The cover story in this coming Sunday’s New York Times Magazine is entitled ‘Prep School Predators: The Horace Mann School’s Secret History of Sexual Abuse’. Amos Kamil, who left the school in 1982, names several teachers as pervs. I was at Horace Mann 15 years earlier than Kamil – class of ’67, near the bottom of the fifth quintile and a great disappointment all round – and knew a couple of them: one was waving his baton as a young music instructor and the other, a large boy, a few years older than I, Stan Kops, later became a teacher at the school. Poor Stan wound up killing himself. I believe he swam butterfly on the varsity swimming team.
As a seasoned old gent of 62 looking back, I’d say nearly half the teachers were ‘bachelors’: it was no secret what that meant. I suspect any number of them would have been quite thrilled to play pocket pool with us (aged 12 to 18). Naturally, some of us were more enticing than others, though there’s no accounting for taste. But I honestly don’t recall any ‘predatory’ behaviour when I was there – unlike some of Amil’s interviewees, I was never invited for gin and tonics or on camping trips.
One poor fellow made the mistake of bringing his camera to a junior varsity wrestling practice while Mr Quinn (‘Biff Quinlan’ in a couple of novels by Jack Kerouac, class of ’40) was elsewhere and wound up being fired, about which I feel badly, even today. I was one of those little fellas grunting and sweating on the mat, being photographed, and I have no doubt that Mr X would have had the pictures developed and enjoyed a wank, several, maybe even shared the photos with friends.
We all knew, pretty much, who was ‘a bit off’. Some of them were good teachers, some less good, some sweet-natured, some sadists. I ran across one of the more obviously gay former Horace Mann teachers out here in the Bay Area years ago, now retired, a lively teacher and admirable man in most regards, if a bit expressive in manner. He had taught my older brother, who was a beautiful-looking young thug of a boy, and me. Mr Y was quite emotional. He may have even given me a buss on the cheek. ‘I cried and cried, Augie, when I heard of your brother’s death. He was such a lovely boy. I always kept a picture of him on my desk, you know.’