Grade School Gun-Slinger
I was seven years old. My family and I were living in the fifth house we had occupied since I came as its sixth and last member. The house, located on the Thomas Long Oil Lease, east of Drumright OK had been built as a temporary, “company” house for oil field workers. It had no electricity, running water, natural gas, or telephone, and the toilet was out back. Kids who lived in that area were in the “Pleasant Hill” school district to which we rode the bus. Other than not sitting on a hill, it was well named, located as it was out in the country amidst open fields and woods. A semi-circular walk in front of the building, with a curb high enough for a little kid to sit on enclosed a garden.
The superintendent, Mr. McCracken, whom I do not recall ever seeing, lived in a house on the school grounds. His house was on a little higher ground than the school building, so a sloping retaining wall, made of native stone, served as a boundary between the two. The wall made a fine place for we younger kids to run up, circle around, and run back down. I believe about a hundred kids, including my much-older brothers Willard and Gene, and sister Frances, attended Pleasant Hill. We carried our lunch, which was often a sandwich made with homemade bread and canned, we called it “potted,” meat which was a paste like substance made of unspecified parts of pigs and cows. It had enough flavoring to disguise whatever taste it had on its own. There was no lettuce; mustard, maybe, and possibly a home made pickle, but no lettuce, cheese, or other trimmings. Sometimes the only thing holding the two slices of bread apart was “sandwich spread.” That was a miracle-whip kind of slime with bits of pickle and other vegetable matter in it. At other times, butter or homemade jam was the filling. Lunchtime was more or less an unsupervised time for we kids. We had an hour, and ate outdoors unless the weather was bad, when we were allowed to eat in the gym.
At some point in my Pleasant Hill days, I acquired a cap pistol, complete with an imitation leather pistol belt and holster. One day, during lunch, a classmate wanted to “see it”. “Seeing it”, of course meant “hold it”. I wasn’t willing to part with my gun so he tried to take it away from me. In the ensuing melee I brought the barrel of my toy six shooter down on top of his head rather forcefully; a maneuver known as "pistol-whipping." His howls of pain brought the wrath of a teacher down on my head. Pleasant Hill wasn’t large enough to have a principal. They made do with a “Head Teacher,” Mr. Wright, who taught eighth grade and was coincidentally my brother Gene’s teacher.
The teacher who stopped the battle and took we combatants to Mr. Wright’s room after the lunch period was over. The pain of the punishment Mr. Wright meted out was mild compared to the embarrassment of knowing my older brother was watching. Mr. Wright’s idea of having the “punishment fits the crime” involved asking each of us how old we were, after which he administered one whack for each year of our age. I do not remember which of us was the oldest, nor do I remember any repercussions when I got home. Being the fifth boy of the family, there just wasn’t much I could do to shock Mother. I was no longer allowed to go to school “armed,” however.
About the author
One whack per year of age. Makes sense. They had to figure out a measurement. Funny. Millard had a brother named "Willard?" At least your parents named you with many siblings between. Had you been named consecutively and regular buddies I can only imagine the "Darrell and my other brother Darrell" fun poking you would've had. I'd like to see a family photo if you have one.
Actually "Millard" is my first name, which I NEVER used until it popped up as a necessity for Social Security and Health Insurance. I "go by" "Don." I use Millard on Internet to distinguish me from my son, who is a "Jr." He NEVER uses Millard either. I can't really mind it. My dad named me after a World War I buddy who was Killed in France. A "Millard Barkley."