I grew up in the mid-west in the 1970s. Fortunately for me, my mom was not into spanking. I got the occasional swat on the bottom when I was real young but she gave that up when I was about five.
Unfortunately for me, corporal punishment was still around in the schools and heavily used in my elementary school. Most of the teachers did some of their own spanking but the worst was to be sent to the principal’s office. The terrible Mrs B, our principal, instilled terror into the hearts of all the students.
I still have her formidable image burned into my brain. Of course, it’s from the perspective of an eight year old, so she probably wasn’t really 8ft tall and built like a linebacker! But she was a tall woman of good proportions and she frequently toured the school, paddle in tow.
I also remember the paddle. It was smooth and wooden, not very thick, but had a fairly large oval shape to it. It had a leather thong and some kind of clip that allowed her to clip it to her belt. I would always shiver when she walked by.
Despite being a fairly precocious child, and occasionally a sass, I escaped any spankings or trips to the principal’s office for the first three years. Believe me, after seeing a few of my classmates return from a session with Mrs B, I was always pretty careful not to cross the line. But one winter fate took control over my destiny…
It was mid-winter. We were warned, as we were every year, that two things could get you a quick trip over Mrs B’s lap. The first was intentionally ‘charging up’ and then zapping a fellow student with static electricity. The other was snowball fights. The latter was to be my downfall.
Recess on the fateful day was like any other. It was clear and cold and we started making snowmen. Some rowdy boys knocked the head off my snowman. I chucked the head at him. He threw a snowball at me (technically the first snowball!) and the fight was on.
By the time the recess monitor had broken up the melee, at least two dozen kids from first through fourth grade had been involved. It had been the biggest snowball fight anyone could remember. The recess monitor dragged a few kids off, but somehow I avoided detection.
I returned to class, praying my anonymity would hold. The teacher told us to take our seats and said that Mrs B would be addressing the school over the loudspeaker system. I sank in my seat, my heart pounding in my ears.
The speaker crackled and Mrs B told the entire school that those individuals who had participated in the snowball fight would be punished. She then began reading names from a list. Obviously, the kids who had been nabbed on the playground had sung like a bunch of canaries once in Mrs B’s clutches!
The third name read on the list was mine. Terrified of my fate, I began to cry. My teacher gathered up the criminals from her classroom and led us from the room. No amount of begging or pleading could sway her. I was so distraught, I could barely walk.
We were all taken to an empty classroom and lined up from youngest to oldest by class. It was clear that at least a few lucky ones had escaped detection. There were about 12 of us and I was somewhere in the middle of the line.
Mrs B paced in front of us, her infamous paddle swinging at her hip. I know she lectured us about the dangers of snowball fights and about being disobedient but I don’t believe I really heard any words. I felt like a deer caught in headlights.
Once she was done lecturing, she pulled a chair from behind the desk and placed it in front of us. She sat down and motioned for the first in line, a boy from the first grade, to come over to her. I remember his face being white, and he failed to respond to her at all.
Mrs. B quickly grew angry, got up and dragged him over to the chair. She sat down again and placed him in front of her. She asked if he had anything to say. He didn’t. He was already crying too hard to talk. She then unhitched his pants, pulled his pants and his underwear down to his knees and hefted him over her lap.
I believe Mrs B had perfected the art of paddling. She delivered five hard smacks with her paddle to the poor boy’s bottom. She used a slow, even rhythm and the paddle was large enough to cover both of a child’s cheeks. Each swat sounded like a gunshot and the whole line of us jumped at each smack.
After she had finished, she started a new line opposite ours. The boy had to face away from us, his bright red bottom on display in case anyone in the line might forget what was coming.
After watching two more first graders take their turn, I tried to build some courage. I could endure five swats. It would be over quickly. But to my horror, when Mrs B started on the first second grader, she delivered ten swats. And frankly, it looked to me like she was swinging harder.
Being in the third grade and having enough math to comprehend my fate, I knew I was destined for 15 swats. I was so frightened by the time it was my turn, I’m amazed now that I didn’t wet myself. Only later was I thankful I wasn’t in the fourth grade!
Mrs B called me over but fear put cement in my shoes. I could not make myself go over to her. My mind raced. I contemplated trying to make a run for it. I think she must have read this in my face and got up quickly and grabbed my arm.
In a flash, my trousers and underpants were around my knees and I was over her lap. I struggled a little and begged and pleaded, but to no avail. The first swat felt like fire. I tried to cover my bottom with my hand, but she pinned my arm to my back and the next swat was harder than the first.
Mrs. B slowly delivered all 15 swats and then stood me in the line with the other spanked bottoms. I believe both my mind and my bottom were numb, because I don’t remember any of the other spankings.
Once she had thoroughly spanked each of us and lined us up, she walked up and down behind us, giving another lecture. Occasionally her speech was directed at an individual and required an appropriate ‘yes ma’am’ or ‘no ma’am’. Anyone failing to answer quickly and appropriately got another swat from her hand. I avoided this fate by answering quickly and correctly.
We were finally directed to pull up our pants and walk quietly back to our classrooms. Regardless of the humiliation I felt returning to class, I was enormously relieved to be out of sight and hopefully out of mind of Mrs B and her paddle.
That was the end of my snowball fighting days!