It has been 10 years since I left the Mary Davis Home in a Knox County Early Retirement program. Three others took the same deal, Pat Johnson, Administrative Assistant, Rebecca Simmons, Assistant Superintendent, and Randy Storm, Superintendent.
These pictures were taken of our last day on the job. There was a reception at the Home for the public and for those who worked in probation and corrections around the state. Following all that there was a going-away/retirement party at Cherry Street that went well into the wee hours, I heard later.
Pat, Myself and Rebecca decked out in our finest to greet well-wishers.
Another picture of the foursome, this time Randy joined us.
I'm a people person, but small talk and greeting people, being "on", wears me out, and you can see it in my face. A kind of let-me-out-of-here, let's-have-a-beer kind of facial glaze is setting in.
I remember being incredibly nervous and if given the opportunity I would gladly have gone on down to tap the kegs at the bar rather than the all afternoon hug-a-thon that I had to go through. It was also nerve-wracking in that for the first time in almost 3 decades, I would be having a transformation in my life.
After being a counselor right out of grad school, and then Supervisor and finally Program Coordinator, I wouldn't have anywhere to go on Monday.
What I would do the rest of the summer, ten years ago, was to plant may ass in a padded leather seat and go cycling to Wisconsin, Utah, South Dakota and Arkansas in four separate trips. More on that this summer, but for today I want to talk briefly of my stay at the Mary.
I walked in the place for my first day of work on Halloween, 1977. It was a County facility more than anything and wasn't at all like the State-County entity that it would become later. We were basically young people watching over young people and hoping to make a difference in their lives by teaching them how to control their anger and how to see their actions as deterrents to happiness. We used Reality Therapy as a modus operandi and in my estimation, it worked. I was then and still am, a great believer in Paul Glasser's work involving the evolution of RT and its descendant manifestations.
From the original cast members which included John Pogue, Jim Glasnovich, Rebecca, Jeff Sutor and Marilyn Tapper, and of course Randy. Through the years staff members came and went, but through it all, I always admired the ones who gave it their all and realized that we were in a damn lucky job: to help young people open their eyes to themselves. And maybe, just maybe, provide tools to help them on the outside when old behaviors kicked in.
I consider myself to have been very lucky, to do the work I did and with some amazing co-workers. I close with some words from a buddy of mine who remains in my sphere, Jeff Sutor. Jeff and I had the same philosophy in dealing with the kids and these words, written recently by him about my work could easily be describing his as well:
"You were very good at what you did. It was always my pleasure to work with you. Someone who understood that the rules are a framework and not absolutes to be imposed with no consideration for individuals or circumstances. The job required thought and empathy. They were attributes that many we worked with lacked at times. You always saw the bigger picture. The possibility that could be reached, the change that was possible with firm and caring guidance. You were good Mike, very good."
The Mary, the kids I worked with, my boss, and my co-workers are the real reason I made counseling my career. I wouldn't, I couldn't have hoped for a better way to spend three decades.