School Days of Old – Episode 3

I have to wait until this weekend to take the example pictures for the next installment of How to Take Better Pictures so today I’m going to revisit School Days of Old again.

This time I was in the 7th grade at West Cleveland. Yes this was the same year as the infamous Super Bowl incident described in School Days of Old Episode 1. Now every now and again the school lined up a speaker for a school wide assembly. They were always extremely boring and would usually put even the teachers to sleep. (Sometimes we had animal shows which were good. They would show off a bunch of snakes, apes, and monkeys. Not a bad way to get out of having class.)

Back to the topic at hand. Let me put it this way, if you were given a choice between staying in class and diagramming sentences or going to hear the assembly speaker, the sentences would win out. It wouldn’t even be close.

One wonderful Friday afternoon, the school trotted out a particularly dull and uninteresting fellow. The long years since this happened have caused my memory to fail. I can’t remember what he was speaking about. Actually the very next day I doubt I remembered what he was speaking about. It was just that bad.

Seventh and eighth graders are 13, 14, or 15. Being a rural county there were also a hand full of eighth graders with full beards. I kind of suspected they were older than the rest of us. Probably a by-product of non-selective genetics. In a rural county there are plenty of people who seem in appearance and deed to be the off-spring of close kinfolk.

Once again, back to our story. At that age attention spans are not what they should be. Add to that a boring speaker and you have all the ingredients present for an afternoon of misbehaviour. Before long there were scattered whispers, students doing everything they could to stay amused. More time passed and soon half of the student population was openly ignoring the speaker by talking to friends in low whispers.

My intent here is not to paint the principal (not Mr. Padgett who was a character in Episode 2) in a sympathetic fashion since he is the villain of the story. But I do have to say I’m sure he was mightily embarrassed that his students were so openly ignoring his speaker to the point of wanton rudeness. And he had all weekend to stew about it.

Sometime the following Monday morning, the principal came on the intercom and expressed just how disappointed he was in his students for all the talking that went on in the assembly. In fact, his teachers had a rather lengthy list of names that they had turned over to him of students who were observed talking or misbehaving in some fashion. Now he was offering a choice. If you thought your name was on the list you could voluntarily come up to the office and receive your just reward (meaning a paddling). If you did not come to the office and your name was on the list, it would be a week’s suspension. Back then there was no in school detention. You had to stay home for a week.

I knowed (that’s Southern for “I knew”) that I was guilty. Less than thrilled to face the music, I chose the easier of the two paths. I went forward voluntarily as a guilty party. If I didn’t and received the suspension, when my parents learned of it, it would be “Katy Bar the Door”, whatever that means.

Students began streaming toward the office at the end of announcement. There was a line from the cafeteria to the office of students who were admitting guilt and waiting to receive their paddling. Hundreds of students. Maybe half the school. Maybe more.

After a wait of what seemed like an hour I made it into the principal’s office. To my surprise I did not see a list. There was no list. We had been had.

I am not excusing our behaviour as students. It was rude, it was disrespectful, and it was just plain wrong. But it was more wrong of the principal to fabricate his deceitful story. Seventh and eighth graders are not usually very mature. Our principal was a mature well-seasoned man who should have taken the moral high road. At the very least he should have actually had teachers take names or simply interrupt the assembly and call us down.

So what did we learn from this? Well the next assembly went much better. But we learned that ends can be achieved by deceit and dishonesty.

Finally even though I made the principal the villain of the story, aside from that he was a pretty good fellow. While this was a moral failure on his part, the truth is I have failed miserably in my life many times when given the opportunity to take the moral high ground. But you’ll never hear about those times here. Why? Cause it’s my blog!!

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2 Responses to “School Days of Old – Episode 3”

  1. Man…this is deja vu all over again…In MY 7th grade West Cleveland assembly I was talking to someone?…Michael Plank I think..and had to go to Mr Shivers (principal) office and got a choice of three days at home or three licks with a yard stick….I took the yard stick because three days at home would have been like HELL…the destination….from my parents.

    I really wasn’t talking but someone asked me a question and I answered….yes I was guilty along with a half dozen or more fellow classmates. Boy times have really changed in this regard not so much as Halloween which I ditto your explanation..
    John

  2. theworldofmojo Says:

    Yep John, Mr. Shivers. I guess he was overall an okay guy but he was sneaky and he expelled me for a week in the 8th grade for standing up to a bully on the bus. Strangely enough my parents took my side because they knew there comes a time when a boy must stand up for himself.

    Then there was Mr. Clayton at Crest. He always wore a green blazer and if you cut him he bled Crest Chargers.

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