As an English major I assumed I was either going to be a secondary school teacher or work for a publisher for a pittance. It wasn’t hard to get a teaching job in those days. Fifteen hundred of us went through ten weeks of preliminary training in the summer of 1959 while an equal number went through the winter course. One had to have a job in order to get into the summer program and the principal of the school who hired me actually cooked the advertisement to say that the applicant had to have an honours degree in English and also sponsor the school yearbook. As new grads, we all thought we were pretty smart to get jobs so easily. The truth was that anybody with a pulse could be hired. A significant number of baby boomers had just turned fourteen and were flooding the school system.
The collegiate in the west end of Toronto had a principal who had been an athlete and now was also a radio sports commentator. We could hardly recognize the semi-celebrity as the same person who sounded so solemn on the school announcements. Most classes I taught were pretty kind to the fledgling pedagogue but one class gave me a hard time. The principal came in to check me out, and after telling me about their previous capers and court appearances asked, “What makes you think you can control them when no one else ever has?” The class and I did come to a kind of peaceful coexistence and when I left, they insisted on presenting their class picture at the closing assembly.