No. 6 – My Mother (Continued)
School Years – I could get by with Nothing
Lois started teaching the year I entered the first grade. She taught high school English and Biology. New Kent School was a two-floor brick building with a room for each of twelve grades, a library, a few offices, and an auditorium. The lower grades were downstairs (the boys’ and girls’ restrooms were also downstairs), middle school and high school grades were upstairs. Those first years, Lois and I both rode the school bus to school. Later, when we got a dependable car, Lois would drive to school and I did not have to ride the bus.
Because first grade was in the basement, I did not get by with anything. While I was generally well behaved, there was a girl in the first grade that I fancied. As everyone knows, little boys show their admiration for little girls by being bratty, teasing, etc. (I am told not all men outgrow this!) My actions soon came to the attention of our teacher, Ms Edwards, who was clearly the strictest teacher we would have in our entire twelve years of school. For punishment, I was sent to stand in the corner—in the hall under the stairwell to the upper level.
It was a small school, and all of Lois’ students knew I was Mrs. Richmond’s little boy. The “girls’ room” was in our wing. Several high school girls had come by and spotted me in the corner. I stood there for the remainder of my sentence expecting my mother to appear at any moment. She never appeared and I thought perhaps she might not be aware of my misdeeds. It was not until dinner that evening she told my father that I had been sent to the corner in the hall. That launched an inquisition! After turning red, and stammering to try to explain, my mother explained that she had talked Ms Edwards and found out what happened. They both had a good laugh. As a first grader, I did not understand the humor.
Speaking of punishment, well, it did not happen often, but mother’s mode of operation was a branch from a little pussy willow in the back yard. Those willow canes made effective switches and I felt the sting on the backs of my legs on several occasions. It was effective. I don’t recall the offense, but I do recall the consequence.