Transcript for the Piece Audio version of StoryCorps: Walt Shaffner
WS: Dad was a real fan of that principal in the movie, it was "Lean on Me". The principal used to walk the halls with a baseball bat and bullhorn. When I got the promotion to assistant-principal, I got this box, there was this tiny megaphone, little toy thing, and a tiny toy baseball bat. He sent a note with it.
It says, "Dear Walt, many more happy ones when you get your next promotion to principal, I'll make it real, bullhorn and ball bat. Love, Dad."
So I had that thing, I stuck it in the window, it's kind of faded and then of course just a few years later, dad passed away, very unexpectedly. It was a quick thing. I did get a principal-ship, just before dad had passed away and if you remember there were all of us assembled at church, and then we came back from the church and Mom made us all sit down in the living room and then she brings out this box and a note card and it was a real baseball bat and bullhorn.
This note says, "Congratulations. I'm proud of you, Walt. You've earned the real thing. Love, Dad."
It was a hard thing to speak at that time, even now. Years later, I would move from school to school. In those moves I kind of lost the notes. I was upset about that, you know you pack things up and move to another school. A few years ago, I was packing my supplies at another school I was at, and I came across the notes. As I took them out to look at them I noticed something strange. The handwriting was different on the two notes. What I got out of it was the fact that, Mom was aware of the promise. The second note, mom wrote. To this day I don't know if Dad bought the things and was going to give them to me or if mom bought them as a response.
I think the fact that mom had the wear-with-all to sit down and write this as she was grieving for her husband with her children there, was remarkable.
That one was kind of a powerful one for me. The power of a promise kept.Back