School had started up again, and I was not happy about that, as usual. “Locked up again” is how I referred to it. I loved the outdoors, and school really messed that up for me. I had my mind on all the things I would like to be doing instead of school work. I would be so happy when it was time for recess.
It was just fifteen minutes though, and the whole time I would worry about the bell ringing that would end it. I tried to do as many things as I could in fifteen minutes, but it went so fast! I would play on the swings for a few minutes, then the monkey bars a few minutes. I played jump rope if I had time, or hopscotch.
I loved the merry-go-round the best. We were not allowed to stand up on the merry-go-round, and that is where I had a problem one day at lunch time. I knew I was not supposed to stand up, but I got carried away and stood up anyway. The teacher on the play ground told me to sit down. I did sit down, but a few minutes later I stood up again. The teacher came over a second time.
“Ruthie, you need to get off the merry-go-round,” the teacher said.
“I don’t want to get off yet,” I told her.
“You cannot stand up. Get off now,” she insisted.
“No, I’m not. I’ll sit down.”
“You need to get off right now.”
I did not move to get off. The other kids were looking at me as if to say, “Boy, are you in trouble.”
I thought, “If I am already in trouble, I might as well just keep on riding.”
The teacher then walked over and reached out for one of the bars to stop the merry-go-round. It slowed down. I knew I was in trouble for sure. She walked over to me and grabbed me by the arm.
“Get off right now.”
“Okay, I am,”I said.
“You waited too long. You’re going to the office.”
“Why am I going to the office?”
“I hope to get a rubber tubing.”
“What is that?”
“You’re going to find out.”
She still had me by my arm, and it was starting to hurt. But my main worry was the rubber tubing she mentioned. What was that all about? She kept walking and pulling me along.
“Let me go,” I said.
“No, ma’am. You are going to the office.”
“You better let me go, or I am gonna tell my daddy on you.”
“He will probably spank you, too.”
“He will not. He never spanks me.”
“You are in serious trouble little girl.”
“So are you when my daddy comes up here.”
That teacher was really mad at me. I would have been mad, too, if a child spoke to me like that. But at seven years old I was thinking other thoughts. My daddy was going to be real mad if she spanked me. No one was allowed to spank me but Mother and Jeanie, my big sister.
Finally we were at the office door. She opened it and pushed me inside. There was another door with a sign that read Principal. “Uh-oh,” I said to myself. She opened that door, and a big fat lady was sitting at a desk. It was Mrs. Maddox. I was getting more and more worried that they were going to spank me.
The teacher sat me down in a chair across from the principal. Then she proceded to tell her what I did. She told her how I was standing up on the merry-go-round and talking back to her. The principal looked at me.
“Did you do all that, Ruthie?” the Mrs. Maddox asked.
“I stood up on the merry-go-round. I didn’t talk back,” I said.
“You did, too,” the teacher said.
“I just told her that my daddy would be real mad if she spanked me,” I explained.
“Well, that is talking back,” the teacher said.
“No, it’s not. It’s telling the truth.”
The teacher stood up, and the principal told her she could go. She went out and closed the door. Mrs. Maddox opened her desk drawer and took out this thing made out of rubber. It was kind of yellow in color, and it was made like a tube. It was like a plastic fish tank hose, but it was bigger around and made of rubber, not plastic.
“Stand up, Ruthie, and bend over my desk.”
“No, I’m not going to.”
“It will just be worse if you fight me.”
“Let me call my daddy.”
“No, you can’t call your daddy.”
All of a sudden she reached out and grabbed my arm. She raised her arm to hit me on my bottom. She missed and hit my leg. I yelled, and she hit me again on my leg. I couldn’t get away from her. She was holding my arm so tight I could do nothing but yell. She hit me three or four more times with the rubber tube. It really stung my legs.
I was crying. I tried not to, but it hurt like the dickens. She hit me a few more times. I think she was mad because I wouldn’t be still to let her whip me. My own mother never spanked me that hard. Neither did my sister Jeanie. When she finally let me go, I turned and ran out the door as fast as I could go. She was yelling at me that I better come back.
I ran all the way home. I was crying so hard I couldn’t see where I was going. I stopped and looked at my legs. They had red welts all over them. I didn’t have welts this bad when Mother spanked me with the ice box belt for blowing up the oven.
I ran in the back door, and Daddy was in the kitchen.
“What are you doing home from school, Ruthie?”
“They tried to beat me to death at school, Daddy.”
“What do you mean?”
“Look at my legs, Daddy.”
He looked at my legs and turned me all around so he could see all the welts on me.
“Who did this to you?”
“The principal,” I said.
“Why did she do it? What did you do?”
“I stood up on the merry-go-round, and she said I talked back to a teacher.”
“Well, did you?”
“I just told her if they spanked me that you would be mad.”
He got up and took my hand, and we went out the door and started walking to the school. He was real mad. We were walking fast. I had to run to keep up. When we got to the school, I showed him where the principal’s office was. We went in, and he asked a lady in the office to see Mrs. Maddox.
“She is busy right now, sir.”
“She is not too busy to see me,” he said.
“But, you can’t see her now. She is real busy.”
Daddy just turned and walked into her office. She was sitting at her desk.
“Did you do this to my little girl? Did you beat my daughter like this?”
“She disobeyed the rules on the playground.”
“I asked you if you put these welts on my little girl.”
“Yes, I did. I had to. She also talked back to a teacher.”
“I am telling you right now, lady; don’t you ever touch her again. I have never spanked my daughter, and you have no right at all to spank her.”
“But, Mr. Carter, she has to obey the rules.”
“If she does something at school that she needs a spanking for, then you call me.”
“But she needs to be punished for what she did.”
“Her mother is the only person who spanks her,” he said. “No one else lays a hand on her. Don’t make me come back up here; and that goes for her sister Margie, too.”
He took my hand, and we left the school and walked home. When we got home, my mother was there, and Daddy told her what happened. She was mad as a hornet when she saw my legs. Daddy told her that they were not allowed to spank me or Margie at school. He told Mother about the rubber tube that Mrs. Maddox used on me.
My daddy never went to our school. This was the first and only time. But the reason he went meant everything to me. I knew that there was nothing that he would not do for me and for all of us.
He protected me when I needed him. I know I should not have stood up on the merry-go-round, and I know I should not have sassed the teacher. That was disrespectful to an adult. But, mine was not the only mistake made that day. Mrs. Maddox made a mistake when she whipped me with that rubber tube. Had it not been for my daddy standing up for me, more kids might have had a taste of the rubber tube. I don’t recall ever hearing anything else about the rubber tube from anyone. So that was a lesson learned day for Mrs. Maddox and for little Ruthie.