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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Crime and Punishment in the 60s


The Sweet and Innocent Grade Ones. Really.

In the sixties, schools had strict rules.
Breaking said rules carried punishments.
A severe ‘talking to’.
Being kept in at recess or lunch hour.
Or *shudder* being sent to the *gasp* principal’s office.
Where there was always the looming specter of ‘THE STRAP’.
Which, I should point out, none of us had ever seen.
But which our entire class had heard on one occasion.
But that is another story.
Moving on . . .
I started grade one in the fall of 1960.
There were three of us Stringams in Milk River Elementary at that time.
Myself.
My next older brother, George, in grade three.
And our eldest brother, Jerry, in grade six.
Our eldest sister, Chris, had just graduated to Junior High.
Because she had reached the unbelievable and unreachable age of twelve.
Wow.
Jerry and his classmates ruled our school.
We lowly serfs in grade one observed their doings with awe bordering on worship.
I should mention that this was the brother who teased me mercilessly at home.
And who Mom chased around with the broom.
But at school, he was a lord.
He could do no wrong.
We spent hours in observation.
And mimicry.
Until . . . the event.
Remember when I was talking about rules/punishment?
Well that comes into play here.
In Milk River Elementary School in 1960, the principal had instituted a bold new form of punishment.
Lemons.
I am not making this up.
We really had punishment by lemon.
And no one was exempt.
No one.
On Friday mornings during Assembly . . .
Oh, I should tell you we also had Assembly every Friday morning.
Back to my story . . .
On Friday mornings, any malefactors were marched to the front of the gym, before the entire school population, and handed a lemon.
Which they then had to peel and eat.
For most of them, it was a painful process.
For those of us watching, it was a painful process.
Let’s just say it. Rules in Milk River Elementary weren’t often broken.
But one time, it was my brother, Jerry who had transgressed.
It was his turn to stand there.
And he had company.
Let me explain . . .
Jerry’s teacher was busily doing 'teacher' things at her desk.
Jerry and his friend, Stan had made a paper jet.
Okay, yes, they were supposed to be doing school work.
This was more fun.
They threw it.
And watched, proudly, as it flew, straight and smooth.
Then, in dismay, as it sailed neatly out into the hall.
It landed at the feet of the Principal, who just happened to be standing there at that precise moment.
He picked it up.
The boys held their breath and watched.
The Principal looked at the clever little plane.
Then, forgetting himself for a moment, threw it back into the room.
In full view of the teacher, who chose that moment to look up.
If there was a punishment bell, it would have clanged loudly at that point.
Paper planes were on the ‘forbidden’ list.
And all three ‘launchers’ were guilty.
At that Friday’s Assembly, my brother and Stan . . . and the Principal all took their places at the front of the gym.
Each was handed a lemon.
Which Jerry and Stan peeled and ate at lightning speed.
Just to get out of the spotlight.
The Principal took his time.
Wincing with every bite.
The assembled students were screaming with laughter by the time he was done.
Finally, he waved for silence and dismissed us.
Then probably hurried to the bathroom to gargle.
We never forgot.
And school crime hit an all time low.
Genius.


16 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Can't picture that happening today . . .

      Delete
  2. I well remember that. Mr. Sisco was the principal then, and yes, I remember the face he made eating that lemon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mr. Sisco! That was his name. I couldn't remember it. All I remembered was he and the two boys up there, choking down their lemons.

      Delete
  3. I have such a visual of those two boys. Lemon sections going down whole. My brothers would have done that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure they went down whole. Less chance of tasting that way!

      Delete
  4. LOL! I would've paid MONEY to see that!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. those of us who WEREN'T eating lemons sure thought it was entertaining!

      Delete
  5. Diane, punishment by lemon? Oh dear Lord! I'm wincing at the thought! Your poor brothers! Thank goodness they peeled and ate theirs lickety split. The principal, poor man, appears to not have fared so well! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He could have learned from his students!!

      Delete
  6. Lol that was a great punishment lol
    and one you will always remember :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Haha, very funny story about the lemons:) I didn't start school until 1968, I remember hearing many stories of the strap that never materialized.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just the mere thought of the strap was enough to ensure instant obedience!

      Delete
  8. And they thought the strap was cruel and outlawed it!!! Give me a good old-fashioned spanking any day!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah. A lemon seems like cruel and unusual punishment to me!!!

      Delete

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