The following story was related to our contributor by his father, and comes from his dad’s own boyhood in the late 40s/early 50s. His son has attempted to retell this incident as his father described it to him.
By the time we got to the second year of primary school, we’d all had the edges knocked off us a bit. At six years old, we were all bit more boisterous, adventurous and knowledgeable. Mrs Owen was our teacher and although in theory she could send us to the headmaster for the cane if we really misbehaved, she managed to keep order with harsh words and a bit of shouting.
This particular day, she was a bit late getting back to the classroom from break, for some reason, and a few of us likely lads (and one or two girls, too, as I recall) suggested writing ‘rude’ words on the blackboard while Mrs Owen was gone. I can’t even remember now who actually put chalk to board but we all thought it was hilarious, although it was all pretty tame – we all knew ‘bum’ and I think we had ‘poo’ and ‘willy’ and ‘fanny’ up there as well.
There was a sudden skedaddle as we heard Mrs Owen coming up the steps to the mobile classroom. She greeted us normally but then turned around and her jaw dropped. She turned back to us with a very red face, though whether that was from anger or embarrassment, I don’t know.
“Right – who’s responsible for this filth?” Well, of course, by six we were all well ingrained with the honour code that you don’t snitch on your classmates, so we remained silent.
“This is your last chance, children. Either I get some names now, or you are all in very serious trouble.” I guess we thought that might mean being kept behind after class or something fairly innocuous, so still no-one spoke up.
“Right,” said Mrs Owen in a determined voice. “That’s it – every boy and girl in this class is going to get a smacked bottom.” That was enough to break our silence, and indeed some names were at last offered up, but it was too late, as far as Mrs Owen was concerned.
She pulled out her chair from behind her desk to in front of the blackboard, still bearing the shameful words. Then she ordered the children sitting in the first row of desks in front of her to come out to the front and line up before her.
Then she started to smack our bottoms. Boys had their shorts and pants taken down, and girls had their knickers yanked down and their skirts turned up. Then each one was put over Mrs Owen’s knee and soundly smacked till their bottom was red and sore. Pretty soon, the only sounds in that classroom were those of naked bottoms being slapped and kids crying. No-one was brave (or stupid) enough not to cry when they got their turn.
I was in the third row to come out. There was a little girl called Alison in front of me and in other circumstances I would have liked to have seen her bare bum but now I just watched in horror as Mrs Owen undressed her, put her across her knee and made her roar from the spanking.
Then it was my turn. I remember the feeling of Mrs Owen’s hands inside my underpants as she took them down, then I was looking at the floor, my bottom was smarting and there were lots of tears. Mrs Owen made a much better job of smacking me than my mother and father ever did when I was a naughty boy.
Mrs Owen was as good as her word and went through the whole class like a tornado. Of course, nowadays such an incident would be a complete scandal, but back in those days, teachers had the power of parents. I think only one or two parents complained, and they were brushed off by the head, no doubt.
Some of my classmates, I know, got their bottoms tanned again at home for being in trouble at school. I think my mother was going to do the same for me but then she took down my pants and saw that my bottom was still red from the previous spanking so she just sent me to bed early, with only bread and water for my supper.
We never played Mrs Owen up again. I can only imagine how sore her smacking hand must have been that evening after being used across around 30 kids’ backsides!