Monday, July 24, 2006

The hose

The hose I alluded to in my last post resided in Mr. Williams’, our principal, office. It was kept in a small, all glass, china hutch to the right of his desk on its very own shelf. South Dakota allowed corporal punishment at that time and the little, black, hose was the only fulfillment that I was aware of being used. It was used for the very hardest of cases, it was said, and most of the stories about the hose were obviously urban legends. I think it was a very effective tool for the principal to use. The principal means of classroom control was to send troublemakers to the hall and extreme misbehavior bypassed the hall with a visit to the principals office. My daughter, a math teacher, informs me that it is exactly the same system in use today, in her school, sans the hose. Glad to see that progress is being made in our schools.

The difference between our discipline system and my daughters was the hose, or at least the threat of the hose. I remember going to the principals office, on legitimate business, and always glancing over to see if the hose was still there and it always was. Once a classmate and I were required to go visit the principal to interview him and write a story. When we were seated, I glanced over to the china hutch for a quick look and the hose was missing. I looked everywhere for the hose, before Mr. Williams came in, and couldn’t find it. I remember a sense of relief coming over both of us as we realized the hose was gone. It was a very good interview with Mr. Williams. We couldn’t wait to get back and tell our classmates that the hose was gone. At the next recess we were informed that we must be nuts because the hose was back. That principal must have known what he was doing. Duh….!

I remember being sent to the hall, for some infraction or other and praying that the principal would not come down the hall because he always stopped and inquired what you were doing in the hall. If the infraction was serious enough he took you to his office to talk with you after giving you plenty of time to stare at “The Hose”. Then would talk to you about the error of your ways and then send you on your way. Every time I had to go to the office for “misbehavior” the experience would always leave me shaking in my boots and swearing I would never put myself in that position again. During a Christmas party in the 6th grade I shot the teacher in the back of the head with a dart gun [long story] and got taken to the office by the teacher. As she left the office, glaring at me, I noticed the principal opening the hutch, reaching in and removing the hose from the shelf. He held it with one hand and struck his other hand with the hose and while looking at me placed the hose on the desk directly in front of where I was about to be seated. As I stood in the office, looking through the glass into Mr. Williams office, I felt myself shaking. As Mr. Williams walked over to the door to let me in, His secretary whispered “good luck” as the door opened. My head snapped around toward her and my eyes got big as she said that. What did she know? Mr. Williams indicated for me to come in and sit down and as I did he began closing the Venetian blinds that separated the two offices. "Oh my God, I'm going to really get it this time", I thought. My heart rate had to be somewhere near 200 bpm. The hose sat on the edge of the desk, directly in front of me. I could feel the sweat dripping down my back and I thought about bolting out the door. I just stared at "The Hose". It looked like he had cut it from his hose that he uses to water his garden. The hose was not perfect as the cuts on the ends were not perfect and for some reason that made me feel a bit better but I still knew I was dead. I tried to look at the principal as he spoke, as I knew this was very important but my eyes kept looking down at "The Hose" no matter what I tried to do. I apologized as sincere as I could and tried to convince him that it was mostly an accident. My mouth was going so fast I was slobbering. One of my problems was that I thought our teacher was lazy and was doing a very poor job teaching us and that finally came out of my slobbering mouth. When it did I figured I was really dead. Mr. Williams stared at me for a long time and then just stood up, opened the door and told me never to come back under these circumstances. I almost broke my neck getting to that door as I tripped over the end of the chair and stepped on his shoe. I never, ever, went back.

Later I met with Mr. Williams and other people on several occasions about the teacher in question. They asked me lots of questions about how and what she had been teaching us. I was always taken aside at the end of these meetings, by the principal and he always told me that he was so pleased I had not been back to his office because of behavior problems. I was pleased with my behavior also. Every time it looked like I was going to “misbehave” I had a really good, close-up, mental picture of that hose. I had been closer to it than anyone I knew and I didn’t want to get any closer.

The following year that teacher did not have her contract renewed and we all had to have special classes to bring us up to speed on English and Math. This had nothing at all to do with my behavior in class as it was all due to the fact that I had been trying to impress a young lady. Boy I bet she was really impressed knowing that I had seen “The Hose” and lived to tell about it.

1 comment:

keewee said...

Great story about the hose. I remember the *strap* I do believe it was a razor strap or is that strop? The boys were usually punished with this, they had to hold out thier hand and the teacher would hit their hand across the palm.