9th grade: I was a WALLFLOWER! I hadn't any friends. I was overweight, tall and docile. I didn't participate in sports (dad wouldn't allow it), I did poorly in all academic areas EXCEPT Science! I got all A's in Earth Science. I was always the first in my class to raise my hand. That summer in 1968, our science teacher, E. Dan Stevens, took a bunch of us kids up to a place in Northern Lake Michigan called Summer Island where the Summer Science Foundation had set up a camp for all ages. That summer I spent 2 weeks excavating an old Indian lakeshore camp. We dug up pieces of pottery, arrow heads, fish and animal bones. I had a wonderful time, met new friends and even went camping on Poverty Island. It as also my first (and last :) Snipe hunt. I waited out in the woods for several hours with my pillow case and toothpaste on my nose. You know what, I thought it was kind of fun, even after I learned that it was a joke.
10th grade: I started football practice in the late summer/fall and although it was the hardest thing I had ever been forced to do, did my best. School started and I looked forward to sitting on the bench in my first sporting event, a high school football game. On the Thursday before our first game (a home game) I was walking back from gym class with a bunch of the 'guys' when this kid, Kevin, jumped on my back and started pounding me in the ears and shoulders. I struggled to get him off and when I did an heretofore unknown defensive mechanism took over and I started swinging my arms wildly in attempt to protect myself. Unfortunately the fight was outside the principal's office window and he only saw me swinging my fists, so I was given a 3-day suspension. Which meant I couldn't go to my first game and since I was suspended on Monday, couldn't go to the next either. That effectively killed my sophomore football year.
11th grade: Don't remember too much, a couple of skirmishes in the hallways, I never started anything, but always won. I was still overweight, but lifting bales of hay in the summertime has a way of building you up. One time during class change, I remember a kid, Donnie Roberts, the school clown, flicking my pencil out of my pocket and crushing it with his heel, a common custom at that time. I was late for class that was my last pencil. Without even thinking, I dropped my books and issued a right cross, striking him in the cheek and the side of the nose. He fell like a ton of bricks and his nose gushed blood. That was my first experience with an overdose of adrenalin. I was shaking. I thought maybe I had killed him until he moved. No one said anything to the staff, so no one got into trouble, this time. The word about me spread fast and the other kids stayed away from me.
12th grade: I'm a senior!! I lettered in football this year, still a little on the hefty side, but I was known for my science and technology wisdom. I was the head photographer for the Whitonian, the school yearbook, I took chemistry, and was the president of the Photography Club. I had established myself as an "all round nice guy" which meant I struck out in dating. In April I went to the Selective Service Board and registered for the draft. This brought the Vietnam War dangerously close, more on that later. In May of 1971 my last altercation happened. And as it turns out, the last time I ever struck someone in anger. I was taking a drama class and the teacher allowed a "free form" desk arrangement as long as you faced toward the front of the class. So this day I arrived early and chose a seat near a girl that I liked and in walks the trouble maker, Raymond. He tells me that I'm in HIS seat. I tell him to get lost and then the teacher tells him to take another seat. The class ends and while at my locker with my books under my left arm and twisting the combination lock with my right hand Raymond comes up and says, "You want to start some s--t?" I said, "Raymond, you ain't worth s--t!" He proceeded to hit me in the jaw from the right side, a "sucker" punch. The next thing I remember was six of my friends pulling me off of him. They tell me that after he hit me I dropped my books turned and caught him square in the jaw with a left hook. Then as he was falling came across with a right cross. After he was on the floor, I straddled him and used both fists to "pile drive" his face. When it was over I had broken his jaw, his nose and knocked out some teeth. No staff member saw us fighting, I went to the office, he went to the hospital. No charges were filed. I was very lucky. After that day, the other students crossed the hall to move out of my way. Well, I graduated, 47th out of 51 students. Not exactly a whiz kid, but on to college...