Biographical Non-Fiction posted September 21, 2021


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When a paddle replaced the whip

Corporal Punishment

by Frank Ball

Activities inside the classroom sometimes diverted from ordinary schoolwork. Our school, advanced beyond the proverbial one-room school, directed by a whip-handling schoolmaster, was a four-room school with two grades in each schoolroom. Mr. Parsons, the only male teacher, was tall, gray, and bespectacled. He taught the seventh and eighth grades, besides serving as the school principal. Never to be intimidated by unforeseen circumstances, he felt duty-bound to maintain control of any setting.

Old-time corporal punishment was on the wane. Still, remnants existed. There were no whips but a wood paddle hung on a shoelace at a nail in the principal's office wall. It remained in plain sight, so any student unlucky enough to be called in for discipline could only hope it was a symbol. The principal's office was isolated from the seventh/eighth-grade classroom only by the office door, the door in plain sight.

Separated by two grades and schooled in separate classrooms, two boys were in the Findel family. Jerry, the older, was in the eighth grade, and Johnny, was in the sixth. Both boys had enough enterprise to behave with independent flavor. Witnessing this event as a seventh-grader, I kept my mouth shut, finding it prudent to keep my thoughts to myself.

Johnny, as he often was, was in some trouble. No one will recall the offense's nature, but discipline in the principal's office became the next in order. Mr. Parsons left the classroom, closing the office door, to meet his responsibility in the ensuing chastisement. The sound penetrating the door indicated repeated paddle slaps and pig-like squeals of pain from Johnny. Jerry stood and hollered from his desk in the classroom,

"Take it easy on my brother, Parsons."

The paddling and squealing stopped. Holding the paddle, a wrinkled hand reached through the office door as it opened slightly.

"You're next."
"Who?"
"The one with a loudmouth."

Jerry marched straight away through the office door; more paddling sounds followed without any more squealing. All participants returned to their usual places, and ordinary classroom decorum resumed.




Never having the opportunity for direct sight or experience to make a definitive conclusion, I now believe the whole thing was an act to intimidate the bulk of the student body. The younger participants likely were sworn to secrecy by threatening their lives.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.


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