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Gauss, John 1924–

Gauss, John 1924–

PERSONAL: Born February 10, 1924, in San Diego, CA; son of Albert Gauss (a baker). Education: San Diego State University, B.A., 1950, M.S., 1969.

ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, University Press of America, 4501 Forbes Blvd., Ste. 200, Lanham, MD 20706.

CAREER: Cajon Valley School District, Cajon, CA, junior high school teacher, 1951–78; writer. Military service: U.S. Army, Infantry, 1943–45; served in Asia-Pacific theater; received combat infantry badge.


(With Gene Hopster) SNAP English Kit, privately printed, 1966.

So You Wanna Teach, Huh?, University Press of America (Lanham, MD), 1985.

Black Flag! Black Flag!, University Press of America (Lanham, MD), 2003.

Contributor to periodicals, including Oasis, Touring Bike, Wheels, and Civil War Times Illustrated.

WORK IN PROGRESS: The Badge and the Man, the biography of a San Diego police officer of the 1940s and 1950s.

SIDELIGHTS: John Gauss told CA: "My first writing attempt was a short-short story written as a class assignment during my senior year of high school. Editors of the school magazine rejected the story because they thought it was plagiarized. That rebuff plus military service in the infantry in World War II and getting my life started again kept me from writing for more than a decade.

"Years later, as an educator, I sat in my classroom mulling over a new teacher evaluation form adopted by the school district. While my mathematics class was busily engaged with a test, I spent twenty minutes dashing off a one-page satire about Socrates being evaluated as a teacher and mailed it to the Phi Delta Kappan. The editor said it arrived just as the magazine was going to press. They removed a back-page quotation by Thomas Wolfe and inserted the satire. Subscribers were reading it before I received the editor's letter of acceptance. The satire was widely reprinted in dozens of books and magazines in the United States and England.

"Next I wrote workbook exercises for McGraw-Hill, a self-published SNAP English kit, and various magazine articles. The General Education Diploma organization needed test writers and sent me their strict guidelines, asking me to submit a sample test in one subject area to determine if they would offer me a contract. They gave me two weeks, so I wrote tests in three subject areas. They surprised me and bought the three samples. After that I wrote items for the ACT tests and have enjoyed a pleasant relationship with that organization for many years.

"My first book, So You Wanna Teach, Huh?, resulted from a desire to inform neophyte teachers what to expect when they entered classrooms in their first year. The second book, Black Flag! Black Flag!, came about because vague references to the U.S. Civil War's Fort Pillow Massacre intrigued me. Research led to eyewitness accounts of the incident that helped me fill a void in Civil-War history.

"The third book, The Badge and the Man, is about a former San Diego city policeman who regaled me with tales of his and his fellow officers' activities in the years following World War II, a time before walkie-talkies, the Miranda Act, or camcorders. A strong man, the officer once dangled by one hand from a bridge over a freeway while holding a potential suicide victim with his other hand."

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