A Striking Example

I like to write about the good-old-days, but sometimes the good-old-days were not so good. This poem is the story of the first day of class–fifth grade–and a stern teacher, who wanted to get his point across the best way he could think of. To a nine-year-old boy, things weren’t that complicated; you thought, you acted, you paid the price. Such was life in the good-old-days. Also submitted this to Jinge Poetry’s “Poetry Potluck” this week. Their theme included sorrow, and this was pretty sorrowful back when it happened!

 A Striking Example


Candy, two for a penny

Grape soda pop was a dime

Twenty-five cents, see a movie

Didn’t cost much to have a good time


A dollar, back then, a small fortune

In those days of yesteryear

But, alas, was also a time

When a teacher could paddle a rear


I remember it well, yes I do

Was on the very first day of fifth grade

Teacher warned us then left the room

Was then my mistake was made


I’ll just sharpen my pencil, I thought

What harm can come from that

His instruction specific, stay in your seat

Oh, man, wish I’d kept myself sat


For no sooner had I left my chair

Was he there and the paddle he got

And a striking example I made

By receiving the year’s first swat


Copyright © 1998 C. Mashburn


  1. Sherry Mashburn said

    Cute poem about simpler times, with simpler joys . . . and discipline

  2. Oh wow for sharpening a pencil. I am from NC so for all I know they still spank kids but we did have that when I was little I refused it. I told them when it was degrading (I was ten) what a defiant little blighter I was. Very charming poem =)

    • It wasn’t the pencil sharpening, it was the disobeying of the direct order that we were not to leave our seats for any reason. His intent was to teach us that not following directions had severe consequences. I have to admit, there was very little nonsense of any kind in Mr. Powell’s classroom. Another side note: in my family, if you got a paddling a tschool, you recieved another one from dad when you got home. It was rough in them days!! I don’t think refusal would have worked in our school, during that era, but I’d have been willing to give it a try!

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