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Second Grade: Emotional Journey

Posted Saturday, November 5, 2011, at 5:44 AM

(Correction: In last column blog, I mistakenly identified the late Hutson Goza as co-owner of the Sikeston's Goza-Harper Motor Co. It was his brother, Kelly, who sold us our Plymouth "farm cars.")

Forgive me for taking a personal journey back in time. Ain't nothing bach there I can change. If I could, don't know that I would.

In looking back, can't describe the excitement I had on my first day at Canalou School of advanced thinking and higher ciphering. Although Canalou High, which I did not graduate from due to consoldation, only existed 30 short years, the country learning center produced more than 45 professional educators.

First grade constitutes a "sweet trip" down Memory Lane with beautiful talented Mrs. Greer as our teacher. For sure, Rosemary Hopper and Brenda Harlan were the "foxes" of first grade. But they broke my heart when choosing to sit with Harold David Bryant and Kirky Durbin at our Bootheel farm town's 10-cent Saturday night moving picture show.

But as I sat alone and gorged myself on my third bag of popcorn there in the darkened theater, I got to thinking. Not sitting with those two pretty little first grade fillies meant I got to spend my hard-earned cotton patch coins on corn, two cherry-flavored Cokes, all to myself with five cents left over for a big Baby Ruth candy bar. Not a bad trade-off.

Now, in looking back in time at second grade, I might change a thing or two, you know, be a little smarter in life. Have you ever walked in a room, without a word being spoken, and you didn't like someone, and they didn't like you, and you both knew it. Meet "second grade" teacher, who shall remain nameless. I became known as "Little Danny Whittle, her personal nemisis."

By second grade, I'd regained "favor" in the heart of first grade heart-throb Rosemary, who had beautiful red hair she wore in pig tails. She'd penned a note to me: "Danny, I like you. Do you like me?"

Which made Little Danny Whittle's heart soar, for about five seconds, until teacher swooped back and embarrassed little Rosemary in front of entire class for "note writing." I "flogged back," which got me my first paddling in school.

As subsequent moments dragged with dripping emotions (tears from the paddling), the madder Little Danny Whittle got, not about the spanking, but about the way teacher had embarrassed Rosemary.

After gathering courage and losing my mind, I penned a note to teacher. I recall it verbatim: "Dear teacher: I hate your guts, very much."

With great stealth, I managed to deposit the note on teacher's desk without her knowing it. But about five minutes' later, we heard this deep gutteral growl. Teacher had found the note!!

Not being a bright child, I signed the note: "Little Danny Whittle."

Thus, I received my official "second thrashing" of second grade.

But in her thunderous haste and exit back to the front of the room, teacher forgot a biggo heavy book on my desk.

"Get that book up here, pronto!!" teacher instructed.

She didn't specify how to send it, so I airmailed that biggo book. As fate would have it, that book soared, sailed and bonked teacher atop her noggin'. AFter wobbling a step or two, teacher was back to my desk.

Thus, I received my third paddling in less than 20 minutes time, although it seemed much longer.

I totaled a second grade school record "seven paddlings" that year, but was "passed" to third grade with teacher attaching her own personal note: "Under Condition."

Later in life, after about 15 years in subsequent newspapering career, teacher penned me a note while I worked at the Nashville Banner: "Little Danny Whittle, I've admired your writing career from afar all these years. I'm so sorry you have such dark memories of your second grade school teacher."

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Seriously? You've done what quite a few of us would LIKE to have done to some of our teachers, I think. I've sat in my seat, trying to keep myself under control, while a tyrant of a teacher forced her will on me, each of us knowing how unfair it was--but also knowing it had to be that way. I would never have survived a paddling, I'm afraid.

I've delivered a few paddlings, since I usually taught in schools that were old-fashioned enough to believe in them (even for high-schoolers), but I never liked to do it, and I've received word that the hug I gave the recipients afterwards hurt more than the paddling. I usually ended it with, "Don't you ever make me do that again!"

These performances were usually necessary when I moved to a new school. The kids seemed to need proof that the teacher meant what she said. One paddling was all that was necessary.

-- Posted by goat lady on Sun, Nov 6, 2011, at 6:23 AM

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Retired recently as world-traveled newspaperman, career made possible by late Superintendent of Schools Robert L. Rasche, about to have Bootheel life book published by SEMO State University. Loved farm life, but knew at five years old, didn't want to be a "cotton picker" when I grew up.
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