I spent my grade school years in the 50's in a large northeastern US city. Our school building was a large, forbidding affair that was obviously built to stand the test of time. It had steam radiators that banged and clanged as they provided winter heat and tall wood-framed sash windows that provided our only relief from the summer heat. The building was built in a large figure-8 pattern with two inside courtyards for ventilation. The fortress-like outside walls were made of timeless red brick; the parking lot was paved with clinkers from the coal-burning boilers that served the radiators. Those cast-iron radiators provided a good ground for my "Rocket Radio", the primitive precursor to the transistor radio. Individual portable radios were such a new idea that the teachers had not yet gotten around to outlawing them.
Our administrators were quite unlike the remote disciplinarians usually found in spanking fiction. Our principal was a motherly, usually kindly, competent, gray-haired lady who loved cats. The assistant-principal was a friendly, somewhat bumbling middle-aged guy. Appearances aside, when the situation demanded action, they would cheerfully serve up corporal punishments that ranged from a ruler-slap on the palm all the way up to the occasional bare-bottom paddling. Most teachers sent errant students to the office with a note explaining what they had done wrong. For some reason, the male Physical Education coach and the boy's Shop instructor both took care of their own "business" with paddles that they kept handy. Looking back, it is clear that our PE coach was a spanko. He seemed to find far too many excuses to lower his student's gym shorts and warm young bottoms, and was also fond of relating the punishments he dished out at home to his own children.
Sometimes, the school office would summon a child who was guilty of some infraction that happened outside the classroom, these were often the most serious situations. More often, teachers would send a miscreant to report to the office with an explanatory note. A "trip to the office" by no means assured that the student was going to receive corporal punishment. I made several such trips over my school years and the worse I ever got was a few slaps with a ruler on the palm of my upturned hand. That palm slapping was for a shameful incident where I joined a mob that was beating up a fellow student. The only reason I got off so lightly was that the principal seemed far more interested in dealing with the ringleaders than with the bit players like me.
Sometimes real life is better than fiction. Like I implied, our school was solidly built, so sounds did not normally carry from room to room. However, there was one glaring exception. Although we spent most of our day in our homeroom, we did have a few special classes. Twice a week, we visited a special room for Social Studies. This room had several large maps hanging on the walls and a large globe in one corner. It also had a pile of National Geographic Magazines where I (like many young males) got my first glimpse of an undraped female body. This classroom had another special feature; by some strange acoustic anomaly, loud noises in the principal's office could be heard clearly. More than once, we heard the distinct sounds of a spanking in the Principal's office while our teacher tried to pretend that nothing unusual was happening. I was always interested to count how many swats I heard before I heard the anguished voice of the student connected to the bottom being spanked. Only once did I hear a student crying before the spanking even started. Another time, the girl sitting next to me recognized the cries; it was her brother. She told me that her brother would be "getting it" again at home. She did not have to explain, my parents had a similar policy. Had I ever received a spanking at school, a church function, Cub Scouts, etc. I could always expect a duplicate punishment later at home.
The school secretary seemed to have a key part in the disciplinary process. When you entered the school office with the dreaded "note", she was the first person you had to deal with. You had to stand there at a counter until she recognized your existence. Then she would get up from her desk, take and read the note, and then decide how to deal with you. She was known to perform minor punishments herself, or she would determine if you needed to see the Principal or the Assistant Principal. She also acted as the official punishment witness and the keeper of the spanking implements. If she took you in the see the Principal, and she happened to bring the paddle in with her, you knew that you were in big trouble.
The Principal's paddle was the subject of a certain amount of awe and mystery to us students. It was not something she brandished and displayed. In fact, few of us ever saw it, so it continued to grow and get more fearsome as a sort of school legend. The popular wisdom was that it was the size of a fraternity paddle and that it had huge holes in it to make it swing faster and sting ferociously. Those few fellow (and sister) students who had actually felt the paddle confessed nothing to reduce the legend. The Boy's Shop teacher verified that the paddle was made there in his shop by a previous generation of students, but would part with no further information. Little did I know that I would be one of the few students to see the paddle without being in danger of feeling it, albeit from a distance and with it in purposeful motion. To me, it looked more like a slightly thick ping-pong paddle that the frightful fraternity paddle of school legend.
That glimpse was in a scene that still haunts and delights me to this day. I had just walked out of the front entrance of the building at the end of the school day and was standing on the lawn waiting for a friend to emerge, when I heard the distinctive sound of wood colliding with buttock. I was not thinking about it at the time, but I just happened to be standing right outside the Principal's opened window. Like a camera in tight focus, my gaze panned from the school entrance over to the open window, which framed an awesome and totally unexpected scene, even though the tallness of the building and my youthful shortness denied me a direct view. I was just tall enough to clearly see the Principal's head as she was sitting in a chair facing the window; she was looking down, totally intent on her task. My view took in the sight of the Principal's paddle-wielding hand making several trips from high in the air and then snapping forcibly down to a point apparently just above her lap. After several swats I saw a pair of feet and ankles, hobbled by a tangled pair of brown corduroy pants and white underpants, kick high in the air. And of course, I very clearly heard the student's boisterous, anguished response. I heard no begging, and no "ouch", this boy went straight from silence to incoherent bawling as that paddle did its work on his bare tush. After the spanking, the principal stood holding one arm around the still-squalling boy, placed a cushion on a chair, and sat the chastised, blubbering student on it. I watched the whole performance, rooted to the spot, immobilized in awe. I felt simultaneously fascinated, repelled, thrilled and horrified at witnessing this bare-bottom OTK paddling. I never found out who that person was, what he did to deserve that punishment, or why his spanking occurred after class. Regardless, I remember that moment as if it were just this afternoon.
Copyright (c) Guy Spencer 2003
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