February 9, 2013: Mary L. Wagner



Mary L. Wagner...Mary L. Wagner...Mary L. Wagner...

I have written (and practiced) that signature many times as a teenager. I was reminded of my errant ways when I ran into a friend, and former Remsen neighbor, last night. Back in the day, Jim not only had the distinction of having a dad as mayor, but also had a mom who served as high school secretary. As I asked Jim about his parents, I could picture his mother's look to me as I would hand over my fictitiously signed notes from home.

"Sandy has my permission to leave school at 2:00 today for a orthodontist appointment. Sincerely, Mary L. Wagner" was a common note. Very common. In fact more common than the ortho appointments. Senior skip days, sunny day plans for hanging out at the sand pit...all perfect opportunities for an alleged appointment to escape end-of-the-day study hall and algebra. Sr. Margretta believed in self-study and didn't teach her math class anyway. In my high school mind, I caused no harm.

Audrey Matgen was simply doing her job as secretary as she took my notes from home. But she had my card. No doubt about that. Her look said it all. Audrey knew that Mary L. Wagner had no clue that a note was being submitted to school. She saw through my forgery, but never ratted me out. She just took the note and gave me a stern look in return.

I feel dirty telling my stories of falsification and deceit, but it's time to come clean. The pinnacle of my forgeries is a classic tale for the Class of 85. It involved the St. Mary's cheerleaders and a purported cheerleading camp at Lake Okoboji. In the days pre-computer, I used a typewriter to create parental authorization sheets for this made-up cheerleading camp.

After I painstakingly typed the individual forms for each cheerleader, we each gathered our parental consent. This time the signature was an authentic Mary L. Wagner. It was the form that was the fraud. They must have been well drafted, as we were given no push back from our parents. Instead we received spending money and a signed authorization.

Word got out to both high schools of our shenanigans. Teens came in droves to Okoboji that weekend. Some for the day and others with added manipulation of tales of overnighters at each others homes. It was a huge party at Fillenwarth Beach. Lora was resourceful in securing a cabin with her parents credit card. That feat earned her the only backlash from our juvenile delinquent ways.

Note that we did indeed cheer in our swim suits on the beach many times that weekend; so not to be considered complete frauds. After returning home that Sunday night (extremely exhausted, but nicely tanned), I distinctly remember my mom asking me how cheer camp went. I told her the obligatory "great" and went straight to bed.

About ten years ago I confessed my wayward ways to my mom, including the fictitious cheer camp. Her response? "You don't need to tell me any more stories like these. I'd rather not know." So noted.

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