SEX IN THE SCHOOLROOM
Carnal capers, even murder, run rampant in our schools!
A California high school teacher made national headlines recently when Tie livened up classroom curriculum by conducting a “Little Kinsey” sex survey among his 30 physiology students.
His sin quiz got Cecil Cook suspended on charges of immoral and unprofessional conduct and set off a furor among his students and fellow teachers at Van Nuys High School, Los Angeles. Four coeds said they were “shocked” by the questions and school officials thought the passion poll was “improper.” Other students, teachers and parents thought the quiz was perfectly all right. A few even felt it “was of tremendous importance” as a guide to proper sex education techniques. And Cook himself described his survey as “a search for moral standards.”
But the results of the survey did little to justify all the lurid publicity it received. All it proved was boys are boys, girls are girls and ever the twain shall meet.
At Cook’s hearing before the school board a cynical observer commented: “He didn’t learn much from the kids. He should have polled the teachers instead.”
And there is every indication that a Kinsey-type survey of the teaching profession would, indeed, produce both startling and sensational disclosures. For when a teacher’s private life becomes public property, the result often is a sextracurricular scandal of major proportions and a torrid Inside Story.
Virginia Knew Her Biology
For example, consider the case of Virginia McManus, a stunning blonde school-marm who started her classroom career as a substitute biology teacher and soon learned there was more to biology than she ever dreamed before.
Virginia, prodigal daughter of a wealthy Chicago family, was a child prodigy at the age of 3 and an honor student throughout her student years, which ended with two degrees from the University of Chicago. After a brief teaching stint in the hinterlands, she decided to head for the bright lights of New York.
She obtained a job as substitute English teacher in Brooklyn’s William Maxwell Vocational High School. But biology remained her favorite subject.
In October, 1958, vice squad detectives caught Virginia and three other lovelies in a raid on a luxurious apartment on Manhattan’s swank East Side. The raiders accused Virginia and her playmates of being $50-a-date call girls.
Virginia denied it. She said she was simply paying a social call on the apartment owner, convicted madam Bea Garfield, when the cops dropped in.
When reporters reminded her that at least two of the girls caught in the raid were slightly less than overdressed, she replied loftily: “I am not the sort of person who would stay around an apartment where people are taking off their clothes.”
She also insisted that “the closest I ever came to mixing sex with the classroom was when, as a subttitute teacher in biology, I talked about the mating of fruit flies.”
Through her biology experiments, Virginia concluded lovebugs are loaded with much more sugar than fruit flies.
Her research was continued after she was acquitted in her first vice case. Four months later, the law grabbed her again. This time, police charged, she was cavorting in the nude with two out-of-town business- men when detectives crashed into a $350-a-month apartment she and Bea shared at 405 E. 63rd St., a few blocks from the scene of their previous arrest.
No longer a teacher but always willing to learn, Virginia was given two months in jail to study her lessons, including the one about “wages of sin.” It was quite an education, she declared 55 days later when she emerged from Cell 32 of New York’s grim old Women’s House of Detention.
“About 50 percent of the inmates are Lesbians,” the bookish blonde said. “For some of them, jail is the best place. They couldn’t enjoy themselves so much outside.”
Another New York City schoolteacher, Rosemary Spezzo, also made sensational headlines but of a tragic nature.
A third-grade teacher at a school in the Bronx, she looked like a schoolgirl herself—pretty and petite, with long black hair and soulful dark eyes. There was little time in her 24 years for love. After classes, she usually went straight home to 52 Edgewood Ave., Yonkers, where she lived with her parents. Her evenings were spent correcting class papers. She seldom went out at night, except for services or social functions at her parish church.
But the wolf came knocking at her door. He was tall, handsome Edward Eckwerth, a coffee salesman who made regular deliveries at the Spezzo home. “Sure I propositioned her,” he said later. “But she wouldn’t give me a tumble. When I caught her alone, at her mother’s house, I tried to make a date with her. I didn’t get anywhere because she knew I was married and had a kid.”
First and last time Rosemary and Eckwerth met outside her home was on June 22,1956. He saw her in a drug store while making his coffee rounds. He offered to give her a ride home in his truck. They left the store together. She was never seen alive again.
Police later charged that Eckwerth drove the timid teacher to a wooded lane near Greenburgh, N.Y.; raped her and bashed in her skull with a rock. Her nude, decomposed body was found in a shallow grave two months later, after Eckwerth had been “arrested in Portland, Oregon.
Eckwerth told police he left Yonkers on the day of the murder, went to neighboring New York City and then took a bus to Chicago. There he met another schoolteacher, a shapely blonde who was en route from Minnesota to a convention of the National Education Assn. in Portland.
They went cross-country together, registering as man and wife at hotels in Spokane, Wash.; Coos Bay, Ore., and Portland. The teacher returned to Minnesota a few days before Eckwerth’s arrest. Returned to New York, the coffee salesman was tried and convicted of murder. He died in Sing Sing’s electric chair on May 22, 1959.
And then there was the San Francisco teacher whose past was a real-life version of “My Fair Lady.”
So far as her co-workers and pupils in San Francisco’s McKinley Grammar School knew, 44-year-old Lorraine Staker was just like most “old maid” teachers everywhere. She was quiet, neat, hard-working and apparently ultra-respectable.
And then, like a bolt from the blue, police accused her of complicity in a shoplifting ring that had stolen thousands of dollars in clothing, jewelry and other merchandise from fashionable Frisco stores.
Her friends couldn’t believe she was a shoplifter. Nor could they understand how she fell into the company of the others who were arrested with her—three middle-aged former madams and an ex-convict described as boss of the hot-goods ring.
On the first count, her friends were right. She wasn’t a shoplifter. She got involved innocently, by trying to help an old friend. Her connections with the madams, however, were not so innocent.
The sensational story of Lorraine’s life, loves and lurid background became one of Frisco’s most sensational scandals. It shook up the Golden Gate City like the famous earthquake, with repercussions all the way from the fish wharves to Nob Mill.
Lorraine, it developed, had been a Hollywood prostitute in the 1930s and later became a professional party girl in San Francisco. There she met Dr. Rodney A. Yoell, a wealthy socialite and surgeon.
In 1938, when she was picked up in a vice raid on a brothel run by Marie Gifford, she borrowed $50 bail from Dr. Yoell. He learned more of her past a few weeks later when she came to him for treatment of a sprained ankle.
After a few subsequent visits, the doctor diagnosed his own heart condition and found, to his surprise, that he was in love with the pretty call girl. Though he had been married a dozen years and had three children, he decided to risk marriage, career and social position by making Lorraine his protege.
His first move was to get her out of the C.O.D. romance business. He moved Lorraine and her belongings from the raided bordello to a fashionable flat. Then he hired special teachers to give the uneducated but intelligent girl the equivalent of a high school background. Then he sent her to San Francisco State College, where she earned a teaching degree.
As medical adviser to the Board of Education, he used his influence to get Lorraine a substitute teacher’s job in the city schools. She did so well that soon she was a regular teacher in the fifth grade at McKinley Grammar School.
For 18 years, Lorraine and her benefactor led double lives, known only to themselves and the doctor’s wife. Her fellow teachers never dreamed Lorraine was the mistress of the school board physician. And the other residents of Lorraine’s apartment house never suspected her “husband” was a rich and socially-prominent sawbones. Nor did the doctor’s society friends suspect that he was living with another woman, for he visited his wife he and Mrs. Yoel often invited guests to their home and kept up the appearance of a normal marriage.
Lorraine’s record as a schoolteacher was as spotless as her past was spotted. But she still kept some of her old social contacts, unknown to Dr. Yoell. In 1957, she received a call from her former boss, ex-madam Marie Grifford. Now 62, without a bawdy house to call her own, Marie was sick, broke and despondent. Lorraine took her in, nursed her back to health, hired her as a combination housekeeper and dog-sitter for her pet Weimaraner.
Out of gratitude, Marie offered Lorraise a large selection, of expensive new gowns at bargain-basement prices. They were stolen goods, peddled through ex-convict Rinaldo (Red) Ferrari. Detective working on the shop thefts traced some of the stolen property to Lorraine and arrested her as a receiver of hot merchandise.
The shocking story of Lorraine’s past came out at the trial. It was told not by Lorraine but by Dr. Yoell, who approached two reporters outside the courtroom and told them: “I want to make a clean breast of my relationship with Miss Staker.”
Superintendent of Schools Harold Spars went to bat for Lorraine. So did other teachers, parents and school board officials. Her lawyer displayed a set of “angel wings” Lorraine had been making for a Christmas school play. But the jury, unimpressed, found her guilty of receiving stolen property. She and Marie each were fined $250 and placed on two years’ probation.
Her story had a happy ending. Mrs. Yoell filed for divorce. The doctor said he would marry Lorraine as soon as the divorce action became final.