Suppress This, Mr. Cunningham!


Four years ago I wrote an article about a fascinating 16-year-old New Jersey kid named Sergio Bichao, who was driving his high school and local school board nuts with his Matt Drudge-style website, which denounced lazy teachers, racist security guards, and money-squandering school board members, all while he was making great grades, editing the school paper, and serving as student body president. (Bichao went on to win election at age 18 to that very same school board, where he serves as an Ayn Rand-quoting Republican in a Democrat-dominated area, while attending Rutgers.)

Anyway, among the article's feedback was an e-mail from a 60-something guy named Robert Abbott, for whom the story scratched a 50-year-old scar that had clearly not healed. In 1951, Abbott and two pals from St. Louis Country Day high school wrote a parody of their headmaster's recent state-of-the-school report, which they found particularly daft. They submitted the satire to the yearbook … and I'll let Abbott tell the story:

The yearbook editor got cold feet and went to the jerk headmaster to get his permission to print the parody. He said No and added that none of us would get our diplomas if it was printed. […]

Even worse than having our writing suppressed, I didn't have any copies of the parody, and I thought they had all been lost. Copying machines were not around in 1951. So over the last 50 years, this parody assumed mythic proportions in my mind.

But there was a happy ending:

In 2001 I attended my 50th class reunion and ran into classmate Barry Jackson. He was showing people a carbon copy of The Headmaster's Report. His mother had typed some copies back in 1951. I grabbed a copy from him and put it on my web site.

The whole world, including Headmaster Cunningham, if he still lives, can read the charming, very '50s-sounding parody here (go here for the backstory). As Abbott says,

I know I'm 50 years late with this, I know I shouldn't have stayed mad for 50 years, and I even realize our suppressed writing wasn't really that great, but doing this makes me feel a lot better.