Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Hey Pal!

Dave of The11thhour recently wrote a short about the use of the word pal. Dave, and some of his commentators suspect that pal has over time become a type of insult.

Reading Dave's post brought an immediate recollection of the person who made the word "pal" meaningful to me - Jim Belz.

Jim Belz was Dean of Men (Discipline) at Griffin High School (now Sacred Heart - Griffin) in Springfield, Illinois.

Jim Belz would sit on a wooden stool, in the main entrance hallway just outside the cafeteria, and watch for those boys (all boys school at that time) who were due a detention slip - usually for skipping class.

"Hey Pal!", he'd say.

There was no ignoring Mr. Belz. You had to walk over, and get your detention slip. The slip would tell you to show up on Saturday morning for this, or that reason, and it had to be signed by a parent.

It was a pretty good system he had there. It saved him from having to search for the students. He'd simply wait, and they'd usually pass by. Sometimes you'd manage to evade his gaze, but he'd usually catch you later in the day. He was the hunter, and we were his prey. It was all very cat, and mouse - law and order I might say.

A photo in one of the Griffin High School yearbooks from that era has Mr. Beltz sitting on that stool, and I believe the caption reads, "Hey Pal".

I never hear that phrase without thinking of the late great Mr. Belz.

Dave of The11thhour probably never served detention on Saturday morning, although if Mr. Belz had known what kinds of things Dave was up to back then he surely would have had Dave cleaning the blackboards, and waxing the floors of Griffin High - as I did many a Saturday morning.
.
.
James Belz

Mr. Belz was a fine, and decent man. I don't feel anyone could have known him any other way. Was he strict? You betcha. As an adult I realize that that type of discipline was badly needed. We needed it then, and we certainly need it now. Good thoughts, and several prayers towards you and your family Mr. Belz.

Jim Belz played baseball for the Saint Louis Cardinals briefly before become a scout for the team. He died of cancer a few years back. There was a significantly large story on Mr. Belz in the State Journal Register. He was a real fixture in the local baseball scene - a local legend. His son John William Belz is a judge.

Here's a grab from IHSA showing Jim Belz coaching tenure at Griffin. I include some of the other coaches for comparison.

Boys Basketball
.
.
As Springfield (Cathedral).....W.......L...........Coach .
1957-58 | | 19 9 | Jim Belz
1958-59 | | 18 7 | Jim Belz
.
.
As Springfield (Griffin)
.
1959-60 | | 15 9 | Jim Belz
1960-61 | | 18 8 | Jim Belz
1961-62 | | 13 13 | Jim Belz
1962-63 | | 20 6 | Jim Belz
1963-64 | | 23 4 | Jim Belz
1964-65 | | 10 15 | Jim Belz
1965-66 | | 17 10 | Jim Belz
1966-67 | | 17 10 | Jim Belz
. . . . . 170 91 10 yr .651
.
.
1967-68 | | 12 15 | Bob Martin
1968-69 | | 2 23 | Bob Martin
1969-70 | | 3 21 | Bob Martin
1970-71 | | 9 17 | Bob Martin
. . . . . 26 76 4 yr .255
.
.
1971-72 | | 8 17 | Larry Sellinger
1972-73 | | 14 11 | Larry Sellinger
1973-74 | | 6 18 | Larry Sellinger
1974-75 | | 9 15 | Larry Sellinger
1975-76 | | 10 14 | Larry Sellinger
1976-77 | R | 7 6 | Larry Sellinger [partial]
. . . . . 54 81 6 yr .400
.
.
1976-77 | | 7 7 | Bill Fleischli [partial]
1977-78 | | 15 12 | Bill Fleischli
1978-79 | R | 13 14 | Bill Fleischli
1979-80 | | 16 11 | Bill Fleischli
1980-81 | R | 24 4 | Bill Fleischli
. . . . . 75 48 5 yr .610

SCHOOL TOTAL 1006 946 76 yr .515

2 comments:

Dave said...

Hey Pal, whatever I was doing didn't take place in Belz's jurisdiction (school). Mostly.

BlogFreeSpringfield said...

Mr. Belz used to scare the hell out of me. I always felt like I was doing something wrong even when I wasn't. Then one time I saw him away from school. He had a big smile on his face and asked how I was doing. It reminded me of when Mr. T would smile, strange at first, but then oddly reassuring.

After that, I realized Mr. Belz was a nice guy. The tough sheriff act was just the best way to maintain order at an all boys school.

email jp

  • jeromeprophet@gmail.com

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