Poorman’s Radio Days: How I left Private School and Got Bounced From Boarding School

Pain in the class! Photo illustration by Federico Medina.

Before I was “famous,” I always knew I was different and super creative. I didn’t know what I was going to do; I just knew it wasn’t going to be a 9-to-5 job. This belief existed from the time I was a little kid. I wrote my first book at the age of 10 titled George and the Poo Monsters. This 110-page, handwritten-fiction novel chronicled a young George and three fellow kid friends defending themselves and the world against an entire alien planet. They landed their spaceship on the planet after taking off from Earth. The four friends immediately encountered a terrifying menace. They defended themselves against attacking Poo Monsters who wanted to destroy them and were able to overcome insurmountable odds by slaying thousands of these creatures without sustaining a single casualty. I’m not sure if this unpublished book still exists, but possibly my mom has it. I’m sure if I find this rare masterpiece, the good folks at OC Weekly will insist I transcribe excerpts for publication in my weekly column.

I was always a non conformist but in unique, bizarre ways. My parents sent me to a private school named John Thomas Dye in Los Angeles. I spent my 6th and 7th grade years there with poor grades and notorious classroom behavior. While in class, I would raise my hand and ask non-stop questions to the point of abject annoyance from teachers and students alike. In addition, I had bad allergies, resulting in fits of sneezing. Sometimes, I would sneeze more than 100 times in a single classroom session. My parents, who are extremely straight laced, decided I needed a change at the end of my 7th grade year. They sent me away at the age of 13 to spend 8th through 10th grades at an all-boys boarding school, where I would (hopefully) learn discipline and good study habits. This was Webb School in Claremont. My parents’ hopes didn’t quite materialize. I was kind of an outcast, not a very popular kid. I also was extremely homesick. The school meted out discipline that today would be considered hazing. You had to be in your room by 9:30 at night. If you were even 30 seconds late, an upperclassman (11th and 12th graders) titled an ‘honor committeeman’ would have you bend over and hold your ankles while he spanked your butt as hard as he could with a handmade, thick wooden paddle. It stung so bad, producing giant red welts and bruises on my ass every time. I got “swatted” a lot. It sucked!

During my three years at Webb, my rebellious streak materialized in a way that nobody could have predicted. The school had what was referred to as a “demerit system.” You would receive demerits for everything from bad behavior to personal hygiene. If you received too many demerits, you would get kicked out of the school and/or lose one of your holiday weekends. This meant you couldn’t go home to visit your parents and had to stay at Webb while most of the rest of the students were away. I received enough demerits to lose a vacation and ultimately got kicked out of the school after my 10th grade year. How did I get so many demerits? I got them by always being late and having a messy room. We had daily room inspections. I’m happy to report that nothing has changed to this very day. Yes, I’m still a slob, and almost never on time. Without realizing it, that’s how I rebelled against the system at Webb at age 15. Another student who was kicked out of the school for different reasons during those years has a name you might recognize: David Lee Roth.

Just so you know, getting kicked out of school at a young age is very traumatic. Before you feel sorry for me though, I got the ultimate revenge 15 years later while at KROQ. Webb School contacted the radio station to hire the “Poorman” (me) to host one of their dances. They had no idea they were hiring a guy they kicked out of the school a decade earlier. I got paid $500 to host the dance for two hours. I couldn’t wait to return! The Dean of Students, Mr. White, was the same dean who kicked me out. How ironic is that? When I got there, I got on the mic with a booming sound system in the Webb School gymnasium and started screaming “Hey, Mr. White! I’m Jim Trenton, remember me! You kicked me out, and now I’m back.” I then addressed the crowd of several hundred students and their dates. “Hey everybody, let’s give a big boo to Mr. White who kicked the Poorman out of Webb!” The crowd went nuts, and Mr. White left the gym. What’s even better, the students had so much fun that they hired me back the following year and paid me another $500! That year, Mr. White did not even show up at the dance at all. I heard he was hiding all night inside his house on campus.

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When Poorman doesn’t have his feet in the sand, you can find him on the air Monday-Friday 7am-9am at KOCI hosting Poorman’s Morning Rush – Orange County’s only morning drive show. His show brings plenty of excitement, and of course, the Poorman’s aura of unpredictability –  both good and bad – that has defined his legend! Email Jim “Poorman” Trenton at pooorman@aol.com to request a song or submit music.

One Reply to “Poorman’s Radio Days: How I left Private School and Got Bounced From Boarding School”

  1. My first encounter with Webb was through fellow freshmen at LSJU. I had never heard of the school while attending Dominguez High School in Compton. It was also the first time I had ever been discriminated against. There were a lot of different, private institutions attended by many Stanford students. They weren’t impressed by my lowered, pinstriped ‘65Chevy with the metal-flaked roof. My chrome 45 rpm record player was under the dashboard on the passenger side. It was best used as a chrome mirror to look up my bitch’s skirt.
    It didn’t take long for me to see the light. First order of business was to dump my ‘65 hoopty in favor of a ‘68 VW bug. The natural progression was then on to an obligatory VW Bus.
    You know the old cliche, when in Rome… etc. I grew my short hair long, started smoking pot, and left the football team. Our fraternity, Beta Theta Pi, lost its charter for being an essentially rowdy drinking house.
    College was a great learning experience.

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