Stories from the Michigan State School for the Blind

The Big Bust!

by: Ron Milliman

Back in the days when there was a Michigan School for the Blind (MSB)in Lansing, Michigan. The junior and senior classes ran a snack stand during what we called Social Hour in the evenings. Social Hour and the snack stand were held in a large area in the dining hall. It was a way for us to generate some funds for our class treasuries, money that we used primarily for our senior class trips. As a part of the stand operations, we kept some of our inventory, like soft drinks/soda pop, in the dining hallís big, commercial refrigerator; thus, we had access to the refrigerator and freezer and could see what all was in them. It was supposed to be only food items used in the preparation of meals for the students. However, we noticed that there were lots of food items that we, the students, never got served to us, like steaks, among several other items.

We concluded that if those steaks and other items were rotating in and out of the dining hallís refrigerator and freezer, but we werenít getting any of it served to us, then, something very suspicious was going on. We decided to launch our own investigation by organizing a group of guys that had good enough eyesight to be able to secretly and surreptitiously observe the comings and goings to and from the dining hallís back loading dock at night. After all, we figured that if anything nefarious was going on, it was most likely happening at night, under the cover of darkness. We took turns working in shifts at nightwatching the loading dock. Yes, we were supposed to be in the dorm and in , our beds, but we rigged the doors so we could slip in and out without being detected and caught.

Sure enough! We observed cars and station wagons pulling into the back parking lot and backing up to the dining hallís loading dock, opening up their trunks. We observed dining hall personnel slipping into the rear entrance of the dining hall and coming out onto the loading dock and packing their vehicles with all kinds of stuff. We knew, then, our suspicions were confirmed. We took careful records, noting the dates and times of the questionable activities. After a few weeks of observations and recordkeeping, it was time to kick it up another few notches and report our findings to the schoolís superintendent, Dr. Thompson.

We requested a special meeting with Dr. T, as we called him, which he granted. We met him at his house, which was right on MSBís campus. We had copious notes, recording dates and times and descriptions of the cars and station wagons. We reported our observations of what items were in the dining hallís refrigerator and freezer on specific dates and times and how later those items were all gone and how the appearance and disappearance of the food items coincided perfectly with the comings and going at night at the dining hallís loading dock. Dr. T. listened very intently, and when we completed the report of our investigation, he didnít say anything for what seemed like an eternity, but was actually probably a few seconds, but when he spoke, he spoke in a very concerned and serious tone. We honestly thought we might just catch hell for being out of the dorm when we were really supposed to be in our beds, but Dr. T. never said a word about that. Instead, he said: ďyou know you boys have shared with me some very serious charges, donít you?Ē We said we were well aware of that, but we felt we needed to do something because we felt something very wrong was going on that he needed to know about. I must add here that in our discussions among ourselves before blowing the whistle, that we concluded that we didnít think Dr. T. was aware of it or involved. Fortunately, our conclusion proved to be correct. Dr. T. assured us that he would look into it, and he asked us to keep all of it to ourselves and to not discuss it with anyone, including the other students, to which we agreed. Although, the truth is that we already discussed it with a few other kids. He also asked us to cease our investigation; he would take it from there, again, we agreed.

After our clandestine meeting with Dr. T., we didnít hear anything about it, absolutely nothing. However, after a few weeks, we realized that several of the dining room staff were gone, replaced with new people. We tactfully asked the new staff what happened to the other cooks and dining room help, and nobody claimed to know anything about anything. We even asked a couple of the teachers we were especially close to, and they simply said something had ďhit the fan,Ē as one teacher put it, but they didnít know anything more than that. We conjectured that the dining room staff had probably all been called into a top-level administrative meeting called by Dr. T. at which time we suspected that he most likely told them what he knew, and they probably were given the choice of either quietly resigning or face former legal charges. That was Dr. Tís style of handling things. We never found out if the police ever got involved or not or if there was ever any former investigation or if our detailed report was sufficient. All we knew is that the old dining room staff were there and then, they were all gone and new staff were in their places.

So, that is the true story of the Big Bust at MSB and how a small group of disgruntled students made a huge impact on its undisclosed, off-the-record, secret history!