William Weinrich column head

In 1960, I was a sophomore in Waverly High School. We lived on a farm two miles out of Waverly. I raised rabbits, ducks, geese, goats, coon dogs, fox hound, horses, pigeons, and had snakes for pets.

I had no brothers, but I had three sisters. One, being a tad bit older than I, was a junior, and if I got in trouble at school, who went home and told mother and dad? My oldest sister. But I turned the tables on my sister.

It was in the fall of the year, and corn pickin’ season was in full blast. The leaves were showing their true colors. For some reason, some of us boys got to talking about chickens. So I asked if anybody had a bantam hen because someone had given me a bantam rooster, but I needed a hen to go with him. Nobody knew who had any bantams.

When the students came from Buchanan to graduate from high school, I got to know two brothers by the names of Murrell Colburn Jr. (everybody called him Junior), and he had a brother, Oscar. We became good friends, and we still are. I asked them if they knew anybody who had bantam chickens. Junior said, “Mom raised a bunch of bantams, and they are real small. I’ll see if she can spare a pullet. If she can, I’ll bring the pullet tomorrow. You meet me at the front door, and the pullet is yours.”

So the next morning, I waited at the front door of the high school. In a few minutes, here came the bus from Buchanan and here came Jr. Colburn with a small Zesta cracker box. This small box had holes in it, and Junior said, “Mom sent you a small pullet out of her smallest bantams and hopes you have good luck.”

So I put the pullet in my locker on the second floor. My locker number was 153. So I borrowed a padlock from a buddy of mine. He gave me two keys, one for me and one for my locker partner who happened to be the late John Smith.

All went well, or so I thought. I had study hall a half hour, then lunch, then another half hour. The study hall teacher was the legendary John Martin. John Martin was a legend all his own. He played football for Ohio State. He graduated from Waverly High School and went to Ohio State to school. He came back and became a health and physical education teacher; plus, he was lucky enough to have the study hall I was in.

Everybody was placed in alphabetical order, A to Z. You guessed it; my sister sat right behind me. Little did I know that some boys in another class had lunch after I did, and after they ate their lunch, they slipped up the stairs and somehow got in my locker and turned my little pullet out. There were over 100 students in that study hall, and after the roll was taken, John Martin said, “Let’s get quiet,” and we did. It was so quiet you could have heard a mouse go across the room.

All at once we all heard a singing in the hall. John Martin went out in the hall, and in a few minutes, he came back in the study hall and said, “Does this chicken belong to anybody in this study hall?” I said, “Mr. Martin, it’s mine.” All the class started laughing, and my sister started hitting me on the back, and she said, “Wait till I tell dad.” Her face was red, and you could tell she was really embarrassed, and so was her friend behind her.

John Martin said, “Bill Weinrich, come up here and get your chicken.”

So I went up to get my chicken, and he said to me, “Here is your chicken, and take her down to the science room. There is a cage in there.”

As I took the chicken out of his hands, he told me to report to the principal’s office.

The principal was Mr. Frank Shelby, and I should call John Martin, Mr. Martin. Mr. Shelby was a caring and fair man. If you deserved to be punished, you got punished, but if you hadn’t been in trouble you probably got a talking-to. So I sat in the office and waited for Mr. Shelby. His secretary said he would be in shortly and feared the worst. In a few minutes, here came Mr. Shelby. He sat behind his desk and said, “Bill Weinrich, I am honored by your visit, but why are you here?”

I told Mr. Shelby the story, and he did his best not to laugh. I didn’t know that Mr. Shelby had already talked to Mr. Martin and they both said I wasn’t guilty.

But my blabbermouth sister and her friend went home and told mother and dad differently. I got to spend the rest of the day with Mr. Shelby.

We had a good visit and talked about everything, about both sides of my family and whatever he wanted to talk about. I will treasure that visit for the rest of my life. As school was getting ready to close for the day, Mr. Shelby asked me if I had laying hens, and I said, “Yes, sir.”

He said, “Bring me two dozen eggs tomorrow.”

I told him they would be in his office.

The next morning I took Mr. Shelby’s eggs to him, and he asked me how much he owed me. I told him I didn’t want anything, but Mr. Shelby stuck a bill in my pocket and I didn’t look until I went to my locker. It was a $5 bill.

Mr. Shelby has been gone for many years, and I finally found Dr. John Martin. He lives in Sebring, Florida. Jerry Morkassel gave me Dr. John Martin’s address, and I wrote to him, and we write to each other pretty regularly.

What happened to the little pullet? I reckon I raised hundreds of chicks out of this pair.

I would like to dedicate this story to Dr. John Martin. Dr. John, I wish you well all the years I have known you.

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