I went to elementary school in Alabama in the 1960s. My first grade teacher was very kind but also very strict. She kept a wooden paddle on her desk as a warning against misbehavior and she used it often.

One day at recess, some girls were playing and began doing cartwheels. They were wearing dresses and as they went upside down their dresses fell, showing the white panties that were underneath. This, of course, caught the attention of a friend and me and we began to watch and then tease the girls, “I saw you panties na na na na.”

One girl went to the teacher and told her that my friend, Jimmy, was pulling up the girls dresses which wasn’t exactly what was happening. But the teacher called Jimmy to come inside and confronted him. He told the teacher that I was also taking part in the offense.

I was called inside where we received a lecture and scolding and then we were told to stand in opposite corners of the classroom while she decided our punishment.

After about 10 minutes I heard her call Jimmy to her desk and I heard her take the paddle from her desk drawer. I then knew what was going to happen and what my punishment would also be. I turned from the corner to watch her make Jimmy bend over and place his hands on his knees. About that time she glanced my way and saw that I had taken my nose out of the corner.

She said to Jimmy, “Jimmy, you are going to receive three licks.”

She quickly slapped his butt three times with her paddle, pop,pop, pop! Jimmy began to cry and she told him to go back to the playground, apologize to the girls, tell them what his punishment had been and tell them to come inside.

She then called me to her desk and said that, because I had peeked and saw Jimmy’s paddling, that I would be getting six licks, and the girls would watch me receive my paddling.  About that time, three little girls came giggling in. The teacher told them to be careful in the future to be more lady-like because some boys like Earnest and Jimmy had not yet learned to be gentlemen. She had them sit in the front row and called for me to come to the front of the room in front of the girls. I obeyed and, like Jimmy, I was told to bend over and place my hands on my knees.

“Do not move your hands,” she said, and I heard the girls snicker and gasp.

She placed her finger through the back center belt loop of my trousers to hold me firmly still and began to slowly give me six sharp cracks on the butt with her paddle. As the sting of the swats became worse with each lick, so did her grip and I felt tears roll down my six-year-old face. The girls were silent except for tiny gasps with each lick that I received.

I was then told to apologize to the girls, which I did through tears and whimpers. I saw them giggle and smile as the silent tears ran across my face.

That is how my first school paddling happened, but it was not my last.