Skipping out of school was nothing new to many students at Ruskin back in the day. The school had so many choices of doors to exit and enter from that you could pretty well get in and out unnoticed. I had done this several times mostly just to go to lunch off of the campus which was "strictly" forbidden.
I did not make it a habit to skip out of any classes although I had a few times. There were so many options of things to do instead of going to class that the temptation was pretty strong. Just across the street from the school was a strip mall or small shopping center that had a few businesses that were worth going to.
First off there was the library. This wasn't a popular choice among students but it was the safest choice. If the librarian asked you about being out of class you had two choices. First off the way they scheduled classes was bizarre. Every other day you would have three classes that went an hour and a half each then on Friday all six classes for an hour each. This provided a phenomenon that allowed you to be out of school an hour or so early every other day. Simply tell the librarian that this was one of your early days and you could stay. The other choice was to say that you were given permission to come across the street to do some research. In order to pull this one off you had to have a pink excuse slip with the explanation written on it and signed by a teacher. By the time my junior year came around this was not very difficult to achieve and it came in handy on Fridays. The problem with the library was that in reality, you might as well had stayed at the school if you are going to spend all that time sitting and reading.
There was a dime store there as well. For you youngsters reading this a dime store was more or less the same as a drugstore these days only without a pharmacy. Think of it as a small K-Mart or a small Walmart. They had albums that you could thumb through along with 45 rpm singles. It was called the "Ben Franklin" and they received a lot of business from the school. They never questioned you unless it became clear that you weren't going to buy anything. As long as you walked around with something that you could conceivably buy, they were fine with you being there. All that was required was to spend some money. The only problem with the dime store was that it was difficult to spend a lot of time there before they began to get impatient with you while at the library you could sit all day.
The best choice was the pool hall. It was seldom crowded and all you had to do was put a quarter in the pool table and get a rack of ball and play. They loved us at the pool hall. Every once in awhile a teacher may wander over there to check to see if any students were there but that didn't happen too often. Besides it was easy not to get caught because you could see the teacher coming and the pool hall's back door was open most of the time for a quick escape.
My favorite way of skipping though was simply to get in a friends car and run down the street to Paul's and get a burger and rings and then return to class before lunch period was over. This I will admit to doing several times during my junior and senior years. An added bonus was that teachers did not seem to care if we broke the lunch rule about eating on campus as long as we came back for class. In reality it wasn't skipping at all really. You had that unsaid approval from the authorities that allowed you to go out to eat with out much guilt following you around.
There were times that we might get distracted and go joy riding after lunch instead of going back to school but that didn't happen very often. It was a dangerous thing to do because if a policeman caught you out driving around chances are he would pull you over and send you back to school. The police station being just down the street from the school didn't help much either. Most times we did our joy riding in the town just to the south of Kansas City. Back at that time there was not a lot of development between Kansas City and Grandview so the roads were fairly vacant. They were rough roads and hard on your car if you drove to fast but your chance of being spied out there were greatly reduced. A few times a flat tire would occur from the rough driving and it was the owner of the cars responsibility to fix said tire. One time we were driving fairly fast over a little bridge in the road nicknamed "Cherry Hill" when Kenny's VW Bug left the ground and landed hard knocking one of the wheels completely off the car. He was left out on his own as we all climbed into Mike's car to head to our respective houses as it was time for school to be out anyway. Kenny was carless for a couple of months after that because his parents thought it odd that an entire wheel would come off a car just driving down the road on the way home form school.
The day of my expulsion was one of those three class days. It was also the last day of classes for the year. This meant we were taking final exams on that day and I had just one class left after lunch to go to. It was important class for me because it was my drafting class which I planned on making a career of. I wanted and needed to take this final in drafting because I knew that I needed a good grade in it to get the chance to work in the engineering department for the summer.
A history teacher named Mr. Booth, who would later become principal at the school had chosen to be a jerk on this final day of school. He went out and stood at the entrance to the school parking lot during lunch hour. As we pulled into the school parking lot he stepped out in front of us and held up his hand indicating that we were to stop. I can still see that wicked grin on his face as he leaned into the window of Mike's car and looked at all of us. I had a history myself with Mr. Booth from being in his American History class. He had hung pictures of all the Presidents over his black board and in doing so had hung Richard Nixon's picture upside down. Those that know me will understand that I was rather upset at this show of disrespect to the still sitting President. Nixon had three more months before he would be forced to resign his office and so this was clearly an editorial statement on a teacher's part that had no business being displayed in the classroom. These were young minds he was forming and I am not sure if any of my classmates were done irreparable harm from his subtle statement.
As he grinned into the car he told us to turn around and go home, we were all expelled for the rest of the school year. Not thinking he was serious we laughed a nervous laugh among all of us and he slowly walked over in front of the car to make sure we did not get into the parking lot.
All of us expressed our own individual feelings fro Mr. Booth at that moment and we drove across the street to the strip mall. I knew I had to get back in the school to take my final but the others didn't seem to care. Eventually a couple of the guys went with me to get back into school while the others headed home.
As I said earlier there were dozens of ways to get or out of that school and I took the quickest way over to the drafting classroom. I ran low across the baseball feild and over to the door that would lead me into the hallway that would take me to the classroom where my final exam of the year waited. The particular hallway I had to make my way down was complete glass and bordered the student parking lot.
I looked out the glass hallway and saw Mr. Booth heading back towards the school since lunch hour was now over. He headed towards a door that would lead into the wing of the school where his classroom was leaving me free to hustle down the glass hallway and into my classroom.
I slipped into the room and took my seat and began taking the final exam of the school year. The expulsion was simply a scare tactic because when I got my grades it was apparent that Mr. Booth had not turned in our names to the office as being expelled.
That summer I worked in the drafting department where my dad was employed and began a career that propelled me to where I am today. It was too close of a call for me however and I vowed that in my Senior year of school, I would be a lot more careful deciding when and if to skip out of school or not. Anyway I would be sure that I wouldn't get caught again and I was successful in that venture during my one semester of school as a senior.