Memoires 35

Pocatello to Las Vegas

I had moved my wife to Pocatello and she had gotten a job as a secretary in the Admissions office at ISU. We only had one car so I'd drop her off in the morning, teach, then pick her up after work. I usually got there before her day was over and hung out to wait for her. Her office was next to the placement office and I always looked over the list of who was coming to interview. When I saw Clark County, Nevada (Las Vegas) was coming I set myself up with an interview, especially after I saw their salary schedule - $8300! I'd be rich!


Bill Bietz, an ex Idaho football player, then a high school principal at Clark Hight School in Las Vegas interviewed me. He was running late and I had to tutor (my second job) so I asked him if I could make my interview later. He suggested I come back at 9:00 when he finished all the other interviews and he'd interview me last. At 9:00 I showed up and his first question was, "Do you drink beer?" I was taken aback. I knew Vegas had a heavy Mormon population but to ask such a question was outrageous. Still, I wanted the job, but did not want to lie so I said, "Yes sir. I do have an occasional glass of beer but do not drink habitually."


He then said, "Would you like one? I have 2 six-packs on ice in the bathroom tub and after a long day I'm dying for one." So we had a few beers and he told me I would be placed on the CCSD "Hire" list and to call down in April for my assignment.


Shortly after that that interview my father-in-law, who'd had a heart attack, took a turn for the worse. My wife's uncle was the superintendent of the Jordan School District, south of Salt Lake City. Her family prevailed on him to offer me a job so we could be near her father in his dying days. I phoned the Clark County School District Personnel Department and they agreed to keep me on the inactive list until the following year.


I taught elementary school for one year in the Jordan School District. During that year, in the springtime, the principal called me into his office and said, "Andy, we really like your leadership abilities and would like to promote you to a principalship. You have all the qualities we are looking for but before we could make such an appointment you would have to become active in "the church"


I did not break stride but said, "Thank you Brother Ashman. Let me go home and study and pray about it." (That is Mormon code for I'll do it but need a little time). I went home, called the Clark County School District, and told them to activate my file. Within 30 minutes my phone rang and Galen Good hired me sight unseen as a sixth grade teacher at Rex Bell Elementary School in Las Vegas. I finished the year in Utah, tied up loose ends over the summer (my father-in-law had passed away by this time) and planned to move to Vegas in August.


By this time we had been married for three years and were childless. This was a sign of something amiss in the Mormon culture and my wife was being pressured unmercifully because she was not yet pregnant. As for me, whenever anybody had the audacity to ask me why we were childless I would say that my wife had failed the blood test and syphilis often makes one infertile. They rarely asked a second time. But I was sensitive to the pressure she was under and so I went to her family's lawyer, an elderly gentleman with whom I'd become friendly. I told him that we were interested in adopting and that we had placed our names on the Catholic Welfare list and been told it was a 3-year wait. We'd placed our names on the Utah welfare list and been told it was a 7-year wait. I asked him if as an attorney and trusted LDS elder, he knew of any situations in which a baby might become available for adoption through the church network. He pulled out a pad and pencil and asked, "Gender? Hair Color? Eye color?" etc. I told him that since my ex was blonde, blue and fair, and I was black, brown, and dark, anything between albino and negro would work. I said I'd sort of like a boy, but that was just 51-49 and either would be fine.


One month before we were to move to Vegas he called and said that we needed to be at a hospital in Tustin, CA by 10 the following morning to pick up our baby boy. He was the product of a high school romance and the girl was LDS. We got a complete dossier on her but she knew nothing about us - I always thought that was unfair. We borrowed a car crib from a cousin and drove to Orange County where we picked up our 3-day old boy and after a visit with my brother-in-law and his 12 children we drove back to Salt Lake City. We moved to Vegas a month later and 9 months and 2 weeks after our son was born, Sherma had a baby girl at Las Vegas Sunrise Hospital.


Still, after four years of teaching under contract I had not student taught but discovered that in most states, if one teaches three years under contract, student teaching is waived. Also by this time I had teaching credentials in Pennsylvania, Idaho, Utah, and Nevada. I find it ironic that although I never student taught I would eventually be in charge of the student teaching program at Nova Southeastern University.

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