Miss Cornelius 7th grade class, SE Shull School, Perth Amboy, NJ, USA, Earth 1963.
The Beatles had not yet invaded America. The Four Seasons, Beach Boys, Motown, and Elvis (for the greasers) were the pop music favorites for this early decade. Battery powered transistor radios had just become widely available, and were accelerating a revolution in audio availability. One could, for the first time in history, take your favorite radio station along with you anywhere you went, the park, the beach, anywhere. That was the beauty of portable transistor radios, the portability.
And why couldnít that portability extend to school? At the time I saw nothing wrong with taking a few of the WMCA Good Guys along with me to Miss Corneliusís homeroom. Although Miss Cornelius, as might be expected, had a different idea about radios in her classroom.
Yes Miss Cornelius...
I always wondered if Miss C had felt that it was her mission in life to be the most hard edged (read disliked) teacher in the entire school. I think she just couldn't help being her. She was a notoriously poor marker and was not the kind of teacher who tolerated any type of nonsense in her classroom. And that certainly included student radios.
There were numerous slow spots in Miss Cís classes. To counter these slow spots, I would conceal a small radio in my pants pocket and run the earplug cord under my shirt and out through my long sleeve shirt. While I was pretending to be reading some textbook I would pull the earplug out of my sleeve and discretely plug it into my ear. I would bury my face into the book and hold my hand up to my ear to hide the small earplug, all the while listening to Dandy Dan Igram or another DJ spinning the current hot wax for my listening pleasure.
I became quite adept at avoiding Miss C's scrutiny and she never actually caught me in the act of listening to my radio during her class. But she knew that I did indeed bring a radio to school, and she had her suspicions about me and my radio in her class. So she told me I was not allowed to come into the school building with a radio in my possession. And she sent a note home to my parents to help enforce this dictate.
To circumvent this anti-radio dictate I got an idea from a tv show that I had seen where a secret radio was concealed in a hollowed out book. I found an old textbook and cut out the center of the pages to fit my transistor radio into. This book would be (literally) my cover. I could now pass inspection from both my parents and Miss C.
This day I did indeed bring my radiobook to class. But then about 1 o'clock Principal Augustine comes into the classroom with a very stern look on his face. He takes Miss C out into the hallway and has a few words with her. They both reenter the room, look directly at me and ask me if I have a radio. I thought for sure I was busted. But possession of a radio canít be that big a deal. Could it? I didnít know what to do, should I come clean and tell the truth or just deny it, as I didnít think they knew about my radiobook, or did they?
After my hemming and hawing for a few minutes they finally inform me that they werenít interested in disciplining me and that they really needed me to turn on my radio if I had one.
I did turn it on and that is how Miss Corneliusís 7th grade class learned of the death of their president.
We all went home to watch the rest of the story.
Varsity and cheerleaders