- Charles McNair
Sam Massell discovered his inner politician in 1943.
The revelation came at Druid Hills High School. Massell, a junior, held a paintbrush in one hand and a freshly daubed campaign banner in the other.
His banner read: Goldstein for President!
When Sam’s charismatic classmate, Charlie Goldstein, announced a campaign for school president, he needed campaign workers. He had asked Sam, age 14, to help out.
Sam initially hesitated. He considered himself shy at that time.
“It was a period when I didn’t have a lot of self-confidence,” Sam says.
He compensated by keeping a busy schedule.
In the Druid Hills High School yearbook, the caption under Sam’s class picture read: “Always has a checkbook and a harried look. Always busy.”
Busy. “Buddy” Massell (he preferred the family nickname then) served on the student council. He started a bowling league and a stamp-collecting club. He operated a hallway sundries business at school with a special counter “so I would look like an operator,” he says.
Despite his deep personal misgivings, Buddy said yes to Goldstein and joined the campaign.
The popular Goldstein won the election. Under school by-laws, the class president could appoint other officers. To Buddy’s astonishment, Goldstein named him school treasurer.
Twenty-six years later, Sam Massell would stand in front of cameras, flash a big smile and raise his arms in triumph as the newly elected mayor of Atlanta.