8th and final chapter in a series
TEACHING, COACHING, AND MARRIED LIFE
TEACHING, COACHING, AND MARRIED LIFE
In the 1960-61 school year I left the great group of basketball players in Malta Bend, a school with 75 students, when I was hired to coach and teach in Higginsville. When I accepted that job, I was warned the school was a "basketball coach's graveyard". No coach had attained a winning record in over a decade, with the average wins at five each year or less.
Several good things happened that year: Virginia and I were parents of our firstborn son, James Michael Perrine. We were so proud! At Christmas I found out our struggling basketball team was to be the recipient of a couple of brothers being transferred from Mercy Academy in Marshall... the Schwarzer brothers: George was in the tenth grade and Frank in the eleventh. With their arrival, Higginsville Huskers basketball took off and ended the year with a second-place District Basketball finish. By this time Higginsville basketball had established a firm footing, and would begin a tradition that exists today (this was written in 2006).
Our second son Mark was born in 1962 and our daughter Paula was born in January of 1967. During the summers of 1959 - 1963, I worked and earned a Master's Degree in secondary administration, which I didn't use until twenty years later when I accepted an offer to be middle school principal in Higginsville.
An observation of the 1960's: With a single salary in our family, we had to be budget minded. Virginia took in ironing and washed clothes for coaches, and babysat for a couple of dollars a day to help make ends meet. Occasionally our parents would reach out and help, or I would call my friendly banker to cover a small check for necessities that we absolutely needed. We probably grumbled about these things, but I kept the old river bottoms in mind. Virginia was a trouper I could depend on always to help raise a garden and can, or do whatever it took to allow us to "make it".
During the summer of 1967 I ran the swimming pool (or it ran me). I spent fifteen hours a day running the pool, for $100 a week.
In 1972 Virginia returned to work at Matco in Lexington, which helped our cash flow.
During the 1970's I would continue to have success as a basketball coach, but in 1979 I resigned my position as head basketball coach to take stock of myself as a person and a family leader. In 1980 I was again involved in athletics as the first athletic director in Higginsville high school history. Always before, the coaches had done their own scheduling of games, officials, buses, drivers, and all; but no more. I kept this position until 1985. I was athletic director and middle school principal from 1983 through 1988. I was also custodian at the First Central Bank from 1980 through 2005.
I didn't seek the job of middle school principal, but it was offered, and for $3,000 more, I found it hard to turn down. I did both jobs for three years, then from 1986-88, principal only. I retired from education in 1988 and can truthfully say I haven't missed it, with the exception of basketball, which I have helped with eight or nine times since, when young coaches asked me for help.
I am proud to say I was an educator. I hope I influenced my students as positively as my teachers influenced me. Upon our retirement my wife and I both became more involved in our church obligations at Grace United Methodist Church.
My longest friendship was with Dick Renno, for over sixty years. My most loyal fan was Delbert "Jim" Hough, who was a friend from high school until his death. Both Dick and Jim died of diabetic complications. I take flowers to each of their graves every Memorial Day. I miss them both a lot.
In looking back on my journey, I have clearly reported my life story as events transpired. I have attempted to give any reader an open and accurate anecdotal look at a life lived plainly but proudly, attempting to be a positive influence on those I've encountered along the way. I have tried to remember where and what I came from as a member of my family. I wouldn't change any part of my life; I am proud to leave it as it has passed along these years, just as the old Missouri River is still rolling along in the Waterloo bottoms, unfazed by the levies that try to contain it these days.
A word from Donna here
I have omitted some details of these stories for brevity's sake, all the while hoping I didn't do anything that would take away from the actual author's intentions when he wrote these stories, written for the eyes of his family. I've saved one thing for last: Let me use Jim's words one more time for this final story.
"In 1985 our daughter Paula began her struggle to cast out the rare cancer that afflicted her. That struggle ended in her death on March 25, 1986. I couldn't imagine this happening to our daughter who had so much to live for and who tried so courageously to live, only to succumb at last.
To describe her: She had many friends, some closer than others. She enjoyed sports, and was successful in basketball. She was a great competitor with deep feelings for those less fortunate. Had she lived, she would have been involved with children in some way, for she loved children. I could write a book on a daughter we no longer have except as a memory, but it is so dreadfully painful, I will resist. The pain is still there."
I personally remember Paula as a younger child, visiting her cousins next door and playing with them. I didn't really know her, but I remember she was a beautiful girl. I recall her Grandma Marie saying to me after her death, "We're not supposed to outlive a grandchild."
It's been a privilege sharing these stories with readers near and far. I want to dedicate
every stroke of the keyboard I've put into this project to the memory of
Paula Perrine, who had so much to offer the world, but was taken before
she could fulfill her role.
Thank you, Mr. Jim Perrine, for allowing me to share your story.