Saturday, June 21, 2008

School Days

My memories of my Elementary school years are very vivid. Our play group continued as we walked to school together. We carried our books in bags designed for that purpose. At school we were thrown with milltown children from the Sumerset area . This was my first knowledge of sex and the F word that goes with it as well as the S word which rhymes with it. I was introduced to "cuss" words as we called them. I brought one of them home and had my mouth washed out with soap. Because of my size I was picked on and abused by some of the milltown older children but one of them named Billy became my protector. He was big and strong and no one dared to challenge him. I can remember that voice even until this day: "Leave Pee Wee alone." I acquired that nickname very early. I rewarded Billy with a candy bar which was always in my lunch bag. My cook liked me and I persuaded her to give me two candy bars - one for a friend. We did not have a cafeteria. Everybody brought a lunch. Billy’s lunch was a baked sweet potato every day. Most of the milltown children had this lunch. I learned in later years that the sweet potato was very nutritious. My lunch was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich which was also very nutritious. When I got home from school I had a second one.
Another not so pleasant experience was the punishment technique used on us. It was a leather razor strap which men used to sharpen their shaving instrument on. The teacher would take the offender into the cloak room and use the strap on the behind. We would count the licks and listen to the cry of the victim. We had learned to cry quickly with a loud voice so she would stop much sooner. We used to call it getting a "whupping". I never got one but my friend got twelve licks. He showed me his red bottom. As I write this my fear emotion is experienced again. I remember till this day how the milltown boys found ways to irritate the teacher despite her threats. One boy brought in his pocket a toy frog, a little device which he popped. He did some pops every day especially when she was at the blackboard with her back turned. She got so mad one day that she had all the boys line up and open their pockets. She did not find the pop object. I learned later that he had gotten help from a girl. In my day girls were not considered to be naughty.