
very little extra style. It could have been a military uniform in that it
was always so sharply pressed but in spite of this, somehow, it seemed
casual. I stopped and waited respectfully to see what he wanted.
“How's the job?” he
“Oh fine, Mr. Correll.
I love my work.” There was no stretching the truth here. I did love my work.
“It is a rather short
appointment, you know.” He studied my face to see what my reaction would be.
“I understand, I'm
just thankful for that.” Again, I was honest with him.
“Good. Well, good.
We'll see what we can do when this is up.” With that he was off and gone.
Later when I learned
he was retiring I realized it was his, fatherly like, man's way, of saying
good-bye to me. For the first time since I had known him he had stopped to
exchange pleasantries to tell me, Good-bye, in his manner. I always
remembered the moment with emotion.