Today, I had a funny memory of something that happened when I was in the 5th grade…
I know I was disappointed to learn that I would have Mrs. Hall as my teacher because everyone knew she was tough. (I still wonder if my Mom requested I be placed in her class.) She was round and oh, so grumpy looking. Sort of like a bull dog, Mrs. Hall wore a permanent frown, stomped instead of walking, and she was SCARY!! At some point over the years, she earned the nickname “Pouncy.” The name fit.
Mrs. Hall wielded a ruler… a wooden one, and she wasn’t afraid to use it, you guys. Unlike now, she was allowed to. And that’s not all she used. I had this one classmate who was always a bit of a trouble-maker. We all had one of those, right? He was a great guy but was known for pushing the limits of about every authority figure with his smart mouth and burly attitude.
This kid also had a nervous twitch. Everyone that knew him was aware that oftentimes his eyes would squint causing the corners of his mouth to curl just a bit.
No one told ole’ Pouncy Hall about the twitch because just as she was reprimanding him for some little infraction, that nervous twitch thing happened. She open-handed slapped him across the face and said (in what my 5th grade mind sounded exactly like a big, hairy monster), “Don’t you smile like a o’possum at me, young man.”
I was… I was… TERRIFIED.
Funny, the kid she slapped stopped misbehaving in her class — and I learned a lot in the 5th grade because I listened very attentively to every single word that came from that woman’s mouth. I’m not saying I condone my teacher’s actions from so long ago — I would be the first to admit there better not be ANYONE slap my kid in the face — but someplace in the middle between then and now might be an improvement.
Here’s something from the way… WAY back machine — Crothersville High School in 1931: