Everybody has a story: Feigned illness gets boy out of test … and a snow day



It must have been around 1956 that I first got the idea: the ingenious (at least, I thought it was at the time) plan for how avoiding the next day’s test. I had not studied.

I had to make this work, because the nuns were not stupid. In fact, they were very scary.

I left school at the usual time — 3:15 p.m. — and rode my bike along the dirt path through Lucko’s orchard. By the time I hit the pavement at Lincoln Street, I had rehearsed my plan perfectly. I would ride the rest of the way home as fast as I could and show up at the kitchen door sweating, red and panting.

“Yes, Mom, I feel very sick. No, I do not feel like any soup. I just want to go to bed.”

After the thermometer was removed from my mouth, I caught a break as it read somewhat high.

“Up to bed with you,” she said. “I will tell your father when he gets home.”

Three restless hours in bed did not in any way relieve me of the apprehension of my father’s return home from work. After all, he was a doctor. But, I knew Mom was very convincing and that he would not want to take any more temperatures that day.

I heard him climb the stairs and smelled his ever-present pipe.

“OK, Bob, no school for you but come down and try to eat some dinner. Tomorrow, I will send a note to school with your brother,” he said.

After watching the nightly news, my dad announced at dinner, “It looks like snow tomorrow. Maybe school will be canceled. I will let you kids know in the morning when I hear the news on the radio.”

(I do not think there was morning TV news in those days. But we all remember the early-morning school-cancelation notices on the radio.)

I must have looked out the window a hundred times that night, hoping to see snowflakes falling from the sky. School and the test tomorrow would be canceled. And, miraculously, I would feel much better in the morning.

Yes, school was canceled. And, yes, I felt well in the morning. And, yes, the teacher’s note was not delivered. But at breakfast my father said, “You kids have fun in the snow, and I will come home early to take you sledding. Bob, after breakfast you need to go back to bed. It is too cold for you outside since you are sick!”

I slumped in my chair, tried not to moan and could not believe my luck. Or lack of luck. So much for having a doctor father. It was the longest day of my life — until I got to Marine Corps boot camp some 10 years later.