Accuracy, Accuracy, Accuracy

The attention to detail often demanded by teachers at East High in research papers, and by Joy Drennen for the Orange & Black newspaper and Ms. Black for The Trojan yearbook was an important foundation for my professional and academic lives.

That focus was vigorously reinforced my last two years in high school as a sports stinger for Russ Smith at the Waterloo Courier. Nothing more embarrassing or intimidating than having a coach, student, parent or alum calling to wonder what game I’d actually covered due to an incorrect score, name misspelled or attribution for points recorded for the wrong player. Unless it was Russ’s look when he passed the phone call off to me.

That obsession was a daily tool when I was a professional print and broadcast reporter, later editor and sports director.

“Accuracy, Accuracy, Accuracy” was the cardinal rule in academic research and writing. Any factual error invalidated the whole study and paper, especially in historical research.

As a college professor, misspelling a client name – it’s PROCTER and Gamble with an “e,” not PROCTOR and Gamble, a mistake I see occasionally even in professional business publications the Wall Street Journal — or other inaccurate information was an automatic “F.”

So, I’m obsessed in assuring that the historical context for your stories in The Bridge Between is accurate. That’s not always easy, given that many of the decision-makers from the decade of 1963-1973 who affected our school experiences and the community of Waterloo have passed. And that a lot of what I expected to be archival school district information hasn’t existed since the digital revolution came of age.

The Courier archives have been an absolute trove of information for verification of stories, names, dates and places. Although there have been occasions when a sequence of stories about a particular event haven’t always been consistent. I suspect, in the absence of bylines, that was a function of having had the story handed off without appropriate background.

In the third chapter, which sets up the East and West Side school boundaries, the data about where elementary schools went to which junior high schools and where the junior high schools went to which high school aren’t accurate. That problem doesn’t exist for the Catholic schools and Columbus; there was only one pathway.

It’s easier to define the educational pathway for the East Side schools for two reasons. One, all of the East Side schools fed into East High school. On the West Side, there was only West High school until 1972, when Central opened with kids from both sides of the Cedar River.

Two, I grew up on the East side. But even I wasn’t aware of all of the elementary schools whose students attended Logan Junior, much less McKinstry or Bunger. The West Side junior highs? Fuggedaboutit!!

I have managed to cadge together a list, but could use your help again in filling in the gaps and correcting the errors.

School Pathways Table_29Sep17

All of the East Side junior high schools fed into East High. The West Side is a little more complicated and the data are more confusing.

From what I’ve gathered, Edison Junior and West Junior high students attended West High. Hoover students attended West High until 1964, when Orange High became part of the system Hoover students were shifted there.

How accurate are these?

Another interesting by-product of being obsessed with accuracy and fact was research I did to verify the statement by several that housing discrimination included realtor ads in the Waterloo Courier which indicated “Attention Colored Buyers.”

I started in 1948, the year the Supreme Court ruled that restrictions for selling a house wasn’t illegal, but for the courts enforce such covenants was illegal.

The first ad I ran across was for Smith & Miller Realtors. The ads disappeared in 1958 and one of the last examples I pulled was another Smith & Miller ad.

The “Miller” of Smith & Miller was my maternal grandfather. I knew he was in realty; the agency also sold insurance. But I never knew that much about his business. I knew that he owned property in Waterloo, but didn’t learn until years later that a number of them were in the North End. And that my mother would take my sisters to collect rent for my grandfather’s widow, my mother’s third stepmother.

In talking with one of my 1966 classmates for the book, we discovered that his family had rented a house from my grandfather on Independence when my friend was in middle school. When my folks moved from Boston back to my mother’s hometown of Waterloo when I was 18 months old, guess what house we lived in for almost 2 years? Uh-huh. Small world.

I’m looking forward to your feedback here on the blog, at or Nicholas DeBonis on Facebook.

Hope your fall exceeds all of your expectations, and that you and your families enjoy blessed peace, happiness and health as we head toward Christmas and the New Year.
Where has 2017 gone, Joe DiMaggio?? And do you know that Hugh Hefner is being laid to rest next to the love of your life?
From Saint Simons Island where every day is just another day in paradise.


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