Monday, May 28, 2012

Sue’s Gym Storeroom Paddling

© Guyspencer 2012

Sue’s Gym Storeroom Paddling

This story came to my mind by a strange route.  In a moment of web idleness, I decided to check to see if my old elementary school still existed…it does.  It even had a web page of sorts, which refreshed my memory of the address.  The next step was Google Earth to see if it still looks the same as it did so many decades ago.  Amazingly, it does.  Looking at the familiar form of the school, I was able to take a mental walk through the halls.  It was the gym and playing fields that really triggered memories for me.

Our gym was actually what they now call by some fancy name such as “multi-purpose room”.  As you walked in the door, the right side belonged to the two gym teachers, but the left side opened up into a huge kitchen where anonymous ladies toiled to prepare lunches for those who could afford them.  The rest of us brought our lunch in brown bags and bought government-subsidized milk in strange little triangular cartons for a mere two cents. 

The bulk of the space was a vast wooden-floored no-man’s land that was sometimes gym and sometimes cafeteria.  Huge metal picnic-style tables cleverly folded out of the south wall when we needed a cafeteria, and equally ingenious bleachers could be pulled from the north wall to be used for games and certain school functions.

Gym class for us older kids was a “double-period”.  Except for the feared dance classes, and the occasional day when one gym teacher was absent, boys and girls were usually separated into distinct classes   Miss Epps was the female gym teacher, while Mr. Dickens was in charge of us boys.

Thinking back to her dress, hair style, and mannerisms, it’s pretty clear that Miss Epps was a lesbian.  Perhaps that’s the reason she showed little interest in us boys.  Also thinking back, I’m 100% sure that Mr. Dickens was a spanko.  He often mentioned spanking and paddling when talking to us, and even described the spankings he gave his own children, usually disguising their descriptions as moral lessons. 

Outside of the Principal’s office, there were only three staff members who seemed to be deputized to apply correction to our bottoms; the two gym teachers, and Mr. Teede, the boy’s shop teacher. Of course, Mr. Teede was the maker of the school’s paddles, which explains why he had one.

The school’s ultimate punishment was a spanking, a hand spanking to the bare bottom.  Paddlings (over clothing) were far more common than spankings, but were considered a lesser punishment.  By far, most spankings occurred in the Principal’s office, but Mr. Dickens loved to remind us that gym teachers were also empowered to spank.  In the gym, corporal punishments happened in the only truly private place available, in the gym storeroom, a big windowless closet.  


There is one day that stands out in my mind, even though it’s been half a century.  That day’s gym activity was softball, played on an outside field.  Two diamonds were set up in opposite corners of the field, one for each gender.  The fields were marked with chalk lines that the teachers made with a special cart.  Another cart held all the softball equipment; the dusty bags we used for bases, the bats, the gloves and the balls. 
Most boys thought of softball as “sissy baseball” but I was quite indifferent.  Totally hopeless at most sports, I was always the last chosen when teams were formed, and ended up at the end of the batting order.  No wonder!  I rarely managed to hit a ball with a bat.

Our class period was well past the halfway point when it happened:  There was a sudden ruckus on the girl’s diamond.  Some of the boys claimed to have seen what happened, but all I noticed was a bunch of girls milling around a girl who was lying on the ground.  Several of the girls were pointing indignantly at one of their number, while others bent over the downed girl.

The news quickly spread all over the field, Sue Smothers had deliberately tripped Jane Evans while the teams were changing sides.  Jane was bleeding!

We saw Miss Epps wade into the crowd.  Soon she had things sorted out.  Jane was on her feet, but even from across the field we could see blood streaming down her face.  Miss Epps yelled at Sue, telling her to stay with Mr. Dickens until she had time to “deal with her”.  She yelled instructions to her class.  They were to pick up the equipment and then go change.  Then, supporting Jane, she started off for the school, presumably to deliver Jane to the school nurse.

Sue’s penchant for tripping people was well known by all.  It was her favorite trick.  Even though she had been called down for it by several teachers, and even received a paddle swat once, somehow she couldn’t shake the idea that this was a very clever thing to do.  However, this was the first time that anyone had actually been injured by her antics.  This raised things to a whole new level!

Mr. Dickens made Sue sit by the fence as the boys played out our last inning, and then collected the sporting equipment and neatly stacked it in the cart.  Finally us boys, the cart, Mr. Dickens, and Sue all headed for the gym to change clothes.

Inside the gym, Mr. Dickens sent Sue to wait in the office.  The office had large windows, so he could easily keep an eye on her.  Moments later, Miss Epps arrived from the nurse’s office.  She was livid!  Jane had a bloody nose and deep scratches on her face.  Her mother had been called.

She marched into the office to confront Sue.  There had been enough witnesses and enough prior history that there was really nothing that Sue could say in her own defense.  Besides, as far as we could tell, Miss Epps wasn’t letting her get a word in edgewise!

Spellbound, we all watched the show.  Soon Miss Epps marched Sue out the office door and towards the storeroom.  The paddle in her hand made her intentions clear.

In the silence that followed, Mr. Dickens herded us boys into our changing room.
I was halfway through changing when I noticed half the boys gathered under a certain vent.  The vent obviously connected to the storeroom, because you could hear everything that was happening there.  Uncharacteristically, the boy’s changing room suddenly went dead quiet.

We could clearly hear Miss Epps, “Bend over.  Hands against the wall. Stick out that butt!  You’ve got six coming young lady!”

We all gasped.  Four was the most we had ever heard of anyone getting!  The usual punishment was just one or two strokes!

Hearing sentence pronounced must have pushed Sue over the edge.  She immediately dropped her brave (or was it stunned?) front in favor of a fervent and loud appeal for mercy.  On reflection, Miss Epps was probably a bit out of control, and had no business punishing anyone until the situation calmed down, but this was another age.  Back then, a teacher’s authority was unquestioned.  Especially one with a paddle in her hand!

We clearly heard the paddle hit.  Sue didn’t take it well.  She started screeching.  She must have jumped up, because Miss Epps ordered her back into position.  After a breathless silence, we heard the next paddle stroke.  Sue’s pained reaction was even louder.  Sue must have jumped up again, because Miss Epps loudly ordered her back into position.  By now, Sue was howling continuously.  All dressing activity in the boy’s dressing room had ceased.  We were all totally transfixed by the drama in the storeroom.

Miss Epps next statement astounded us! “I’m tired of this Missy.  You’ve got one more chance to stay in position.  If I have to hold you, you get the rest of your swats on your bare butt!”  Sue started begging again, complaining about her burning bottom.

Then we heard the third paddle stroke.  To me, it seemed louder than the first two. 

Sue took that one no better that the first two.  The sounds coming from that vent were truly horrendous.  Even today, I believe that Sue deserved a good paddling, but the reality of listening to her punishment was sobering.

Predictably, Sue failed to say in position.  We could tell because Miss Epps stridently commanded her to take down her shorts and panties.  Sue loudly demurred, so I suspect she received some help getting them down.

Just then, Mr. Dickens walked into the dressing room.  “What’s keeping you boys?  If you are so interested in what happens in that storeroom, there will be a vacancy in a few minutes. I’ll be happy to give you a demonstration.”  Naturally, we all jumped away from the vent and quickly started dressing. 

But then we all heard the paddle fall again, only this time it sounded different!  It was the high cracking sound of wood meeting bare girl-flesh.


Miss Epps gave Sue the last three strokes all together.  Sue screamed as the paddle did its work, and then started bawling inconsolably. 

Everything stopped in our dressing room.  Mr. Dickens stopped and stared at the vent just like the rest of us.  I have no doubt that perve was picturing Sue’s rounded paddle-marked bare bottom.

By then we had all heard quite enough.  The bell rang, so we happily escaped the gym to go to our next class.

All in all, it was just another day in gym class.

© Guyspencer 2012


Anonymous Ordalie said...

You are responsible for me wasting about two hours frantically trying to find Huntingdon grammar school UK. I say wasting because it doesn't exist anymore, it is now the Cromwell Museum!

"Thinking back to her dress, hair style, and mannerisms, it’s pretty clear that Miss Epps was a lesbian." It's wonderful what one realises much later in life!
And we can't help comparing what used to be a commonplace occurence with the different point of view of today.

1:46 AM, November 24, 2012  

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