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Charles Lee "Cookie" Thornton: A Perspective Worth Reading

Many of you have understandably had your fill by now of news related to the Kirkwood City Hall shootings earlier this month. In the two weeks since, coverage and commentary have ranged from probitive to bloviating.

At the risk of breaking the camel's back (or pounding the poor dromedary right into the ground), I suggest a read of a statement released not long after the shooting and published in the Webster-Kirkwood Times.

It's a first-person account -- not an eyewitness shot-by-shot of the mayhem but a reflection on the author's longtime relationships with Cookie Thornton (at whose funeral service he spoke) and the Kirkwood public servants he targeted.

In the interest of full disclosure, I know the writer, Franklin McCallie. Well, knew him, anyway. Before he was principal of Kirkwood High School (a position he held for 22 years), he was an assistant principal at University City High, which I, uh, sporadically attended.

During the time I was at U. City, McCallie attained legendary status among the entire student body, as a smart, sensitive and reasonable administrator. By "entire student body" I mean blacks, whites, males, females, misfits, ne'er-do-wells and fuckups. He was the embodiment of the walk softly and carry a big stick school of vice-principaling, only McCallie had no need for the stick. Dude was big. He broke up fights, no hesitation, with his bare hands. More than one kid likened him to Abe Lincoln. (The chinstrap beard-no-moustache look helped.)

He's a legend in Kirkwood as well, as a school administrator, a member of the community and an advocate for civil rights.

You can read Franklin McCallie's take on Cookie Thornton here.

-Tom Finkel


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