Hot off the Press!
I miss you.
When we started "Formations" 5-7 years ago, it reignited memories, transference properties, and old stories (told differently every month). We've used these monthly visits to cajole, tease, support each other through crises, admire and share.
I miss that. And I miss you.
So we're going to start something here, as we await Vax #2 and the return of Formations. We're going to ask you—anybody—to share an autobiography with each of us. Tell us how you got from 1975-2021. College, armed forces, career, marriage and family, tragedies and joys? Surprise us.
Let it out. Let us get to know you. In this Group, it is just US from '75, with a very few exceptions of some very cool other-classmen, one molder of our lives, and some women whom we all love. They help us in communication.
Guess who's going first:
David Paul (Francis) Hillgrove graduated The Fort (33rd in our class, with an 89.3% GPA), and matriculated to the small teachers' school of Madison College. I had also been accepted to Tech, and I expected to go there. But I took a huge risk and it was the best early decision of my 63-year old life. (Please know, I would have loved VT as well!) That was a suggestion from Father Augustine Cunningham (our Guidance Counselor); that man always had my back, and Willie can confirm: if it wasn't for him, I would have been expelled. I got into a ridiculous and childish amount of poor behavior.
But a school of 7200 offered opportunities I couldn't have experienced at UVa, Tech, Ohio State or U of Illinois. In my four years there I played practice dummy/target practice for the soccer team (but scored a goal vs. EMC), in our freshman year.
I set up and took down for concerts (and met a LOT of cool musicians). I was on the Movie Committee. I was on the Intramural Executive Council. I helped to form the inaugural Women's Intramural league.
I was the inaugural coach for the JMU (by that time) Women's Club Soccer Team. I got to build a 48-hour major without having to take Methods or Research courses. I decided my life was going to be about high school teaching and coaching. I met my first girlfriend, who was our year at SGHS, but I never knew (of) her. I could not have asked for a better first girlfriend, as I knew nothing at all about women.
My first job was down in West Point, VA. It was a town of 2400, with a school of 305, grades 8-12. Every mother of post-HS age daughters wanted me to marry their's.
I taught three subjects—which meant I had three preps, and don't smirk at that. I coached JV football, soccer and (believe it or not, at age 23) varsity baseball. I taught night school. I taught Religious Ed to teens, and played guitar in the first folk choir.
I learned more about people and human nature there than I ever knew, but I didn't realize those lessons for a decade or more. I worked with the best coach I've ever come to know (and that's several 100 coaches, likely). My father died halfway through my 1000 day life in "The Point", and that was hard. And, quite frankly, I took to boyhood substances to escape the way I felt. Later, a student's parent with whom I was very close said "Yeah, well sometimes college habits (drinking et al) need to be left back in college."
In 1982, I returned to Richmond, and taught at a few schools. I made a few ripples coaching varsity soccer at Monacan HS, where our teams made the Regional playoffs five years in a row.
And for some reason I wanted to punish myself. So I started a soccer magazine called SHOTS On GOAL. The internet, HTML, and the WWW were isolated to universities and the Gubbmint. Desktop publishing was just coming online then in 1990, and I knew nothing about advertising, publishing, accounting, writing or photography. "So . . . let's give 'er a go, aye?"
In 1995, following the USA's hosting of the 1994 World Cup, the magazine folded, and quite frankly, I was in a deep state of clinical depression. I was supported by a beautiful soul (Dorothy), our three daughters, my God and love of God, and a fellowship that has helped many others, including my own Dad.
In 1996, I quit drinking and moke-aye-urbing (thank you Brian), and needed to try to rebuild myself. I had a few writing gigs, and I worked with Soccer America during the NCAA Final Four soccer tournament (at City Stadium)
I was a stay-at-home Dad, at least for all the summers. That was the greatest job I've ever had, and that is time that can never be taken away from us! And Boys: staying home with your own offspring and reasonable expectations for keeping a house decent and preparing meals is the hardest job in America. Book it.
I got into Educational Technology, and happened to be teaching at Tucker HS when Henrico Schools decided to be the first System in the world to "put a laptop on every desk". (I wrote that tag line. Read it again. It's funny). I got promoted through the world of educational technology, but could not be happier that I don't have to teach in today's virtual environment.
I finished up teaching and coaching at Maggie Walker, where I had the distinct pleasure of working with both Andy's daughter and Mike Huennekens daughter. I switched from working with boys to coaching women and girls when my daughters came of age. The difference between coaching men and women (boys and girls) is astoundingly fascinating. I can talk/write/babble about that forever.
I've met several 1000's of teens, coached @ 1000 kids (yep. I counted). I've seen some amazing teaching moments. I've seen some horrible ones. I've met some incredible, loving, caring educators. And I've worked with some bums. I've buried a few students, and I have at least two students who are doing 50-years for murder here in Va.
I love to read from former "trouble-makers" of mine who complain about their children, now that "my kids" are mid-50's.
I was often asked in schools "how is it that you're the only one who can deal with these asshole-miscreants?" I smile.
Teaching was it for me. I couldn't have asked for a better avocation.
So now, after giving you more info than you ever wanted . . . I'll finish. We've lived in the same house off of Robious Rd (Roxshire) for 32 years. Dorothy and I are in our 36th year of marriage. All three of our daughters went on to become educators, passing quality milestones I could only dream about. I stay in touch with 100's of students through FB. I've got you guys.
And . . . and . . . there was something about Grandchildren.
Articles – Good topics for articles include anything related to your company – recent changes to operations, the latest company softball game – or the industry you’re in. General business trends (think national and even international) are great article fodder, too.
Mission statements – You can tell a lot about a company by its mission statement. Don’t have one? Now might be a good time to create one and post it here. A good mission statement tells you what drives a company to do what it does.
Company policies – Are there company policies that are particularly important to your business? Perhaps your unlimited paternity/maternity leave policy has endeared you to employees across the company. This is a good place to talk about that.
Executive profiles – A company is only as strong as its executive leadership. This is a good place to show off who’s occupying the corner offices. Write a nice bio about each executive that includes what they do, how long they’ve been at it, and what got them to where they are.
Christmas’s Best Present
by David P. Hillgrove copyright ©2021
It was Christmastime of 1980 and times were not the best for me. My father, a dear man who had become my closest friend, was suffering through a series of strokes/heart attacks that would kill him by the end of January. His speech, motor control, memory and vision were all negatively affected by this debilitation.
His spirit, however, was not.
My father was a proud man, and a man who did things the way that he wanted them done, because he wanted them done that way. No other reason.
I visited him in his rehabilitation wing of MCV and as usual, strapped him into his tabled-wheelchair and took him for rides that Christmas. We found our way into the steam tunnels of the basements of MCV, and as you can imagine, there were a variety of paths we could utilize to accomplish his goal of “just going for a ride, to get out of the hospital”.
He lacked the arm strength to roll his own chair, so the only way my father could motivate himself was to “walk his chair” with his feet. In this department, he lacked proper footwear - wingtips have no traction and he played very little full court basketball at age 58. We needed to get him some shoes so he could make himself happier by controlling his “walks”.
I asked permission to take him out of the hospital to purchase a pair of shoes that he wanted. My request was denied numerous times. I was invited, instead, to measure his needs and return with the shoes. For my father, this was unacceptable.
The day that a man can’t pick out his own shoes is the day that he loses touch with his manhood. We devised a plan.
I cheerily told his staff that we were going “tunneling” down below. They waved and smiled as we entered the elevator; we chuckled and guffawed knowing that we were making the breakout. I had parked on the side of an emergency exit and filled the car with blankets and coats. The chair fit nicely in the trunk and the legal use of the handicapped parking space at Regency Square was kind of sneaky. We got my dad bundled for his first visit to civilization since August.
Sears was our oasis. I sent away two sales clerks that looked uneasy in fitting a man in sneakers who had obviously been smuggled out of a hospital. I found a lady with compassion. My conservative father, who never varied from the style or color of clothes and shoes, selected the strangest color blue, Chuck-Taylor-Converse-All-Star-sneakers I had ever seen. Said they would make him “stand out” in the hospital hallways.
Go for it, Dad.
We got them on him and I approached the counter to pay. Since it was a relief to have such a pleasant person understand my plight - after all, Dad looked like a wino with muscular dystrophy all slumped over in his chair like that - I took a moment to tell this nice lady how brave and cool and wonderful . . . and . . . Gonemy father was!
Couldn’t find him with a quick scan of the area. Figured he couldn’t be far, I mean—after all—where could he have gone? And besides, I had left his red-and-white wool hat on his head so we ought to be able to spot him.
With the help of the clerk, we checked the immediate proximity. Then we encompassed a wider area to search. No Dad. She called a manager, we alerted security. I am thinking “Great!”. I snuck my old man out of a hospital— against doctors orders— and he’s gonna be stuck over by the house wares with a broken catheter and a mess. I was gonna end up in the pokey and my dad was gonna have to come visit me.
Someone noticed our anxiety and asked: “are you looking for a man in a wheelchair, a wool hat and a huge smile on his face?”
“Why yes, thank you. What was your first clue?”
He pointed, I ran, and then I saw him. Trudging along methodically was the man that had taught me how to walk, heading westward. He had worked his way around the displays of Sears, and “made his break” into the general mall area. One small step at a time seemed to be no problem - the new shoes gave him traction and he was taking advantage of this new transmission.
I ran up to him—evoking some possible memory that he must have had of me, when I ran off from him, years ago.
“Dad, what are you doing?”, I said calmly.
“Crusing chicks”, was all I could get out of him. He smiled and squeezed my hand.
“You can take over now; I don’t want to wear out my shoes.”
We rode all over that mall. Went in stores with horrified clerks (My dad would play along when I would ask “Are you sure you need that nitroglycerin pill right now?”). We said hello to very young children. We made wishes in the wishing well. I needn’t bother; mine had already been answered.
He slept the whole way home; I imagine so. He had likely run a relative marathon for himself. It made it difficult to sneak back into the hospital, but the joy that I felt for my dad’s courage that day gave me strength.
It didn’t take long before we got caught. You just don’t go tunneling for four hours, and find a pair of aqua blue tennis shoes down in the sub-basement without raising suspicion. I got read the riot act about breaking the law, endangering my father, risking proper medical care.
In a brilliant choice of words, my father mustered up the strength to address the doctor. He raised his good arm, all fell silent, and he struggled to tersely state:
“Don’t you talk to MY SON that way”.
Yeah. You tell 'em Dad. What he said . . .
That breakout was the best Christmas present I’ve ever had. I lost him soon after that but it was times like that which built memories that made me strong.
I had the time to tell him everything I wanted before he passed. I was far more lucky than anyone who lost a parent in a tragic car wreck.
I still have his shoes. I call them his magic slippers.
Reminds me of that Christmas every time I put ‘em on. Puts me right in the ole Ho Ho Ho spirit.s strong as its executive leadership. This is a good place to show off who’s occupying the corner offices. Write a nice bio about each executive that includes what they do, how long they’ve been at it, and what got them to where they are.
Get advanced teaser copy from new releases!