“There are three things I remember about Mr. Young’s class: building a crystal radio, hearing about the assassination of President Kennedy, and getting three licks with a paddle for doing something I shouldn’t have in class,” says a former student.
I recently spent time with Bill Young, who one of my all-time favorite teachers. I remember a lot about him during junior high but what stands out the most is that he was a disciplinarian. I don’t recall ever having another teacher with his reputation throughout my 12 years in the Opelika City School System.
While he never broke the paddle out on me, he did lock me in his office one day. I can’t remember why, but it was all in fun. I did get a lick on my hind side that year from Mr. Dudley, but it was for being late to P.E. I had the option of getting a lick or staying after school. I chose the former, because it was too far for me to walk home.
I’ve been at Ft. Eustis, Virginia, for the past two weeks conducting my annual training for the Army Reserves. I’m an individual augmentee assigned to an active duty unit. I miss a great deal about being active duty army, particularly the discipline. As with anything and everything, the army doesn’t have the ability to be as disciplined as it once was, as it now much kinder and gentler, and it shows. It is, however, still much more disciplined than the general population.
Saturday, I was having lunch in Williamsburg. There was a family with a young child in close proximity to me. The young boy was becoming unruly, so I started looking for Mr. Young—or at least his paddle. Fortunately, the father escorted the kid to the bathroom to administer much needed discipline. “I don’t want a spanking,” the boy cried. Upon his return, the kid hugged his mother and told her that he loved her. I’m not sure what happened in their absence, but it worked.
I got spankings from my parents all the time when I was a kid. I’m sure I deserved them and more. My mother was very good at them. “Don’t make me take my belt off” was often said, but the worst was when I had to go get my own switch. That still sends chill bumps up and down the back sides of my legs. Wow! Thirty four months in Iraq and I’m fine, but I may have PTSD from our back yard shrubbery.
My dad used to spank me, too, but he was blind, so I cheated. I would pad my pants or cover myself with a pillow or something. I know that I ought to be ashamed, but I did what I had to do. I’m sure he’s looking down from heaven shaking his head, but I’m sure he understands, too.
Last night, I had all you can eat sushi here in Newport News. It’s the first time I’ve had all you can eat anything in quite some time. I hadn’t felt that bloated in well over a year. I was miserable all night long. I needed discipline, but that’s self-discipline. No spanking was needed, however, as I more than learned my lesson.
At the end of one school year, toward the end of Mr. Young’s teaching career, he realized that he hadn’t paddled a student the entire year. He pondered as to why that was and posed the questions to his students. “Because our brothers had you, Mr. Young. We knew better,” said one student.
Jody Fuller is a comic, a speaker, and a soldier. He can be reached at email@example.com. For more information, please visit www.jodyfuller.com.