Column: Reunion experience a reminder of painful punishment

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 6, 2002

It’s possible that some readers of this column will take exception to my conviction that members of the fourth estate have, or develop, a kind of passion for accuracy.

This column is off to a slow start because I can’t remember the exact number of windows there were in the house where I lived from the age of 14 months until I was 17 and a half.

As nearly as I can remember there were 14, each one covered by the appropriate draperies and a green shade. You remember the old-fashioned window shades, each attached to a roller at the top so they could be pulled up and down; each one held straight and weighed down by an inch-wide stick thrust through the bottom hem.

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The reason why I’ve been thinking about them is that I spent the Friday and Saturday before Memorial Day in Nebraska City, Neb., my hometown.

Every year on the Saturday before Memorial Day all those who attended the Nebraska City High School go back, if they wish, for a school reunion.

Several of my friends have visited with me and most of them find it interesting. Three of my friends &045; Kim Barr, Chris Schocker and Eleanor Telemaque &045; have wanted the four of us to go together.

This year was the banner year. Eleanor, who lives in California; Kim, an Albert Lean; and Chris, now living in Fairmont, all converged at my house and we set out early Friday morning.

The first person we met as we were stepping out of our car was a classmate of mine, one of the five people from my class who would be there. Mary Liz and I have been friends for at least 80 years. So, as you can imagine, it was a great joy to me to see her, her daughter, and two of her grandchildren so soon after arrival.

Another good friend all through high school didn’t arrive until Saturday evening. Members of each class and their guests were seated together at the banquet Saturday night. Two of the men at the table had been part of the class of 1934. Both of them had also been pupils at the same elementary school Mary Elizabeth and I had attended.

Reunions give one a great deal to think about. One of the men from our class said he had a recollection of someone standing up in a geometry class and telling the teacher it was the most boring class in the school. Someway he associated the episode with me. I confessed to it without shame. It took a great deal of courage to express the opinion but she sat at her desk imploring someone to tell her why we weren’t more interested in geometry than we were.

I don’t like to brood over injustice, but I don’t like to be misunderstood and I was trying to be helpful. The other man, who until his retirement, was a school superintendent, said he felt sorry for present-day teachers who couldn’t lay a hand on the little monsters, no matter how much the little monsters deserved it.

&uot;Well, Love didn’t have to worry about that,&uot; Mary Liz said, &uot;Her mother was the sweetest most gentle woman in the whole town. You never got spanked in your life, did you, Love?&uot;

&uot;By time I reached junior high,&uot; I said with some indignation. &uot;My mother had broken up every curtain stick in the house on me.&uot;

&uot;But she was such a gentle person,&uot; protested Mary Liz.

&uot;They didn’t always break on the first spanking,&uot; I said. &uot;Sometimes she was able to make a curtain stick last through two or three.&uot;

&uot;It must have been an enlightening experience,&uot; said the former school superintendent, beginning to laugh.

&uot;I don’t believe it,&uot; said Mary Liz. &uot;Your mother didn’t believe in corporal punishment.&uot;

&uot;You’re right about that,&uot; I admitted. &uot;She never believed in corporal punishment. But in my case she was always willing to make an exception.&uot;

Love Cruikshank is an Albert Lea resident. Her column appears Thursdays.