December 2, 1997
The photo accompanying today's column shows some of the Perry school faculty members from about 1930-31. This is from the collection of the late Gertye Kobes Croka, who taught the first grade here in a three-story building that was torn down in the 1960s when the present high school campus was under construction. I wrote about "Miss Kobes" in a previous column based on my recollection of her and material passed along by Shirley Williams. Miss Kobes was Shirley's aunt. (I know that technically the name should be "Mrs. Croka," but she was "Miss Kobes" to me in the first grade 66 years ago and I will forever think of her with that name, so please indulge me in this.)
I can identify some of the folks in this picture, but other names elude me even though the faces are familiar. Maybe you can help fill in the blanks. These are the names I think I know:
Top row, from left: Marie Unzicker, typing and bookkeeping teacher; next one unknown; W. Homer Hill, superintendent; Alba Mulkey, algebra and geometry; and the man on the end may be Gully Walters, manual training teacher. Middle row: First one unknown; Miss Ruth Mohr, first grade; Miss Wilma Maggard, Mr. Hill's secretary; next one unknown; and Miss Gertye Kobes. Front row: First one unknown; Miss Bessie Barker, home economics; Miss Marjorie Laird, kindergarten; and next one unknown.
This photo and several like it will be going to the Perry Alumni Association, so if you can provide any additional information, please pass it on for the record. Thanks again to Shirley Williams for letting me see this.
Speaking of Mr. Mulkey, the algebra and geometry teacher, reminds me of a story told several years ago by my good friend, Kenny Coldiron, who had dozens of these great anecdotes. When Mr. Mulkey first joined the Perry school faculty in the late 1920s, some of the macho element among the male student body eyed him curiously. Mr. Mulkey was a thin, almost delicate man, who played the piano and spoke in a cultured tone. To some of the school jocks he seemed a bit effeminate, a "sissy." Sensing this attitude and the likelihood of student taunting, the football coach, Mr. Frank Briscoe, called the boys together. "Do you know who Mr. Mulkey is?", he asked. When they looked puzzled, he told them that "Al Mulkey" had been the light middleweight boxing champion of the entire U.S. Navy before going into the teaching profession. They got the message and accorded the new instructor the proper respect and admiration.
Far as anyone knows, Mr. Mulkey was never actually in the Navy and probably never laced on a boxing glove. But he also never had a serious discipline problem with his students in all his years here after that.