Told by Victoria Johnson
Victoria told of her first paddling at school in our account ‘Mississippi paddling’. Now she relates the second paddling she received at school.
So I promised to give an account of my second run-in with the school paddle. After my first experience (see my other story), I was extra careful to stay on the straight and narrow. I never really came even close to any trouble at school the rest of that year, or even my junior year. Not even so much as a threat of a detention. I had always been a miss goodie two shoes, but getting my butt busted that day had really made me extra careful. Even at home, in over two years I had only garnered a single (short) grounding. I think I may have gotten threatened with a spanking once or twice in that time (the ‘if you don’t stop doing’ type of threat), but I basically steered well clear of all trouble.
By my senior year I was finally president of the key club, still on the swim team and volleyball team, and was now a cheerleader for fall because they didn’t have enough girls on the varsity team, so I agreed to help out. I was still an honors student, and I was on student council. I felt like I was on top of the world.
In early October my Chemistry teacher, Miss Scherer, started having complications with her pregnancy (it turned out she was having triplets, and being of a small frame, couldn’t be on her feet all day) so she was indefinitely replaced by a substitute teacher, Mrs Perkins. Mrs Perkins was about 70 years old, mumbled, was absent minded (at best), and really wasn’t a good teacher in any way shape or form, not just because of her age. She was also really easy to give a hard time to. So everyone did.
For a week or so the class ran wild. We talked during class, we passed notes, we laughed at her. No-one ever did anything specific, and she didn’t have a lot of backbone, so the combination meant that nothing was really done about it. Maybe a detention or two were given out, but I don’t even remember that.
I was far from the ring-leader of all of this. In fact, I was academically minded enough that I mostly did my work, and even felt a bit sorry for her. But I can’t claim I never was talking or out of line either. When the cat is away the mice will play kind of thing. But I certainly wasn’t at the forefront.
Eventually, Mr Dunkle, the math teacher in the next classroom, took an interest. I don’t know to what degree it came from Mrs Perkins talking with him, or if he was just hearing the noise during his free period, or, more likely, a combination of the two. But either way he took an interest.
He started coming over and reading us the riot act every-time he heard noise or laughter. At first it was just lectures, then he tried detentions. As a class we got better, but it never really lasted. Mrs Perkins was just too easy of a target. Finally one day he came over and gave the entire class a detention. The whole ‘I’ll punish everyone’ strategy, something I didn’t think was fair because I wasn’t really involved that day at all.
In general through this stretch, I was even less a part of the “problem” than I had been before. Once Mr Dunkle got involved I was extra careful to be careful. That said, I’d be lying if I said I always was perfect in there. Again, it was just too easy to push the rules when the teacher was so easily pushed.
We all served our class detention, which sucked getting stuck at school for two hours, but being the entire class, it was less embarrassing and dull than it would have been to have had an individual detention. At the time I remember talking to a few of the other “good” kids (mostly girls) about how we should talk to everyone else and really try to reign things in, that it was obviously going too far. But no one wants to be the goodie-two-shoes, and such a conversation simply never happened.
Even with the group detention, nothing much really changed. Mr Dunkle was still having to rush in at least every other day. You could really tell he was at his wits end. Finally, he came in about a week after the detention, on a Monday, when we were being particularly rowdy and said: “OK, enough. From now on if anyone does ANYthing to distract this class or disrespect your teacher, talks, passes notes, makes noises out of turn – they are getting licks. Period.” He said it with quite the tone, and everyone could tell he MEANT it. Add to this that he was a big guy (an assistant football coach), and not someone you wanted to imagine paddling your rear end, and the entire class was finally thoroughly scared.
Things got a lot better (though not perfect). People still talked more than they would in a normal class, but people got much better about their behavior. I, personally, was being particularly good. Things changed that Friday.
That Friday was homecoming. The game would be that night and the dance the next day. And we were all excited. I was wearing my cheerleader’s uniform (game day), and everyone else had on school colors. It was a beautiful fall day and excitement was in the air.
Mrs Perkins put us into group work to work on some kind of project. I don’t remember the details but it included a bunsen burner, etc. There were five us to a group. My group consisted of me (Victoria), my best friend Lisa, another girl I only kind of knew Abigail, and two boys, Tommy and Jason.
No one was really working that hard, everyone was too focused on homecoming. My group did a bit of work, but not tons. I kept us going for a while, but even I was excited about the game and before I knew it we were doing nothing but talking. But it seemed like so was every other group. Pretty soon the room was almost a roar in general. I didn’t feel we were talking or goofing off any more than the average group, but I will admit that we were probably a bit louder because both of the boys in our group had particularly loud voices.
As the den of noise grew to a swell, Mr Dunkle suddenly appeared in the doorway bearing a furious look. He comes in and starts reading the entire class the riot act. Then he asked Mrs Perkins which group seemed the loudest and most distracted and she pointed at us. My mouth about fell to the floor.
I still wasn’t TOO worried though. Yes, he looked upset, but this was obviously an entire class thing, certainly he wasn’t going to simply pick on us and make examples of us because we were slightly louder than an overall loud class.
And, to his credit, he didn’t. Even though she had pointed us out he didn’t assume we were automatically the worst. But he did ask to see our work. And we had next to none. He was incredulous, 40 minutes of group work and we had nothing? I was starting to get nervous as I mumbled “no sirs” staring at the floor.
Then he asked other groups to compare, and I was stunned to see they all had at least a decent amount of work. While it might have, because of the noise, seemed like everyone was totally goofing off, the other groups had apparently, at the very least, been paying enough attention to stay somewhat focused. We, however, had been off in la-la land.
I instantly knew this wasn’t going well. I had a pit in my stomach remembering
both his threat that very week, and my memory of getting my licks sophomore year (and how much that sucked). I had figured I was facing at least another detention (or two), but I was hoping to avoid the licks. Knowing we had been singled out as the loudest and had the least work done, I was growing worried. But I still had hope.
That hope evaporated when, upon realizing we were the only group with next to no work accomplished, Mr Dunkle said nothing. Instead, he simply walked over to the filing cabinet , opened it up, and removed Miss Sherer’s paddle, pointed at the hall, and said: “You five, come to the hall, NOW.”
You could have heard a pin drop in that classroom.
I was pale and clammy instantly. It felt like a bad replay of a bad movie. It was so surreal. I couldn’t believe this was happening again.
We shuffled out into the hall where he lined us up with our backs against the wall. He kept lecturing us about insubordination, warnings, disrespect, etc, as he paced back and forth. Finally he said: “Turn, put your noses touching the wall, and wait right here.”
I wasn’t exactly sure what was happening (though I had an idea), but I knew I felt like a kid back in time-out with her nose in the corner (in this case the wall). He wasn’t gone long, so, presumably, he had left to make sure he had corporal punishment consent forms for each of us, and to find a female witness (either the teacher who administered the paddle or the witness had to be the same gender as the student, so since we were a mixed group and he was a man, he needed a female witness).
While he was gone I was panicking. Ideas racing through my head about how I could get out of this. Could I point out that I hadn’t talked as much? That I had been “better” behaved the previous weeks. But I knew instinctively that none of those arguments could change anything. I obviously had been talking, and not doing work, that day. I obviously had been clearly warned. And while I had been relatively “better” the preceding weeks, I couldn’t look someone in the eyes and claim I had been stellar, much less convince them of it.
I was almost shaking with nervousness, hands clammy, tears welling in my eyes. I kept thinking about how if a paddling was THAT bad with a female teacher in 10th grade, what would it be like with Mr Dunkle? Let’s just say I was pretty well terrified.
Before I knew it, he was back, followed by one of the school secretaries, Miss Barker (young, like 22ish). He told us to all to turn around. He asked who had already been paddled that year. Only Abigail raised her hand. He said: “OK young lady, you’ll be getting five licks. The rest of you will be getting the usual.” We all knew that to mean that, at our school, for a typical offense (other than cheating, smoking, or forging), boys usually got three, girls usually got two, and any repeat offender got five.
He then told us we’d “work” left to right, which meant I’d be fourth, and told us all to put our noses back against the wall, and asked Lisa to step forward.
I squished my nose back against the wall in one of the most heightened states of fear I had ever known. I listened as they asked Lisa if she had anything in her jean’s pockets, instructed her to face the (other) wall, and to bend over and grab her knees. Then I heard a silence and then a loud WHAM. A brief pause, and then another WHAM. With the second wham you could hear Lisa let out a grunt, and commence crying out loud. That didn’t do much to calm me.
Mr Dunkle then told Lisa to get back into class, and she walked past my peripheral vision, sobbing as she went right back into class. It was only at that moment that I realized that the entire class was definitely sitting in there, quiet as can be, trying to hear every last detail that was going on. I hadn’t even thought of that till then, though I knew it to be true. I was instantly humiliated and embarrassed, although I was still far more concerned with my impending pain.
Simultaneous to Lisa shuffling back to class, Tommy got called over. He was asked to take his wallet out of his back pocket, bend over, and then I head him get his paddling. He was the only one of the five that I don’t know if he cried or not (everyone else definitely did), but when I saw him later he definitely looked in distress. Either way, I listened to three swats fall and heard him grunt with the last two. He then went back into class and Abigail was called forward.
The closer my turn got, the more the knot in my stomach grew into a huge cannon ball.
I remember that Abigail apparently had one of those razor cell phones in her back pocket, because she asked Miss Barker to hold it. Then I heard silence and out of nowhere a BANG! I heard her crying by the third swat, and bawling loudly by the fifth. By the time she walked back into class she was totally out of control. But I was only half paying attention to that because, by that moment, I’d already heard: “Tory, your turn,” and had begun to turn around to face my fate.
As I forced my feet to move me forward I tried to make eye contact with Miss Barker and give her a little smile, hoping to get a little glance of encouragement like I had gotten from the two female teachers that had paddled me in tenth grade. Instead, I got a blank stare with no encouragement or sympathy whatsoever.
Mr Dunkle didn’t take any longer with me than the others. He told me to face the wall, and grab my knees. I did so.
Almost instantly I felt the paddle rub up against my bottom and tap it. Then that horrible absence was there, which is the worst feeling in the world. I braced myself, and then WHAM. It tore through my backside like a firecracker. I let out a little grunt, but managed to keep it together. The tears that had been welling in my eyes welled some more, but I kept it in. Then, before I had time to even register what had happened, I felt the paddle rubbing my bottom again, and then again, WHAM. It rocked me forward on me feet and I commenced out and out crying.
I was told to stand up, and as I did so it occurred to me that it hadn’t been quite as bad as the first two swats in 10th grade, much less the full five. Apparently a 24-year-old female tennis coach could out-paddle a 30 something football coach. But that was of little solace as my butt was still on FIRE.
I stumbled back to the door of the classroom, opened it, and walked through. I could hear, behind me, Jason getting called away from the wall, but all of my attention lay on trying to keep myself walking forward to my seat.
Every eye was on me. I was so embarrassed. Meanwhile I was in so much pain I couldn’t even attempt to look tough. I shuffled to my seat as I
heard Jason’s licks landing in the hallway. Sitting down I discovered just how uncomfortable wooden school desk seats could be. I squirmed the final two periods of the day.
By the time I got home, it was slightly better, but still noticeably sore (as it would remain all evening) and my butt was a deep, bright pink. I went to the football game that night, cheered, and tried to act like nothing had happened. But I knew that at least all of my classmates knew, probably more. And I also knew that I still had a sore bottom. My mom proudly snapped photos of me cheering, and I have attached those to this story. I did my cheerleading job, but the football game seemed suddenly less exciting than it had during Chemistry class.
I never came even remotely close to any more trouble at school again, though I did have a run in at home later that year. But as overly harsh in tone as Mr Dunkel could be at times, I knew I didn’t really have anyone to blame but myself. I had promised to be more careful after the incident in 10th grade. And, for the most part, I had been. But I guess this was evidence that it doesn’t take much forgetting to negate all of the positive work.
Anyway, that is the story of my only other run in with the school paddle! Not nearly as bad as the first, but still plenty memorable.