Magazines for the Principal – for David F by
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Prompted By Magazines

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Magazines for the Principal

I had a long and happy career as a school librarian,  the last years spent at Jane Addams,  a small vocational high school in the south Bronx.  The neighborhood was poor and rather sketchy,  and the students,  burdened with lives lived in those mean streets,  were sometimes difficult.  But our dedicated faculty strove to educate and elevate them,  and we took great pride in their achievements..   (See  The Diary of a Young Girl)

And because we were a small school with a tight-knit staff,  there were strong bonds of affection between the students and teachers, and life-long friendships were forged among the faculty.

For many years during my time at Addams our principal was David F who had been a master teacher and then chairman of the English department.  David was the consummate educator,  a keen intellect, a tennis ace and sports fanatic, and a ready wit.  I counted him as a good friend and at his untimely death several years later I mourned him greatly.  (For more about David the basketball fan,  see Mr October)

But thinking back to our years at Addams  I remember that during David’s tenure the city mandated that all vocational schools that had been historically single-sex would now become co-ed.   Addams had been an all-girls school,  and although now boys could be admitted,  we continued to attract a majority of female students because of the trades we taught  – practical nursing, cosmetology, and business skills.

But as the school librarian I was determined to make the library appealing to our contingent of male students, no matter how relatively small.  I ordered books and a number of magazines that teenage boys would like – Motorcycles,  Popular Mechanics,  Black Beat,  Chess,  Games,  and of course several sports magazines.  And as I had a bigger budget that year,  I ordered English Journal,  Science Teacher,  and other pedagogical magazines for the younger faculty who were still working toward their graduate degrees.

I put a copy of my new magazine order in David’s mailbox hoping to impress him with my efforts,  and I attached a memo asking him to check off the magazines he would like routed to him before I put them out in the library for the kids.

Knowing David,  I wasn’t surprised to get my magazine list back that very same afternoon,  initialed in his inimical hand.   The only magazine David had checked was Basketball Digest.


David F

– Dana Susan Lehrman 

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!

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Tags: Schools, Teaching
Characterizations: moving, well written


  1. Marian says:

    Dana, librarians are the best. I thoroughly enjoyed the Mills College librarians, who, by the way, had a wicked sense of humor.

  2. Laurie Levy says:

    Sorry about the loss of your principal, who sounds like a great guy. I wonder if today’s students would not have equal interest in all of those magazines you ordered for the boys. Life is certainly changing in that regard.

  3. pppedimd says:

    Very touching to read. Great to hear that there’s still dedication out there. Great role model. Should be required reading for all public school librarians!

  4. Dee, I’ve never actually known a librarian personally, but getting to know you here tells me they’re anything but dour!
    I love the arc of this very sweet story!

  5. Suzy says:

    Great story, Dana, and perfect for this prompt! You must have been a wonderful librarian! I love the whole list of magazines you ordered, including the pedagogical magazines for the young teachers. How funny that the only magazine the principal wanted routed to him was Basketball Digest!

  6. John Shutkin says:

    Great story, Dana, with a perfect punchline. David sounds amazing in all ways, but I particularly agree with him as to his choice of boy’s magazines for a school in the South Bronx. Hoops rule and I can’t imagine that too many of the boys had visions of fixing up a Harley in the workshop or garage of their house.

    • Thanx John, as I wrote David was indeed someone special – a passionate educator as well as a passionate basketball fan, and also a clever wit! I hope you read my linked story about him called Mr October.
      The good die young.

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