Punishment I Deserved
Among my memories are several incidents from childhood which lingered after others were gone. I have used these true-to-life examples when teaching biblical principles to children over the years. One of them is a clear, detailed account of an incident in first grade. Mama bought me a new plastic umbrella and I “bugged” her until she finally agreed to let me take it to school one day. Of course, I did so under the threat of a keen hickory on my legs if anything happened to it. As soon as I got to class I started showing it off. “This is a NEW product called PLASTIC and it is wonderful and strong and will last forever,” I told everyone as I passed it around. When it reached Robert Hamrick, he laughed and told everyone that the ole umbrella had come from his daddy’s store (Hamrick’s Store on Shelby Highway) and that plastic was really cheap and easy to destroy. He even said that my umbrella would tear real easily. “Will not!”, I said. “Will too,” countered Robert. This went back and forth a few times until I knew it was time to prove my point, so going over and snatching it from his hands, I grabbed that umbrella and made a strong, ripping movement. Guess what! I ripped the plastic umbrella into two pieces.
I don’t know if I was more embarrassed or scared. Robert (and the others) laughed but my mind was on that keen hickory. When I got home my explanation was in place. I did NOT actually tell Mama that Robert ripped my umbrella . … I just handed her the pieces (crying) and said, “It’s Robert Hamrick’s fault.” Well you know the routine. My Mama called his Daddy who promised a refund. The next morning at school Robert just stood in my face and said, “You’re gonna get yours.” I learned that his parents had given him the whipping that I deserved. I used that real story hundreds of times to tell how Jesus Christ “took our whippings” when He died on the cross.
Another incident happened in third grade. Everyone in the school from twelfth grade down to the third could whistle.. .except me. Oh, it wasn’t because I didn’t try. My lips stayed in a perpetual pucker but for some reason I could not quite master the art. The principal’s wife, Mrs. Beatty, was our teacher and as she stood at the blackboard writing one day, with her back to the class, it seemed a good time to get in a little practice …..so-o-o-o I did. Time stood still that day, for suddenly, with no warning, the loudest, longest whistle you ever heard in your life came right throught my lips. WOW!
My excitement was cut short when Mrs. Beatty turned around and started down the aisle in my direction. It was one of those times you just felt like you might go to the bathroom right then and there. As she reached my desk, I looked down as if I were totally involved in my textbook. She took one step past me and reached out for the shirt of Hoyt Hawkins who sat behind me. She lifted him out of his seat, practically drug him into the cloakroom and the next sound we all heard was her whacking Holt …and him yelling at the top of his lungs that he didn’t do anything.
Another example of someone else taking the punishment I deserved!
I spent a number of years trying to avoid meeting Robert or Hoyt in the hallway and trying especially to avoid eye-contact. Wherever you are, guys, I am sorry.
Another significant thing about that year was when the “dam” children started coming to our school. We had been aware for some time that Duke Power was building a dam but it really came as a surprise when they started constructing a village of beautiful homes …brick homes…and suddenly new, different people started moving into our lives. I can remember how I, as a “mill village” kid just looked in awe at the new kids …their clothes …their confidence …their knowledge of a whole world I knew little about. More surprising was the way they just fit right in with us and I can never remember one acting better than us, though I felt sure they must be. Some of my best friends in this world came from that group …Jim Cauble, Peggy Deck, Jim Cannon, Don Black, Marion Pendergrass, James Raines, Doris Raines, Kenn West, and John White. Today, when I count my blessings, I count those people twice for they brought a new dimension to my life.
Those were times!