My first dose of the cane came in 1966. I was a ten year old boy and realized that I had pushed my fourth grade teacher, Miss Kamer, too far when she told me to stand up. I watched her write a note and order me to the front of the classroom where I was promptly told to see our Headmistress, Mrs Joss.

Boys were more likely to receive the cane than girls but I did know of a couple girls (including my older sister who visited Mrs Joss and left her office in a good deal of pain. I’d had the ruler on my bottom in front of the class the year before and Miss Kamer had sent two boys to Mrs Joss during the term.

I felt nervous as I walked to the administration block with my note, forbidden to open the note as it was definitely for Mrs Joss’s eyes only. Did I suspect that I was going to receive the cane? I guess I did as I had butterflies in my stomach despite the fact that it was a nice sunny day. I wore the standard uniform of course, grey shorts, grey knee socks, blue shirt, grey v-neck jumper and tie. Mum had polished my shoes the night before so I would not be scolded for a slovenly appearance.

I handed the note to one of the office ladies and saw that there was a girl standing outside Mrs Joss’s office with her hands on her head and nose to the wall. The office lady told me to join the girl with my hands on my head and nose to the wall to wait for my appointment with Mrs Joss.

The girl and I glanced at each other and after a couple of minutes she was summoned into Mrs Joss’ office. After five minutes or so I could hear the cane swishing down three times and two cries of pain. The girl emerged three or four minutes later rubbing her hands together, she wiped her eyes and closed the door.

My arms were beginning to ache by the time the door opened with Mrs Joss standing there; she was not a tall woman but she seemed to tower over me. She wore a dark brown pleated skirt, white blouse and a maroon cardigan. She called me in and sat at her desk.

Those were the days when you had to stand when the teacher entered the classroom and with our Headmistress we had to stand with our hands behind our backs when she was in our presence. I could see her crook handled cane lying across her desk.

I handed her the note at her request and replied with the obligatory ‘Yes, Miss’ when given an instruction and I watched her face darken as she read what my offence entailed. She neatly refolded the note and gave me a stern talking to.

I thought for a moment that might be the end of the matter but Mrs Joss stood up and picked up her cane from her desk. It was not until she caned me for the second time a couple of months later that I realised she kept her cane in a cabinet in her office and that she had two canes. She flexed the cane in front of me and told me to bend over and touch my toes. I didn’t bend over straight away so she repeated her instruction more forcefully and I think I replied with a ‘Yes miss’ before bending over and reaching down to the toes of my black leather school shoes. I was occasionally spanked at home for my misdeeds and I thought that the cane would be like a spanking.

Mrs Joss walked behind me and stood on my left, she lined the cane against my bottom and said: “I am going to give you four strokes,” and something about hoping that I learnt my lesson from my punishment.

For me the cane slicing through the air seemed to sound like a golf swing and the crack was similar to the crack of a golf ball but without the metallic sound. The times that I was caned at school I never felt the sting of the first stroke immediately but after a second or two the sting would form. I heard her count: “One.”

There was another swish and thwack with an immediate explosion of stinging pain. I leapt up and grabbed my bottom and began rubbing feverously, she counted the second and ordered me to bend over and touch my toes. She left two or three seconds before I heard the cane swishing, the thwack and felt the explosion of pain immediately. I leapt up again and was told to bend over and touch my toes (I always wonder why we obeyed that instruction? But I did).

By this time I was fighting back tears and struggling to hold them back. If there was evidence of tears I would be teased mercilessly by the other boys. Mrs Joss gave me the fourth and final stroke, counted it and placed her cane on her desk before allowing me to stand up.

I started rubbing my bottom and was immediately told to stop rubbing and keep my hands behind my back. She took out a green covered ledger and wrote the date, my name, teacher, offence and punishment in the punishment book. I could see her write Cane-4 strokes in the final column. There were a few names before my name including the girl who had been caned before me.

She warned me that if I continued to misbehave in class she would give me six strokes of the cane and send a letter home to my parents, which would probably mean a spanking or some type of grounding for a week. I was dismissed promptly.

The walk back to class was painful and I rubbed my bottom trying desperately to dull the intense stinging. Miss Kamer was writing on the blackboard and all eyes were upon me as I knocked and waited for permission to enter. Miss Kamer did not appear to be as angry with me as she was when she sent me to Mrs Joss. She told me to return to my seat and I winced as my bottom touched the hard wooden chair and I went back to my lesson as if nothing had happened. At lunch I was bombarded with questions about how many I had received and some were checking to see if I had cried during my punishment and I did not see the girl who had been caned before me but I did see her the following week.

Personally I do not have an issue with school corporal punishment. During my entire schooling I received the cane four times. Not that I thought so then, but looking back they were for offences that probably deserved a good few painful strokes of the cane. I guess if you were caned regularly you might have a different opinion and it also might depend on where you went to school, but in my opinion the schools I attended had the discipline balance about right.

Thomas