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Most people think of School Board when they see or hear about the board-of-education. I’m here to tell you that the board-of-education is far from a School Board! Usually a board-of-education was made from a piece of 1 inch by 4 inch piece of lumber somewhere between two and three feet long. A handle was usually carved into one end of this board and some had elaborate carvings on the business end of the board.

I met the board-of-education on my first day of school at recess. There was a merry-go-round and I liked to ride that merry-go-round. I did not think that pushing the merry-go-round was too much fun and refused to push. My first grade teacher felt this was not in keeping with the school tradition of joining in and that resulted in my tiny rear meeting with the board-of-education.

That started what was to become a real close relationship between me and the board during the rest of my school career.

My third grade was with a teacher who gritted her teeth causing the veins of her neck to stand out. I met the board again when I showed her the veins in my neck to the great delight of my classmates.

My sixth grade was filled with delight and despair. We were made to practice our letters on ruled paper. I just never was very good at this so decided to lay my ruled paper over the top of the letter page and traced the letters perfectly! The teacher just did not want to believe that that perfect paper came from me and laid it on top of the letter page! Hello board-of-education!

I was doing real good in the seventh grade and trying to stay away from the board until Leo, one of my classmates who liked gum created a situation that I just could not pass up. Leo liked gum, especially chic-lets, the kind of gum that came with a white sugar coating. I found some fin-a-mint, a laxative, gum that looked just like the chic-let gum. I put that laxative gum into a regular chic-let gum box and took it too school. At recess, Leo saw that I had the “gum” and wanted some. I allowed him to take all he wanted! Back in class, Leo began to fidget and squirm. He asked the teacher to allow him to go to the restroom, but as it was just after recess she refused. Leo squirmed a little longer – too long as it turned out! He got up to run for the restroom, but we all could hear his bowels letting go and the smell was pretty bad! The teacher ran after Leo and I suppose learned of his problem first hand. She later stormed back into the classroom with the principal and headed directly to my desk. I was roughly yanked up and the board-of-education was applied to my backside!

Leo came back to class white-faced and weak. Leo never chewed gum after that!

The eighth grade I just knew was going to be my year until I chanced upon a live wood rat in my after school travels. Vernon, a classmate, had a great fear of rats. Those were the days of zippered notebooks and early one school morning I got to the classroom first with that rat. With some work, I got the rat into Vernon’s zippered notebook and placed the notebook back in Vernon’s desk.

Mrs. Vick was our teacher and she must have had a great fear of rats also. When Mrs. Vick instructed the class to get out their notebooks, I watched with anticipation as Vernon got his and began unzip it. The rat struggled to jump out and Vernon slung the notebook, with the rat, away – they landed near Mrs. Vick’s desk! Mrs. Vick’s scream, along with Vernon’s, just plain disrupted the classroom. I was laughing pretty hard when I noticed that Mrs. Vick was staring at me with what appeared to be malice from on top of her desk.

The rat was caught and put outside. I was escorted by Mrs. Vick to the principal’s office. He was overjoyed to see me as it gave him a perfect excuse to use his “board-of-education” on my backside. I felt the punishment was unjustified since it was Vernon who had slung the rat toward Mrs. Vick. In addition, I was never thanked for the exercise that it provided to Mrs. Vick. That was quite a leap Mrs. Vick made. From a seated position to the top of her desk in one single bound!

The 9th grade was super. We were introduced to chemistry and I just loved chemistry! There were so many things that one could do using chemistry and not just the experiments in the books! Sodium was amazing. It sputtered and flitted about when it came in contact with water. That set me to thinking.

We used real ink and ink pens on our homework in those days, not ball-point pens. The ink came in a glass bottle with a small ink well built into it. I wondered what would happen if one put some sodium in the ink well and then threw the ink bottle. Would it explode? Yes it did!!! With ink splattered all over the walls. It was a truly exciting thing to watch. The Chemistry teacher did not think it was so exciting and “helped” me down to the principal’s office for a liberal application of the board-of-education.

My 10th grade was going to be better until the band concert. There was a band concert scheduled in the school auditorium that was eagerly awaited by the student body. I had learned that when a firecracker fuse was inserted into a lighted cigarette it took approximately 15 minutes for the fuse to ignite. With great care and stealth that “bomb” was placed on the back of the stage before the concert began. The assembly was gathered and the concert started. During a particularly rousing song the firecracker ignited! There were band members everywhere – they overturned chairs and leaped from the stage in great numbers. It was a truly momentous occasion and one to be remembered by all. When things settled down a bit the principal escorted me to the stage and with great vigor applied the board-of-education to my back-side! Seems he had seen me emerging from backstage prior to the concert and found me guilty.

My last year in school was started with a firm resolve that the board-of-education and I were not going to meet again. It was not my fault that I was exposed to the procedure for making hydrogen-sulfide gas in chemistry class. I put together a small hydrogen-sulfide gas production apparatus and placed it with loving care in a locker near the school lunch room. It began to produce the gas which smelled pretty bad – so bad in fact that the lunch room wing had to be evacuated and just before lunch to boot.

Needless to say it was not very long before the notice came for me to report to the principal’s office and the board-of-education was applied with loving vigor.

I did learn from that board. I learned to pad my pants, grit my teeth and bear it.

© John D. Beeson November 2007

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