School Days of Old

I haven’t been as active in this blog as I would like to be. I haven’t had a lot to say lately. I still basically have no comments on anything current so we will go back to the years old yesterday when I was in school.

The year was 1972. Richard Milhous Nixon was the President and the Miami Dolphins ruled Brittania on the football field. If you are old enough, you might recall that this was the season they went 17-0, the only undefeated team in the modern history of the National Football League. Featuring quarterback Bob Griese (although veteran Earl Morrall played at QB the lion’s share of the season due to Griese being injured), the offensive attack was rounded out by the big bruising running back Larry Csonka and the speedy Eugene “Mercury” Morris. Paul Warfield was a sure reception at wide receiver and the kicking game was dominated by a curious little former soccer player from Cyprus named Garo Yepremian.  The defense was known as the “No-Name Defense”, Nick Buoniconti being the most well known name among them.

Now what makes this a compelling story is that I was in seventh grade at the time and I had a social studies teacher who was a HUGE Washington Redskins fan.  Every Monday he would recount what his Redskins had done to their opponent and then talked about what they would do to those Miami Dolphins should they happen to meet in the Super Bowl. See the Dolphins couldn’t be that good. They played in the AFC while his Redskins were in the NFC.

Now back in those days it was the golden age of corporal punishment in the schools. It happened daily and with regularity. Every teacher had their own paddle and some of them even had theirs customized. There wasn’t any such thing as parents suing the school or the teacher over a paddling. Nine times out of ten, if the parents found out their kid had received a paddling in school, they were assured of receiving a second one at home. Most kids were not dumb enough to tell on themself. I sure wasn’t.

Getting back to the story at hand, this social studies teacher was one of the more frequent paddlers. It wasn’t uncommon for him to paddle four or five students, one right after another. And he swung his paddle with authority. If you got one from him in second period, maybe by lunch, if you were lucky, the sting would have finally wore off. When he wanted silence he would simply say “One will get you three”, meaning one word will get you three licks.

Now it’s pretty obvious which team won that football game. The Dolphins completed their undefeated season by winning 14-7 in Super Bowl VII. Not a complete and total obliteration of the Redskins, but it should be noted that the Redskins sole score came as a result of kicker Garo Yepremian attempting to throw a pass after a botched field goal attempt. This came late in the 4th quarter.

The very next day there was a sign on the door to the social studies classroom. It read: “Don’t say anything about the football game. One will get you three.”

Now if I had it to do over again I would have kept my mouth shut. Not because I got punished unjustly, but because he was just a big fat idiot who wasn’t worth it. He dished it out, but then he wasn’t willing to eat a little humble pie and congratulate the other side. I call that being a sore loser. I call that a few more things but I won’t say what I am thinking.

“How ’bout them Redskins,” I blurted out. “They just stomped them Dolphins didn’t they,” I added.  True to his threat I was soon bent over receiving his wrath as he swung his paddle three times.

Now in my adult life I realize I was in the wrong disobeying an authority figure, but I was also in the right exposing his pettiness and hypocrisy. He was in the wrong for being so petty. He was the adult and it should have been his job to act like one. At the time of the incident I swore that if I ever saw him in my adult life I would take a measure of revenge. When I did see him at a football game many years later, I recalled my vow to myself, but having matured by that point, I simply looked at him as being pathetic and not worth my attention.

Is there a moral to this story? Not really. It’s just something that happened to me many years ago. For some reason I have always remembered it. Many years have passed since I held any malice toward this teacher. I wish him well. I wish him happiness. And I wish for all his teams to lose. <ha ha>


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