Four months after I had first been caned by Mrs Joss, I made a second visit to her office. The great school fruit fight was the reason for my second visit and, unlike my first visit, over ten others were sent to see our Headmistress for the same offence.
The fruit fight started at recess, I don’t remember how it started but certainly a boy threw some fruit at another boy and it had quickly escalated. I was guilty of throwing a softened apple (you softened an apple by lightly tapping it against a hard surface. I had thrown my apple and hit a girl on her leg. The teacher on recess duty summoned the second teacher on duty and they quickly obtained the names of the guilty parties and five girls were also involved in the incident.
It was fairly quiet after recess; Miss Kamer was taking us through our mathematics lesson for the day. Being in fifth grade, I was beginning to see females differently and I was partially distracted by the movements of her bottom beneath her skirt as she wrote on the blackboard. About half an hour after recess there was a knock at the door, one of the office ladies entered and walked up to Miss Kamer and passed her a note, and Miss Kamer turned to us and said: “Our Headmistress wishes to see…”
My name was read out third along with my friend, Edward, and Susan who sat at the desk in front of me. We stood up at Miss Kamer’s instruction and waited for her to dismiss us. It was a short walk to the administration offices and my heart was pounding, with my first visit to Mrs Joss’s office and the four strokes of the cane she had given me fresh in my mind.
As we approached the administration offices we saw two girls and a boy emerging from the offices clearly in pain and distressed. The office lady led us to Mrs Joss’s office where we had to stand with our hands on our heads and noses to the wall. Having my nose against the wall was unpleasant as it would tickle and I dared not take my nose off the wall or scratch it for fear of being punished further; to relieve the tension I would squeeze my eyes shut.
My wife became a teacher and eventually a Headmistress and she told me that she and her peers would mostly keep the misbehaved boy or girl waiting as it made them think about their predicament and what their punishment might be. During my wife’s tenure as headmistress, corporal punishment was no longer part of schools’ discipline policies; however, she did give the slipper quite a few times. Mrs Joss made us wait as she had done when she gave me the cane the first time. Unlike the first time, I knew that we were going to be caned.
Mrs Joss came out of her office; she was formally dressed in a dark grey skirt suit and blouse. She looked stern and ordered us to enter her office. As soon as we went inside we stood in the classic military at-ease stance as required when being addressed by a teacher or our Headmistress.
Mrs Joss seemed angrier than when I had first visited her. It was clear why we had been summoned and she told us that we were going to be punished for the fruit fight. There was no inquiry into if we were guilty of our misdeed, or why we had done it. She scolded us severely stating that we had disgraced ourselves, that we were lucky that someone was not hurt and that we would be severely punished. She did not have her cane on her desk like the last time and it did not occur to me why she had put it away after caning the boy and the two girls before us.
“I am going to give the three of you the cane.” She announced. Susan began to protest and was immediately told to be quiet.
Mrs Joss went to and opened the cabinet and I could see two canes hanging by their crook handles from a rail. I did not recognise the cane that she had used on me but both canes appeared to be identical. She selected the second cane and closed the cabinet. She faced us and flexed her cane three times and swished it down twice.
She called Susan forward and scolded Susan for not saying ‘Yes, Miss’ when given an instruction, Susan protested and Mrs Joss repeated her instruction. Susan began sobbing as she moved forward. Much to my surprise, Mrs Joss ordered Susan to bend over and place her hands on her knees. The girl whose caning I had heard when I made my first visit to Mrs Joss had been caned on her hands. Susan wore the standard girls uniform of a grey tunic, blouse with a cross tie and a grey jumper. She bent over the second time she was instructed and was again scolded for not saying ‘Yes Miss’ as Mrs Joss walked behind her.
Mrs Joss announced that Susan’s punishment was four strokes of the cane. She stood on Susan’s left as she had done when she caned me and laid her cane across Susan’s bottom. She drew her cane back and swung it forward. The cane cracked across Susan’s bottom and Susan yelped in pain, leaping up to rub. The sound of the cane striking her bottom did not seem as sharp as it had when I had been caned. Susan was told to bend over again and she obeyed with the obligatory reply, a couple of seconds later the cane cracked across her bottom. Like she had when she had caned me, Mrs Joss counted the strokes. Susan was in tears after the second stroke and she rejoined us in line after her four strokes, crying. She had jumped up after each of the last two strokes and when she stood back in line Mrs Joss scolded her for rubbing her bottom.
I was next in line and Mrs Joss called me forward, I managed a ‘Yes, Miss’. She flexed her cane again and ordered me to bend over and touch my toes. I obeyed her immediately and tensed my body as I felt her cane press against my bottom. Mrs Joss announced that I would be receiving six strokes of the cane, my heart skipped a beat. Six strokes of the cane was the most you could receive and was usually reserved for major offences. I was not aware of any girls who actually received six strokes but by the end of my schooling most of the boys I knew had received six strokes at least once.
Again I didn’t feel any immediate pain as the first stroke landed but then the awful familiar sting formed as Mrs Joss counted the first stroke. The second was delivered a couple of seconds later and I managed to stay bent over but I did bite my lip and wince.
I received the third stroke and I cried out and jumped up grabbing my bottom and rubbing vigorously. I managed a couple of rubs before being told to bend over and touch my toes.
“Keep your knees straight!” Mrs Joss snapped. I obeyed her, felt the cane press against my bottom and felt another bolt of stinging pain. I leapt up again and was told to bend over and touch my toes straight away after Mrs Joss had counted the third stroke.
Thwack! “Four.” I managed to stay bent over despite my bottom being totally on fire, I was now fighting back tears as the fifth stroke was delivered.
I leapt up and started rubbing my bottom. I had tears in my eyes. I bent over and was scolded for not saying ‘Yes, Miss’. I stammered a ‘yes miss as the sixth stroke was delivered. My bottom was raging with stinging pain and the six strokes hurt much more than the four strokes I had received months before. I was not allowed to rub my bottom and I stood next to Susan wanting to rub my bottom but fearing another dose of the cane. I didn’t rub despite having my hands behind my back.
Edward was called forward to receive his caning and like me he was going to receive six strokes of the cane. I was too wrapped up in how sore my bottom was to have cared much about how my friend was doing as Mrs Joss caned him, but like Susan and myself he leapt up and rubbed his bottom after some of the strokes.
Mrs Joss took out the punishment book and recorded our names, offences and punishments as soon as she was seated. When she had finished she announced that in addition to the cane we would have three days of after school detention and we would have to take letters home to our parents to have them signed as recognition that we would be on detention. We returned to class and on our way back we saw three boys approaching us all of whom I recognised as being part of the fruit fight.
As with my first caning I was bombarded with similar questions, what had happened, how many I had received and checking to see if I had cried. Girls handled it different, Susan was still upset and her friends were comforting her. We collected our letters from the office.
Mum sent me to my room to wait for my father during which they would discuss what to do with me when he got home from work. Just before dinner he came up and sat on my bed. Dad asked me what had happened and after I told him he asked me if I had received the cane. I told him that I had, he was not surprised that I had been caned for it. I thought my father would spank me for my misdeed but he didn’t. He said that the punishment from my school was satisfactory and that I deserved my caning. He did warn me that if I was involved in the same or similar incident he would spank me like he had never spanked me before even if I had received the cane as well. My only punishment was an early bedtime that night.
Again looking back I deserved my punishment from the fruit fight as I would have hated to think that somebody could have lost an eye during the incident. I will admit to being scared of Mrs Joss when she caned me that day, probably more scared than the first time as she was quite fierce when whacking the three of us and having to watch Edward and Susan receive the cane did not help matters. As I mentioned earlier over ten were caned that day and most of us who were kept behind were kept behind for our participation in the great fruit fight.