Spruce View School Class of '65

Class Room Stories

by Barry Sloan

I grew up in a hamlet in rural central Alberta and was always envious of city kids with schools that offered "shop" classes. The only class I had available that wasn't reading, writing, math or science was phys-ed, but this didn't help much as I wasn't very good at or interested in sports. I would have loved to have been able to take shop and didn't care much if it was wood working, metal working, automotive or what ever and could have cared less that credit would have been received towards a high school diploma. I would simply have liked to have been able to learn and do things that I loved and have often wondered if I would have ever left school if shop had been available.

But I did have the advantage of being able to play with just about anything that I found interesting in my school because my father, in addition to being the science and chemistry teacher, was the vice-principal and shared responsibility with the principle to run the school. But interesting items always inspired me to do interesting things with them and this occasionally lead me to get into mischief. I was always careful not to damage or destroy anything and my mischief never got me into trouble, but it did result in a few incidents that ended up being quite funny - once they were over and the smoke cleared.....

Our biology teacher was a new teacher at our school that was teaching for the first time. She was young, pretty, and caught the attention of all the boys with the tight sweaters that she liked to wear. She taught biology in the science room and at the front of the room there was a real skeleton that sat in a chair and "begged" for a "slight modification" each time I saw it until I just couldn't resist the temptation any longer.

I had built a FM radio transmitter that was just waiting for the right application to be used. It was the 60's so it had a tube and required AC power to operate. I found a use for the transmitter the moment that I realized science room desks had AC outlets. I hid the transmitter in my desk and plugged it in. I could now operate it without the teacher knowing by hiding the microphone in my hand and it's cord under my shirt where it ran up my arm and down to my waist where it connected to the transmitter.

The skeleton was next and a transistor FM radio was installed under the seat of the skeleton's chair and a wire was run from the radio, through the skeleton's hollow spine, to a speaker placed in the skull. I was finished until I noticed that the skeleton's jaw was hinged and supported half open by springs and that a slight force caused the jaw to move, up and down, as if speaking. To animate the skeleton, in addition to making it speak, was too good to pass up so I also fed the speaker signal to a coil placed in the skull that affected a small magnet in the lower jaw. Now I was finished, so I tested my creation by speaking into the microphone. Success! My voice came from the skeleton's head and it's jaw moved up and down as I spoke. I could hardly wait for the next biology class. I planned to ask a question that would cause our biology teacher to touch the skeleton and, when she did, speak into the mic and say "Don't Touch Me!"

The opportunity to try this gag never developed during my next class so during class room changes I quickly explained, to the girl that sat at my desk in the next class, what I had set up and hoped that she would be more successful. I had turned the microphone gain control down to prevent unwanted noise from the skeleton during the class change and told the girl that she would need to turn the gain back up before she spoke, but she turned the gain up too high which resulted in audio feedback and the speaker in the skeleton's skull emitting a loud squeal. I was told (as I never had the chance to see the result of all my hard work first hand) that the haunting squeal from the skeleton caused our biology teacher to panic and run screaming from the science room into the hallway. In the school office my father heard her screams and rushed to see what the problem was. After calming her down he checked out her claim that the skeleton had screamed at her. Seeing the radio and other items that I had added to the skeleton, he knew immediately who the only person that could have done this was. He then returned to the hallway to try and assure the poor biology teacher that the skeleton was harmless and that there was nothing to fear. But he was unsuccessful and finally ended up having to remove the skeleton from the science room and promising her that it would never be brought back before she would return to the science room and continue teaching her class. I was then called down to the school office to explain.

Eventually our biology teacher did allow the skeleton to return, but it had to remain in the science room's storage room and the storage room door had to always be kept closed. She was never really happy with the skeleton being in there and always kept an eye on the storage room door. Needless to say, she never went into the storage room.

Backpacks are popular now, but in the 60's a briefcase was what everyone used to carry their books. Our grade 11 home room teacher was a new teacher, not much older than ourselves, who we socialized and got along well with. He liked to play practical jokes so I decided to see how he would react to having one played on him. I built a harmless high voltage generator and connected it to two fine invisible wires; each run along the side of one of the two handles on my briefcase. Fingers are normally wrapped around a handle when picking something up so, picking up my case would result in receiving a nice "surprise". I then "accidentally" left my briefcase sitting on the teachers chair, because, from past behaviour, I figured he would grab the briefcase by its handles and hurl it across the front of the room. But not this time........ He out smarted me and asked if the owner of the case would like to come and please remove it from his chair. Later I asked why he hadn't picked up the case and hurled it like expected. He explained that he recognized my case and had a feeling that I was up to something so it might be best, and a wise thing, to not touch it. I explained what would have happened if he had grabbed the handles and that it was unfortunate that he had missed his chance to experience a "great sensation"!

 In case you are wondering - NO, I did not receive a shock when I retrieved the case because I knew, and one quickly learns, when carrying an "activated handle" to keep my fingers flat and under the handle rather then wrapping them around it. My friends and I had a lot of fun with the gag briefcase and a number of people experienced the "great sensation" that it provided!

Last update: March 27, 200911:36:55 AM

Copyright 2004 by Barry Sloan