2019-04-12 / Travel

Roach Anxiety

Part 1: Bully Bobby
By Warner M. Montgomery, Ph.D.


Schneider Elementary School (originally Shandon School, was renamed for Samuel Schneider, principal of from 1936 to his death in 1950. Schneider Elementary School (originally Shandon School, was renamed for Samuel Schneider, principal of from 1936 to his death in 1950. I recently spent four weeks in the hospital where a skilled lady doctor with tiny hands successfully removed a “roach” from my lung. Actually, it was not a roach but a “non-smoking cancer” that looked like a roach on the X-ray screen.

The possibility that I had been infested with roaches was quite traumatic because I have a history of roach fear..... AND, believe me, the only thing I have ever smoked was an “Indian cigar” I plucked from a tree across the street from my childhood home.

It burned my throat and made me terribly sick. I was eight years old at the time and vowed never to smoke again.

[Note: Catawba or catalba trees have long slender seed pods sometimes called “cigars.” These southern trees grow to be 50-90 feet tall and have large leaves which thrive in South Carolina. Catalpa trees may live 60 years, are very adaptable and prefer a well-drained, moist soil. This tree is sometimes called the Indian bean tree.] My Forest Hills neighborhood had a car pool in which parents rotated collecting us in the morning, dropping us off at Schneider Elementary School ( originally Shandon School but renamed for Samuel Schneider who was principal of the school from 1936 to his death in 1950), and picking us up in the afternoon. However, once I reached the fourth grade I rode my blue Schwinn to school on days when it was not raining.

I pedalled up the Gervais Street hill, pushed the Schwinn up the steep Maple Street hill, shouted SHAZAM, and sped like Captain Marvel, gold cape blowing in the wind, to school where I locked my bike to the rack, put my book bag in No 19 locker, and lined up in front of the school where principal Guy L. Varn (later the district’s fifth superintendent in 1961) greeted students and faculty.

I stood proudly with my homeroom teacher Ruth Bundrick and my other favorite teachers— Miss Louise Drummund, Miss Grace Sease (later assistant principal at Dreher and A. C. Flora High Schools), and Mrs. Virginia Pack (later principal of Belvedere Elementary School now Burton Pack Elementary School). As the American flag was raised, we sang the National Anthem and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. School Bully Bobby was the terror of my Schneider School career. He began picking on me during first grade and threatened to take my bike if I told on him. I secretly complained to the teacher on “ Yard Duty” ( Miss Gertrude Thurmond [1904-2000], who later served as First Lady for her bachelor brother, Gov. Strom Thurmond), but she was never able to catch Bully Bobby in the act and told me, “Just ignore him, Warner, he’ll stop.”

Continued next week

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