The Mischievous School Kid
"...When I first went to school, I think I was about six years old or something like that in the fall when I went to school, and our school was about, oh, 700 - 800 yards away from home. I was kind of a mischievous guy in school, and if I didn't get a beatin' every day I always thought the teacher was sick. I went to school with quite a number of teachers, and I got a beatin' from all of them but the last two and the only reason I didn't get a beatin' from them was because they was so old they had arthritis in their arms and they couldn't get their arms up above their hips, so they couldn't beat me and them's the only two. They used to stand me in the corner and I'd have to stand there maybe for half and hour or three quarters of an hour. Right in front of me me in the corner was a map of Africa; well, I'd stand there and I'd study that map of Africa and I knew every river, and every town, and every city, and every trail, and every nationality that there was in Africa and I knew more about that by standing in the corner so many times than I did about Nova Scotia.
So, I had one teacher there, oh she was a hard girl, she was about 17 years old but she was even nasty with herself, she was kind of a mean tempered outfit. I went to the school one morning along with a bunch of girls there, my sisters and all, and right across from the schoolhouse there was a woods come out to the road. And it was in the spring of the year and there was a little rabbit setting there along the road eating grass. So I bent down and picked up a rock and as I straightened up I threw the rock underhanded and I hit that rabbit over the eye and killed it dead. Well them girls couldn't keep their big mouths shut and they had to run into the schoolhouse and holler 'Teacher, Alban killed a rabbit! Teacher, Alban killed a rabbit!'
So she said to me 'Come on in the schoolhouse.' so I went in and she kept me in till school went in. And then that recess she told me to stay in, and I stayed in at recess. And when I went back at noon why she kept me in, and that night after school, why she told me to remain in my seat. Well, I knew I was going to get a lickin' because you got a lickin' in those days for doing very little things. So, I set in my seat and after she let the kids out she locked the door and she went up to her desk and got the strap out and she told me to come up. Well, the strap she had was about two feet and a half long, it was made out of belting out of a mill. It was about, oh, a half inch thick, and two inches and a half wide, it had a handle shaved on one end of it, and had rubber on both sides and when you hit that rubber would bite right in your hand.
I got so many beatin's that my hands was toughened up anyway and calloused and I didn't mind the beatin's after the first crack, the hands would get numb. She hit me 17 times on each hand and when she hit me why the strap was coming up on my wrist, she was cutting the edge of my wrist. So after she hit me 17 times on each hand she told me to go back to my seat and write 'I will not throw stones.' 100 times on the slate. So I went back to my seat. I couldn't pick up the slate pencil, my fingers was numb and they wouldn't move and I just couldn't make my hands work. So she was putting work on the black board and I sat there until she got done about five o'clock and she said, 'You got your work done?' and I said, 'No.', 'Why not?' Well I said, "I can't write!' She said, 'Why Not?' I said, 'My hands is numb', and I said, 'I can't make the fingers pick up the slate pencil.' Well she said, 'You go home and you come back tomorrow and you'll stay in at recess and you'll write that on your slate 100 times.'
So, I went home and I knew I was in for it when I went home because my father said if I ever got a lickin' in school and he knew it, he'd give me a worse one when I got home. They was very strict with us; he told me many times not to throw stones. He said 'If I ever catch to throwing stones I'm going to give you a lickin!' So, I went home, and I knew the girls told him where I was. It was a little after five o'clock when I got home and they had their supper, and we had chores to do, everyone had a certain number of chores to do. He said to me, 'Where you been?' And I said, 'Teacher kept me in school.' And he said, "What for?' Well, I knowed it was no good to lie to him because he always said my lies wasn't true. So I said, 'Well, I throwed a rock and killed a rabbit.' I said, 'The teacher kept me in and give me a strapping.' He said, 'Well I'm gonna give you a worse beatin' than the teacher give you!' So, he got this big old straight razor strap down, they had those days for strapping straight razors. There was leather on one side and canvass on the other and it was about, oh, two feet and a half long and three inches wide and on the end of it it had a big iron swivel on the end of it for hanging it up so you could flip your strap over when you were strappin'. Well, he grabbed me by the back of the neck and he beat me around the floor there for quite a while and I done some very fancy dancing. And when he got done he said, 'There, that's just a lesson of what you'll get if I ever catch you throwing stones again', he said.
So, anyway, Mother said, 'You get up to the table and get your supper!' And I said, 'I can't eat my supper!' I said. 'I can't sit down', I said, 'and my hands is numb and I cant pick up my fork!' She said, Well you get upstairs to bed then.' So I went upstairs to bed and I lay across the bed, I had to lay on my stomach, I couldn't lay on my back, and I had one hand out each side of me and I laid there till nine o'clock. She come up and she had some supper for me. She said, 'Eat your supper.' And I said, 'I can't, my hands are still numb and I can't make my fingers work!' So she fed me my supper and she said, 'You got just what you deserved!' She said, 'You've been told time and time again not to throw stones and maybe this will be a lesson to you!' She said, 'You'll probably learn something from this!' So she said, "You get to bed now and in the morning probably you'll be able to eat your breakfast.'
Well, I got up in the morning and I could move my hands - they was sore - but I moved them and kept moving and moving them till I got them so they would work. So I had to eat my breakfast standing up; I couldn't sit as my rear end was sore. And I went to school and when I went to school why I told the teacher what had happened and I said, 'I can't sit in the seat!' And she said, Can you sit on the side of your leg?' and I said, 'I might.' so I sat on the side of my leg that day. And I said well it don't pay to do anything wrong with this teacher here because you are going to get a bigger lickin' than ever.
Well, those days you didn't have to do much to get a lickin'. If you're whispering to the guy you were setting in the seat with and the teacher saw you she'd tell you once not to whisper. And if you kept it up and she caught you again she'd give you a strappin'; you'd get four or five cracks on each hand. She had what they call a wooden pointer - she use to have it to point on the black board - made out of ash and she would 'd walk around the school with that and if she saw you whispering to a guy you'd get that right down over the head or over the fingers, either one, and they were very strict with it cause they had to and they had to keep their score.
Well, I used to be kind of mischievous. I used to take these little balls of paper and I'd snap them across the room and hit these other girls in the face or somewheres and they would go 'Whoop!' And the teacher would say, 'Who done that?' Well so and so would say 'Where did it come from?' 'Oh, well Alban snapped it.' see. Well then I went up and I got another beatin' so by and by my hands got so calloused that I did not mind the beatin' but it was just a little embarrassing to me and the kids would always grin and laugh when I was getting this strapping.
We used to have to wear our shanks when we was young. We wore moose shanks and cattle shanks. I had a pair of black and white shanks on one winter in school, they was spotted black and white. There was one girl there went to school and she was scared to death of these shanks. So Id go to work when the teacher wasn't looking - working on the blackboard - and I'd go 'Pssttt!' to this girl and she'd look across. And then I'd wiggle my toe across the floor towards her with these shanks and she'd let out a scream! And she'd tell the teacher what happened and I'd get another beatin' for it. So. I got so many beatin's that, well, I got used to them after a while. But as I got older - around 11-12 years old - I decided that I'd better cut out my mischievousness and settle down and see if I could get away without beatin's. So my last two teachers didn't give me any beatin's on account of they couldn't...."