Some time in 1970 ‘research’ articles began to appear on the front pages of the Minneapolis Tribune, the city’s morning paper. They were titled: “THINK YOUNG”. The name attached to them was a local reporter new-name, Molly Ivins.
She had been given permission by the City’s School Administration to interview students at West Senior High School, a venerated old building in the city’s wealthy Lake of the Isles area called Kenwood…..a rich but dogmatically Liberal area whether Democrat or Republican. My wife and I lived there as an economic exception. The Superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools lived there also, barely a block from our house. He had bought his home from U.S. Senator Walter Mondale. (We afforded the neighborhood from savings we had collected over the years, and because we bought before house values in Kenwood began to sky rocket…..as our luck would have it. Our first born arrived late 1965.)
Sometime later that year Mr. M who in 1967 was made principal at Edison High School where I taught, by now in my sixth year, sent out a notice to all teachers of social studies, about ten of us in all. He notified us that the assistant Superintendent of Schools, Mr. V, who preceded Mr M as Edison’s principal, directed Mr.M to make our senior social studies classes open to interviews by (the same) Molly Ivins of the Minneapolis Tribune for her front page column, “THINK YOUNG”. The students were to be selected by Ms. Ivins at random from a list of names of students assigned to our classses.
I was a regular subscriber to the Tribune in those days. I had read every one of Ms. Ivins “Think Young” columns on its front pages. Each and every column included a statistical ‘result’ of the 17 year olds’ sexual habits based on her interviews held in some dark schoolroom far away from parental scrutiny but authorized by the city;’s public school administration. Leading lefties of the day, especially those rioting at the University of Minnesota joined the drugged and vulgars opposing the Vietnam War business, all gave raving reviews for Molly Ivins’ ‘innovative’ work.
The Minneapolis Tribune seeking modernity, basked in the newly found light beaming from these Leftwing war protests and the venom spewing from its femininazi fanatics.
In other pages of this same Minneapolis Tribune were full page articles covering a noted female of college fame who demanded the music composed by Ludwig von Beethoven be banned from the public ear because its rhythms and beats were a sexual assault upon women. His music, in this feminazi’s words, was raping her.
I also knew the name Molly Ivins from these antiwar rioters. She was as ugly and vulgar as ugly and vulgar could be even by the standards of the feminist movement era. I added that along with her Tribune prurience in teenage sex. If I wouldn’t have allowed a Church figure to conduct such interviews during my students’ class time, why would I allow this Ivins to see them in isolation? And, they were indeed my students during the hours students were assigned to me to teach or otherwise be responsible for.
I had learned tenacity as a teacher at Edison by then. I had been elected by my fellow teachers, ‘Charirman of the Faculty Council’. Since my arrival at the school I had nagged my fellow teachers that they were serfs in the world of education, and didn’t deserve even the thin pay that they were getting. They were professional cowards, I taunted. Big on the noise when no administrator was in sight, but melted into childlike obedience when one approached nearby.
It was in this same year, 1970 when the Minneapolis teachers broke Minnesota state law and went out on strike. I became a speaker and writer of letters defending the action. I was never more proud of my fellow teachers, both male and female.
During this time I got a call from the city’s evening paper’s prep sports reporter, Joe Kaplan. The official School Board and Administration Line during and before the strike was that the Minneapolis Schools were the equal of any and all public schools in the area in facilities and educational offerings. This was an absolute lie, and Joe Kaplan knew it . Since I coached the boys’ tennis team, he asked me about our tennis budget and how it compared to the suburban high schools around Minneapolis. I happened to have the figures at hand. I was at the time vice present of the State High School Tennis Coaches Association. Our budget at Edison was still at $90 for the entire tennis season. Nearly all of the schools in the suburbs started at $2,000 and some went up from there. Furthermore, they owned their own tennis courts. City schools had none but could use the public city courts for an hour or two after school hours.
Joe cited my comments in his column in the next day’s issue. He wrote it as I told him accurately and sympathetically. Later in the evening I got a call at home from Mr. V, the principal of Edison High School during my first three years, the guy who approved my tenure. “Did you read this evening’s Joe Kaplan article?……Did he report what you said to him accurately?” He may have asked yet another question or two along similar lines….I answered yes to each question and added that I thought Joe wrote a terrific article….which he did, but I think I said it to irritate Mr. V. It is what he said next that turned out to be important:
“I am going to get you. Some day I’m going to really get you and don’t you forget it.!”
I passed it off as management-labor tensions during a very emotional strike, an illegal one to boot. It was Easter vacation time plus two weeks or so on the picket lines…..and in the speech halls, if I remember correctely. Compromise was made and we teachers went back to school officially without tenure, but in agreement between the Teachers’ Union and the Minneapolis School District, everyone’s tenure would be honored…….
Well, everyone’s tenure but for one teacher…..guess who got the ‘honor’?
I cannot remember if the Molly Ivins issue came before or after the strike, but I am thinking it followed the strike. One was not connected in any way with the other as far as I knew.
I wasn’t angry when I entered Mr. M’s office. to inform him I wasn’t going to release anyone in my class for the Ivins’ interviews. He said he was expecting me to protest the previous week and wondered what delayed me. His question flowed smoothly into my answer, “Because I have no intention to allow any students out of my class to visit with Ms. Ivins.
Mr. M paled. His head dropped onto his hands. “You can’t do that, Glenn.”
“Oh, yes I can. I wouldn’t let a clergyman take kids willy-nilly from my classroom for private interviews.
What do you think you’re going to look like to the parents when they read that you allowed your students to be interviewed in your school by this foul mouthed frump cozying up to their sons and daughters to get them to describe how and with whom they have sex? How dare ‘they’ dump this on us! (I was referring to the downtown administration brass.) Don’t you even think of asking me to join in. I am not going to have my students participate.”
“I have no choice.!” this good man exclaimed…..and this principal was such a good guy. I often felt bad being an adversary of his, but not this time. He wasn’t a real confident Principal with these, his ’superiors’. He craved for peace at his school at a time when peace in schools was becoming impossible.
“How do the other social studies teachers feel about the Ivins’ interviews?
“None of them like it, but they won’t object.
“How many student hours altogether are the interviews supposed to take?”
“Each interview is to run about a half an hour. Ivins wants eight to ten students picked at random from each senior social studies class.” That meant about twenty five hours minimum of student time would be taken from my classroom. And here is what I advised and did so forcefully:
“Here is what you say to those people: ‘I’m getting a little static from some of my social studies teachers on the Ivins’ interviews. You’re going to have to give me more time to persuade them.”
And then one of those far too infrequent moments in life when one actually does come up with a verbal ‘coup de grace’ when needed, I said, “Tell the administration that we teachers will have to get parental permission first. Sex is such a delicate, personal topic for an interview with a stranger!” And I truly meant it as a threat.
It was the avenue out of the issue. It made Mr. M’s day as well as my own. We knew we had a winner. By the next day the downtown ’authorities’ told Mr. M, they would delay the interviews. About a week later, he received an incidental notice that the interviews had been cancelled. No reason was given. He always gave me the idea he liked me being around. I felt I was helping him as a colleague. Schools would be better places for learning if teachers weren’t treated like serfs. Unlike Mr. V., Mr. M never treated me like a serf.
The following is an article written by Dave Mona, once a Tribune colleague of Molly Ivins written in 2007 shortly after her death:
“Molly Ivins Teaches Us New Words
She was totally unlike any new hire in recent memory. When The Minneapolis Tribune hired someone from “outside the market,” it was a good bet they were talking about Fargo, Des Moines or Madison.
Molly was from Texas and you couldn’t miss her.
She was loud. She didn’t sound like anyone else in the newsroom and she was tall. If she were a basketball player, which legend said she was, she would have been a power forward.
Molly taught us all how to swear.
She was good at it, and she knew words we’d never heard before.
It was difficult for Molly to complete a sentence without swearing. Her favorite word was “sumbitch,” which we learned could be either good or bad. For instance: “That dumb sumbitch was so stupid he could dive off the dock and not find water.” Or, “…you had to admire the way that sumbitch could put words together.”
For much of her brief tenure with The Tribune, she was assigned to the police beat. They clearly didn’t know what to make of her, but legend had it that they named a pet pig “Molly” in her honor.
There was little factual support for stories about Molly. She became a bit of an instant legend.
Stu Baird, the genial City Editor, once claimed that he had gotten a complaint from the police that her language was too salty. He never offered any proof, but there was little reason to doubt it.
After graduating from Smith College, getting a Master’s in Journalism from Columbia University and spending a year in France, she joined the Tribune in the fall of the year, arriving from Texas without an overcoat.
A few weeks later she entered the newsroom in a floor-length reddish orange maxi coat which nicely matched her red hair. As she walked slowly through the newsroom, Frank Premack shouted, “My, God, it looks like a bad paint job on the Foshay Tower!”
Molly’s response to one of the most senior members of the newsroom staff was that he perform an impossible anatomical feat upon himself.
There were a lot of rumors about Molly. She once admitted to shoving Linda Johnson (the President’s daughter) into a lake at summer camp.
When Molly left the Tribune she wrote a magazine article called “The Minneapolis Tribune Is a Stone Wall Drag.” It chronicled her three years at the paper and the reasons so many people left. Today, many of us still have copies of that story, and we were saddened in January 2007 to learn of her death at age 62 from an aggressive form of breast cancer.
Her columns were carried in more than 400 newspapers, and her numerous obituaries carried a number of her better quotes.
She loved to attack Texas politicians and once wrote of one, “If his IQ slips any lower we’ll have to water him twice a day.”
While covering emerging politicians in Texas she began to refer to President George W. Bush alternately as “Shrub” or “Dubya.” Upon his election as President she referred to him as President Billy Bob Forehead.
To Ivins, Arnold Schwarzenegger was “a condom filled with walnuts.”
Writing about Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky affair, she referred to his character as “weaker than bus station chili.”
Molly was one of the great characters to grace this region, and she left us far too soon.”