A True Account of a Young Girl Paddled at School
(No Use Without Permission)
I grew up in a rural town in Midwestern Pennsylvania in the 70’s and 80’s. Corporal punishment was still fairly well accepted back in those days even at school. I wasn’t spanked all that often, not even at home, but I did get a few – some that were quite memorable. Especially the two I got in school.
My elementary school was quite small. It consisted of grades Kindergarten through sixth and only had one classroom and teacher for each grade up through the third grade. There was also a kitchen where lunches were prepared, a library, a few storage rooms, and a larger multi-function room. Each grade consisted of about 20 or so kids and it was the same group of kids each year, but every year we had a different teacher. It was slightly different for grades 4-6 however; in those grades we switched classrooms two times per day so we had a different teacher for Math, English, and Social Studies instead of having the same teacher for every subject. I guess they did this to get us used to changing classes like we would have to do when we got to Junior High School in seventh grade.
My sixth grade (homeroom) teacher was Mr Davis. He was one of my favorite teachers of all time. He was funny, friendly, and he was one of those teachers that made learning fun. It was easy to get away with stuff in his class (at least for me) as long as you didn’t push him too far. In spite of all of this, he was also well known as a hard paddler. He didn’t paddle often, but when he did look out because he meant business.
I was usually pretty good in school and very seldom did I get in any trouble. Well any real trouble that is because I did like to talk a lot. I always got good grades even though I never really liked school all that much, so I never had problems with any teachers throughout my school years. Most of them always had nice things to say about me when they talked to my mother at open house or PTA meetings and so forth.
Well one day in the spring of my 6th grade year I don’t know what came over me. I don’t know if it was a bad case of spring fever or what, but on this particular day I was really wound up for some reason. To this day I still don’t know why. As my uncle would say, I was very ornery that day.
From the very beginning of that particular day I was just being silly and disruptive. Maybe it was because Mr Davis seemed to be in a really good mood and the whole class was joking around quite a bit. That happened a lot in his class, but this time it was much more than usual. Mr Davis was like that often, but when it was time to get to work, he would let us know and everyone would settle down.
I, however, kept talking out of turn and making funny comments out loud as well as visiting with my neighbors, as they used to call it back then. I guess there were a few times when I went a little too far as Mr Davis looked at me very seriously and told me to behave. It was a look I had seen from him many times before and usually that look worked and I would straighten up immediately to avoid trouble. I guess I even did settle down a few times that day, but it wasn’t long before I was acting up again. In the morning period Mr Davis even threatened to take away my recess. That was enough for me to be good for the remainder of the morning period.
As the day went on, things went pretty normal. We switched classes when it was time and being that we had different teachers, I didn’t cause any trouble in their classes as it was a whole different atmosphere with them. They weren’t bad teachers, just not nearly as fun as Mr Davis. When it was time to go back to Mr Davis’ room (the 6th grade room) near the end of the day (the last period before going home) my silliness came back and I picked up right where had I left off in the morning. I got away with it for a little while, but I could tell Mr Davis was starting to get angry with me so I finally did settle down a little bit after a few threats and he eventually took some points off of me in his grade book. Never did he threaten to paddle me though.
As the afternoon went by and it got closer to dismissal, things got ugly. I had just put in a new piece of gum, which gum chewing was allowed in Mr Davis’ class as long as he couldn’t see it or hear it. In fact, he was the only teacher at that the school that allowed it. This was another reason I liked him so much because I loved to chew gum and I almost always did so in his class. Well all of a sudden my stupidity kicked back in and I started cracking the gum very loudly. (I’m an expert at doing that.) Mr Davis gave me one of the nastiest looks and pointed to the garbage can to spit it out. He never really punished anyone for breaking his gum chewing rules unless it was habitual which I never was. You just had to spit it out and you weren’t allowed to chew it again for the rest of the day unless he told you otherwise. I think I might have had to spit my gum out once before that year for either cracking it or blowing a bubble so it was never a real problem for me.
So at this point, knowing that Mr Davis was not very happy with me, I took out a piece of paper and spit my gum into it, crinkled it up, then made like I was going to toss it in the garbage can from my seat. As I did, Mr Davis said while pointing his finger at me: “Don’t you dare young lady,” so I got up and walked to the front and dropped the paper into the can. Little did he or anyone else know at the time that I didn’t actually spit the gum into the paper. I kept it in my mouth. I wasn’t about to waste a new piece of gum. I figured since there wasn’t that much time left in the day I could just stick it to the roof of my mouth and hide it until dismissal.
Well, I don’t think more than two minutes went by before I was chewing on the gum again, probably by habit. Not knowing why just yet, Mr Davis came over to me, slammed his hand on my desk, put his face right in front of mine, and stated rather loudly: “YOU BETTER NOT BE CHEWING GUM AGAIN MISS BRADFORD!”
I knew this time he was definitely not very happy. I just lowered my head with shame and worry and said: “Sorry, I never really spat it out.” With that he sighed, shook his head with disgust, and went to the front of the room where he picked up the garbage can calling me forward and he made sure I spit it out that time. Then he told me he wanted to see me out in the hall.
Suddenly the room became completely silent and I knew all eyes were on me. I felt so embarrassed and was just as scared as I followed Mr Davis to the door. He held it open for me as I walked out and he followed me and shut the door behind him. In the back of my mind I think I knew what was about to happen, but I also think part of me was in denial since he hadn’t told me what I was in for yet. I thought there was still some hope that I wasn’t in too much trouble and that Mr Davis would let me off easy. After all, I was one of his pets.
He lectured me outside the classroom for a few minutes. Most of what was said is pretty blurry, but the gist of it all was that he was very disappointed in me. He said something to the effect that he liked to have a good time as much as anyone, but there was a time when enough was enough. The whole time I could hardly look at him as he told me more than once to “LOOK AT ME” as he did all of the talking.
Still without any confirmation as to what was going to happen, he told me to follow him. I was nearly in tears as we walked down the hallway; in fact I’m not really sure what prevented me from crying my eyes out up to that point. I should have known for certain what I was in for when we stopped in front of the storage room in the center of the school. He told me to wait right there as he went to the next classroom (which was 5th grade) and he knocked on the door. Mrs Elkin, who I had for 5th grade and also for English class the previous period, came out and the two of them whispered a few words before she shut her classroom door and they both came over to me. My heart was racing, my stomach was turning, my knees were buckling, and my palms were sweating all the while I still think I was in denial. Mrs Elkin seemed totally shocked to see it was ME standing there waiting for her services.
Mr Davis opened the door to the storage room and motioned for me to step inside along with Mrs Elkin. Once the three of us were in there, the door was closed and I could feel as well as hear my heart beating as if it were trying to pound itself right out of my chest. I was still trying to deny the fact that my butt was in big trouble even though I knew that was where Mr Davis did his paddling.
This room was fairly small and the quarters were somewhat tight. There were shelves with books and school supplies on both sides. There were also a few student desks as the room was sometimes used for tutoring sessions for kids that needed extra help. There was also a piece of equipment we used to call the “ditto” machine that made those copies in purple ink by turning the handle. I had been in this room before to help make copies with that machine, but never once did I see a paddle when I was in there. Opposite the door there were windows, which I clearly remember having blinds that were up so anyone in the parking lot outside could see in.
We were all standing near the door as Mr Davis explained to Mrs Elkin what I had done. He basically told her I had been acting up all day by being disruptive and so forth in his classes. He then told her what happened with the gum and I can vividly remember the look of shock and disappointment in her face. I had very few discipline problems in her class, so it must have been hard for her to believe that I would behave like that. I think her exact words when she responded to Mr Davis while looking directly at me were: “Well she certainly deserves to be punished.” She obviously knew what that punishment was going to be since Mr Davis had asked her to be the witness. The whole time I was feeling worse and worse about what I had done knowing how much I had disappointed the two of them.
After the brief discussion, my fate was finally confirmed. Mr Davis reached up and retrieved his paddle from one of the higher shelves. My eyes immediately widened and all the nerves and emotions I was already experiencing increased tenfold. Even a few tears finally emerged from my eyes. Mr Davis looked directly at me while tapping the paddle into his palm and said: “Perhaps I should have used this a long time ago,” as he made it clear to Mrs Elkin and me that I had gotten away with quite a bit in his class throughout the year.
Seeing that paddle I don’t think I was ever so scared in my life. I had been spanked occasionally at home by my mom with a wooden spoon, some of which were pretty drastic, but this was my first at school. I had actually only seen a few kids get paddled at school and heard several others, but this time it was going to be me. The feelings were completely different.
Now I had an idea of what those other kids had gone through when it happened to them. It was always an interesting experience seeing or hearing someone else get it. A very tiny part of me may still have felt some of the same feelings, but this time there was so much more fear and embarrassment. The worst part was that I knew the whole school was going to be able to hear it.
For the moment only my own sixth grade classmates knew who it was, but because the school was so small, all of the other classes could always hear a paddling take place in that storage room. I remember very well how the sound would interrupt instructions when it happened and everyone wondered who it was and what they had done to earn it. Sometimes even the teacher would make a snide comment when the swats were heard.
In fifth grade, you usually knew someone was about to get it when Mr Davis pulled Mrs Elkin out of her room. Nine times out of ten when that happened, it wasn’t long before hearing that distinct sound of a paddle meeting a backside. Dang if it didn’t hold true in this case too. I knew those fifth graders had to be wondering if someone was about to get ‘it’.
From what I remember of Mr Davis’ paddle (other than it hurt) was it was kind of a dark colored wood. It wasn’t a typical school type paddle; it was more pear shaped or oval at the business end. I would guess the overall size was about 6 to 8 inches across at its widest point and about 15 or so inches long including the handle. It was maybe about a quarter to a half inch thick. I can still envision it in my mind, but not to exact measures. Regardless, it looked pretty darn scary to an 11 year-old girl who was about to have her rear end busted by it. I think it was certainly big enough to cover my entire bottom.
There was probably a lot more that transpired during the short time the three of us were in that room while Mr Davis did all the talking, but a lot of that is so hard to remember. I was simply scared half to death. I couldn’t believe that Mr Davis was actually going to paddle me. Deep down I always thought he would never do THAT to me, which is why I may have acted up so much that day. I guess I was stupid to think that, for at that point, Mr Davis now had every intention of whacking my butt and I was only a few moments away from it happening.
Once all the talking was finished and everyone knew the reason we were all there, Mr Davis slid one of the student desks out so it was in front of the door. The desks at our school were rectangular, about three feet wide by two feet deep. They had a light colored wood top and the bottom was all metal including the legs. The top did not lift up, but the front was open so items could be stored inside. The seats were separate and not attached to the desk.
Mr Davis pointed to the desk with the paddle and told me to stand in front of it. This is when I started losing it a little bit. I didn’t want this to happen and I started to cry and actually pleaded a little bit. For me, spanking was always the ultimate worst and I always acted like a baby if I were in for one at home. Many times I even got out of it at home since my mom could be quite the softie at times. I don’t think I acted quite as bad as I did at home, but I still put up a pretty good fuss. It was to no avail though; Mr Davis didn’t sympathize with me too much. He didn’t yell, but he said I had certainly earned a paddling and that I better stiffen up and take what I had coming. He mentioned that he didn’t want to have to make matters worse by calling my mother and that I had better just get it over with now. Being that I certainly didn’t want my mom to find out about it, I somehow managed to reluctantly move to the desk, but with pleading eyes still directed at Mr D. Now I often wonder if there were other kids that ever acted like me.
I was now standing in front of the desk still crying and looking back over my shoulder at Mr Davis. Mrs Elkin was just observing everything without saying a word. I don’t think she felt much sympathy either as she stood there looking rather stoic with her arms folded across her chest. With my nerves at their absolute ends, Mr Davis approached me and gave me further instructions to bend over the desk. My crying continued as I tried to oblige, but couldn’t.
Mr Davis remained rather calm even though I wasn’t cooperating very well. He simply told me: “Lexie, we’re going to do this no matter how long it takes. As painful as you fear this is going to be, there’s no way out of it, so I suggest you simply bend over the desk and take what you have coming.”
Without much further delay I somehow managed to bend over the desk. I was still looking over my shoulder back at both teachers and he told me to bend all the way over and hold onto the other side. Still crying, I stood up and told him I couldn’t do it. His patience started to wear a little as he raised his voice slightly and told me to get back into position while pointing the paddle at me.
Out of fear I somehow forced myself to do it. He told me to look straight ahead, keep my hands on the desk, and my feet on the floor, but I kept looking back over my shoulder. He said: “Lexie I need you to look forward!”
I was quivering so much and nearly stood again, but he still remained rather calm and explained to me that he needed me to hold still and look forward for my own protection. Once I finally did so, to my utter surprise, the paddle quickly met my entire bottom with a loud “CRACK!”
My eyes went wide and I screamed. My hands went right to my butt as I stood up again. Mr Davis said something like: “No, no, young lady. One crack won’t be enough for your behavior. I need you to get back in position and look straight ahead.”
I was devastated, but could tell from his look that I had better do as he said. I slowly and reluctantly bent back over the desk, but had to be told to look forward yet again. I was now bawling like a baby and holding on for dear life. The fire in my seat was already beginning to intensify considerably. Then Mr Davis laid on another solid swat which virtually lifted me off my feet and added to the burn.
I again screamed in agony, but my elbows were resting on the desk so I didn’t stand up. Then again I heard the words: “Look straight ahead,” and within seconds the paddle made its mark on the seat of my jumper for the third time, causing me to shriek loudly once more. The cracking sound of the paddle seemed almost deafening in that little room.
As I stayed over the desk crying, I shifted from foot to foot sort of wagging my bottom to try and ease the pain. These antics didn’t help at all. Fortunately for me, I heard Mr Davis say: “I think that should do it; you may stand up, young lady.”
I did so crying while wiping my eyes with one hand and rubbing my bottom with the other. I’m sure both sets of my cheeks had to be quite red at that moment; however my lower cheeks were in much worse shape and really felt the effects of that paddle.
Mr Davis then exchanged a few words with Mrs Elkin before he excused her. Her duties as witness had concluded. Once she was gone he turned his attention back to me while still holding the paddle. He asked me if that would be enough to set me straight which, by only nodding, I told him it was. He sympathized with me a little bit, but told me he wasn’t sorry for what he did, but hoped that I was sorry about how I acted. I certainly was very sorry. He calmly talked to me for a little bit longer as I gained some composure. He told me it wasn’t the first time he had to take those measures, but even though he hoped it would be his last (in general), he knew it would not. He made me assure him that I had learned my lesson and that another trip to that room with me would not be necessary for the remainder of the year. I had no problem promising that! Once that was settled he put the paddle back on the shelf and smiled at me as if nothing even happened. He told me it was all behind us now.
He opened the door and we both went out into the empty hallway, which I was glad to see. I didn’t want anyone to know it was me coming out of that room. As we made our way down the hall, Mr Davis told me I could stop off in the restroom if I so desired, but I was to be back in the classroom within five minutes.
I wasn’t looking forward to going back to class at all so I chose to visit the girl’s room first as Mr Davis went on down to his room. There were only about 10 or 15 minutes left in the day so with my five-minute time limit, I couldn’t just hang out in there (like I wanted to) to avoid going back to the room, however, I’m sure I did use every second of those five minutes.
As I spent the time rinsing my face and trying my best to make myself look somewhat presentable, the throbbing in my bottom continued, but was subsiding little by little. I had a notion to look at it, but was afraid someone might walk in which would have really been embarrassing. My hair was also a mess, but I didn’t have a brush with me to fix it properly so I did my best using my hands. I also cleaned my glasses which had become quite smeared. (Actually, I don’t know how they stayed on my face during the paddling.) Then I could no longer avoid the inevitable. I eventually made my way back to the room slowly, but surely.
Once I got there the door was already open. I think walking back into that room was harder than walking out when Mr Davis initially said he wanted to see me in the hallway. All the emotions that led up to the paddling were finally gone, but many were returning along with some fears because I now had to face my classmates. I just hung my head as I went in and took my seat without looking at anyone. I could tell though, that all eyes were on me. It was a horrible feeling. I now knew what other kids had felt like when they were paddled. Some you could tell it really bothered, while others it didn’t all that much. I’m sure everyone could tell that it really bothered me for sure as I kept trying to suck back my tears.
As I sat down the intense heat in my rear end was gone, but there was still quite a reminder of what had happened back there when my butt rubbed on my chair. I think at that time though, I was more concerned about what everyone was thinking of me. Some probably felt bad, while others were probably tickled pink. I knew that I had caused the room to hush while I made that trip down the hall. And, I’m sure while I was in there it was the same old thing whenever someone got paddled. Everyone would be quiet and listen intently for that unmistakable sound. Then when it happened, everyone would look at each other, some smiling and some making some harebrained comments. That was just my class. I’m sure the rest of the school was wondering who it actually was that had just been paddled.
I couldn’t look at Mr Davis at all. He just went on like nothing happened right through the dismissal bell. I was mad at him simply because he paddled me. I still could not believe he did that to ME. That’s how I felt when I went home and I didn’t want to come back the next day.
For the ride home on the bus, I just kept to myself. I tried to be brave and act like nothing happened, but it was hard. No one really said anything to me or asked me about it which was quite a relief. I was certainly glad for that. I’m sure there were kids from my class that wanted to ask about it, but just didn’t have the nerve. That’s how I always was. I was forever very curious to talk to someone I knew got it, but I never had the courage to do so. It just wasn’t an easy topic to discuss. And since I had the curiosity, I thought people would think I was strange for wanting to know such things.
When I got home, I went straight upstairs to the bathroom. At that point I finally checked my bottom in the mirror. By that time, I couldn’t feel much at all and the redness was fading, but there were still definite signs that I had been paddled. I stayed in my room and away from my brother and sisters until my mom got home from work to make sure no one had any clue of what happened.
My butt was pretty much back to its normal color by bedtime that night and there were no definitive bruises, but I had a few tender spots that lasted a day or so. The three swats sure seemed pretty hard to me and I don’t think Mr Davis took it easy on me at all. Maybe in reality he actually did, but I really don’t think so, but I think because of the shape of the paddle and because of how it covered my bottom, the lasting damage was minimal. This of course is only my theory.
The first part of the next day at school was a little difficult for me emotionally. I was still worried about facing everyone. Everybody kept to themselves however, even my closest friends, and soon it was like it never happened. I still had problems looking Mr Davis in the eye for a while, but within a few days I got over that too. He was such a cool teacher and he had washed the slate completely clean.
It wasn’t long before I had put it behind me as well (for the most part) and things got back to normal. Of course it was still in the back of my mind and I know I will never forget that day as long as I live, but I was able to realize that I did deserve it and he did what he had to do. To this day, even though he hurt my bottom as well as my pride, he still remains one of my favorite teachers of all time. I still had a lot of fun in his class for the rest of that year, but I certainly kept myself under control after that day.
As far as Mrs Elkin goes, she never brought the subject up either. I always had this strange feeling though that she thought less of me after that episode. Because of that, I never really could look at her the same way. I still never had any problems with her as a teacher, and we were never really close, but our relationship just seemed different to me after that day. I was sort of glad that school year soon ended and I moved on to Junior High School so I didn’t have to face her anymore.
After all of that, one thing I was really grateful for was that, remarkably, my younger sister didn’t find out about it. She was in third grade at the time, which was at the other end of the school, but it was almost certain she still would have heard the cracks. Fortunately though, she never found out “who” it was that got them. I was certainly thankful that my classmates never told her or that they didn’t tell anyone else to the best of my knowledge. If my sister would have found out, she would have told my mom for sure and that definitely wouldn’t have been good. And thank God our school didn’t inform our parents like I now know that many other schools did. I don’t know for sure, but I would almost bet my mom would have spanked me (and hard) at home for that if she had found out about it.
So that pretty much sums up my first encounter with the paddle at school. I did come very close one time the following year in seventh grade, but I was able to talk my way out of that. I was talking too much in one of my classes and the teacher actually had me come forward and bend over. Fortunately, he really liked me and let me off the hook after I pleaded with him. I couldn’t believe it actually worked, but was quite thankful it did. I never crossed the line again in his class. I don’t think he was all that serious because he was going to do it in front of the class. He did paddle a few kids like that throughout the year, but it was only one swat and never seemed that hard. When he was serious, he took the culprit out in the hall and really made an impression.
After that though, I was able to stay out of any real trouble in school until late into my junior year of high school. That was the only other time I received the “board” when my girlfriend and I got a very serious tail-warming that left an impression on me for the rest of my life, but that’s another story that you may have already read.