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Sun, Oct 22, 2017 03:21 AM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue

Smile Awhile


Batman


01/18/2008 - This past weekend we received a telephone call informing us that our former high school principal, Paul Wade Trimble, was recuperating from surgery in a health care facility in Lexington. When we received the message, I was visiting with Martha Ann Ward (Miss "I Bleed Blue") at her home in Waco, Ky. (For the record, Martha Ann is such a Tiger booster her cell phone plays the "Tiger Fight Song" when she receives a call.)

When we were in high school, we weren't afraid of anything. Not the boogeyman, not "raw head and bloody bones." We weren't even afraid of spiders and snakes. However, the one thing that I, and nearly everyone else who ever attended Paintsville High School feared was — Paul Wade Trimble.

When I started in middle school, Mr. Trimble had been the principal of Paintsville High for as long as I can remember. His presence was so intimidating that students actually stood back and made a path for him when he walked down the hallways, and I'm not exaggerating. I think one of the reasons kids were so frightened of him was because he never smiled.

As anyone who ever attended school there will attest, each morning when he made the announcements, the greatest fear was hearing your name ring out through the classrooms requesting your presence in the office. He didn't merely say your name, he barked it. "Sara!"

I would nearly jump out of my skin because I took that statement to mean, "You're in really big trouble, little lady." And I usually was.

One of the first times I got into trouble with Mr. Trimble was when my 7th grade science teacher, Mr. Burchett, sent me to the office for talking in class. (Imagine me talking!) Mr. Burchett warned me, but when another student asked for a stick of gum and I answered her, he sent both of us. When I tried to explain to Mr. Trimble that I wasn't talking and that I was only replying to a request, he gave me the standard punishment which consisted of cutting your grade for the six weeks by a 3 and a third. For those of you who weren't subjected to it, a 3 and a third was a half grade letter cut in all your classes if you were late for class or homeroom three times in one six week period. Other indiscretions also merited this type of reprimand, but this is what most students received. In other words, a B went to a B-.

Another time he caught me off-guard was when I was standing up on the desk in Speech class singing a song. While I performed, Mr. Trimble stood outside the door watching me through the glass. When I saw him, I jumped down and returned to my seat, fully expecting to hear my name being announced later in the day, but it never happened.

During my senior year, Martha Ann Miller Ward and two of our trusted friends made a trip to Prestonsburg in anticipation of painting graffiti on their high school. We had a sports rivalry with the "Blackcats" that spanned several decades and we wanted to continue the tradition of whitewashing "Go Tigers" and "Go Big Blue," on the facade. Unfortunately, or fortunately, we were picked up by the local police and escorted out of town. Luckily, Mr. Trimble never sanctioned us for our involvement in this act, but for a long time Martha Ann was scared that he would find out and ask her to turn in her cheerleading uniform.

As a term of endearment, Mr. Trimble was known throughout the student population as "Batman." I don't know how he received this moniker, but if I had researched it I'm sure I could have easily found out. However, none of us knew that he even suspected that he had been given the daring nickname. But one morning during a pep rally, the curtain on the stage opened up and Mr. Trimble, clad in a Batman costume, leapt from the stage and into the unsuspecting audience. The students rose to their feet and applauded his grandiose gesture that endeared him to many from that day forward. The gig was up. He did indeed possess a sense of humor under that stern demeanor.

Mr. Trimble served at a time when corporal punishment was still enforced; when teachers weren't allowed to take sick days (or so it seemed because they never missed) and when students were disciplined at home as well as at school. Whether you got along with him or not, Mr. Trimble garnered respect from the students and the faculty alike. And as far as I'm concerned, he will always be the quintessential disciplinarian. And if you want to let him know how much he impacted your life, send a card to him at: Kenton Healthcare Center, Room 2A, 353 Waller Avenue, Lexington, KY 40503.

From Martha Ann and myself, "Get well and come home soon, Batman!"

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