Bad Judgements Brought Swift ConsequencesIn Ontario Catholic schools in the 50's and 60's every teacher was equipped with a 16 inch long, 1 1/2 inch wide black strap .For the most part it kept students on time for school,quiet in line, attentive in class and diligent in work habits.It was an equal opportunity event for boys and girls, from grade 1 to grade 8.It was used often ,was always applied to the hand, and usually was administered in front of our peers.
We were conditioned early on to submit our open palms with fortitude. I only remember one boy in grade 4 dancing around the floor and refusing to put his hand out. His punishment was the worse for it, and he was sneered at by his peers.
I was strapped several times for the usual offences- missed homework, talking, not paying attention- and had received no more than three swats with the strap on each palm. Certainly that was enough to keep my hands hot and stinging for half the day. Don't let anyone tell you it wasn't effective. It was.
Grade 7 was a different experience. I had my first male teacher and he had a reputation for being bad-tempered and 'strap happy'.I disliked him intensely.Unfortunately, when I was kept after school to finish some work one day, I found myself alone with him and used bad judgement. He told me to clean up some spill on the floor . Indignant, I refused as I had not made the mess. He repeated the order and feeling my face flame with anger but also fear I dropped the dirty cloth he gave me on the spill and used my shoe to wipe it up.When he then demanded that I bend down and clean it up I blurted out "Do it yourself." Furious, he threw open his desk drawer and grabbed his strap. I realized too late that I had begun a battle I could not win.
Towering over me, he demanded I hold out my hand. Automatically I put it out and with the best intentions braced myself for the first blow. When it came its impact made my arm fall and my hand curl up involuntarily. He ordered it up again and gave me five more very intense wallops. My hand was by now registering severe pain so when he demanded my other hand I faltered, mouth trembling and eyes beginning to brim. Impatiently, he grabbed my left wrist raising my hand high, turned sideways, backed up , and laid on six more strokes.He then told me to clean up the spill properly.
The burning pain inflicted on my very red and throbbing hands dulled all my other senses and I was mortified that my uncontrolled trembling betrayed the deep distress he had caused me . Only as I fled the school did my tears and sobs also escape.I never told anyone of this encounter.