Lou Brancaccio, editor of the Vancouver Columbian, had a “Don’t Do Stupid” campaign several years ago. The campaign included mugs for sale or awards.1The cup photo was copied and cropped from https://www.columbian.com/news/2014/feb/10/get-your-dont-do-stupid-stuff-mug/.
Thinking about how many of the cups I could earn led me to remember some of my “Don’t Do Stupid” activities.
School had already started when I entered the second grade in 1943 at Moxie, WA. My migrant worker parents were picking end-of-the-season hops.2Being of Norwegian decent, they were the minority field workers of the time.
Two boys I didn’t know asked me to leave the school grounds with them during lunch recess so they could buy some candy. I didn’t have any money to spend but walked with them. We lost track of time and the kids were in class when we returned. When the teacher asked, we didn’t lie about what we did.
He lined us up in front of the class and explained that he was going to give us a reminder. I wasn’t sure what to expect. We were told to take everything out of our back pockets. Many boys had red and white plaid hankies, and a few had wallets. I had nothing so that was easy for me; but I still didn’t know what to expect.
The teacher separated the first boy from us, so he was facing an open space between his desk and the students’ desks. When he took a long wooden paddle from his desk drawer and said, “Reach down and touch your toes,” I knew what was next.
The crack of the paddle on tightened denim was impressive as he hacked the first boy. “Did that hurt?” the teacher asked.3It was commonplace in those days for a teacher to punish a student with a hack on the rump.
The boy said, “Yes sir,” and was sent to his desk. It went the same for the second boy. He gave me my hack and asked the same question.
Being the new kid, being stubborn, and not wanting to appear weak. I said, “No.”
The teacher hacked me several more times and after each swat he asked the same question. I gave the same answer. The pain increased with each hit, and I realized that if I wanted to sit without a constant reminder I’d better say, “Yes.”
I did! He stopped!
Lesson learned: Don’t do bravado stupid!