These are the types of desks we had when I first started school in first grade. Lord that was a long time ago. I was five and it was 1970. Most of you bloggers probably weren't even born yet. But first grade left a memorable impression on me. As it did on everyone in the classroom. We had number lines and our names taped to our desks and if we were caught peeling them off we were forced to stand on a tape line at the front of the class. I was never there, but my best friend Jill, never one to follow rules was there more than once.
We had a mean teacher. I mean she was a bitch. She shouldn't have been teaching children or adults. She wore a beehive hairdo, strawberry blond that I swear was a foot tall. She was petite and covered with freckles and her face always looked like she'd just smelled something distasteful, probably us. She had rules and one of those was the number line. Another was, act like a grown up, no more sucking your thumb. She said it over and over to a cute boy who hadn't lost his baby fat yet, with big rosy lips that had his thumb in his mouth. He hid his face in shame, but obviously needed the comfort of his thumb to get him through the day. Why she chose to pick on him, I'll never know. But she was relentless that first day.
Finally, she got a pacifier out of her drawer and told him to suck on that, it was for babies. I was embarrassed for him and started to cry quietly. I don't know if others laughed. Probably, but she was the teacher, so he did what she said. He put his head down in shame. Teachers got away with a lot of shit back then. Some good, some bad. Anyway, Tony, the boy sucking on the pacifier was mortified and stuck his head in the table of his desk. (Our desks were a table and a chair, just like the one pictured above.) But when she saw what he had done, Mrs. Nicholson (yes, someone had actually married that bitch) told him to pull his head out and sit up.
As Tony tried to pull his head out, he realized his head was stuck in the desk. The janitor had to be called and if memory serves, they had to take the desk apart to get his head out. Meanwhile, the whole class is disrupted.
I don't recall the pacifier incident being repeated. I don't know if Mrs. Nicholson got reprimanded for her behavior. What I do know is that Tony's first impression of school was a bad one and he was scarred by it. He was a troublemaker and never succeeded in school after that. Sadly on the night before he was going to get married, he was running across a busy highway to get a pack of cigarettes and got hit by a car. He was killed instantly. Do you know who I blame? I blame Mrs. Nicholson. He never had a chance after what she did to him. He went through life expecting nothing but shame and ridicule from school. First impressions are everything. But for school it can make or break you for the rest of your life. So Tony, may you rest in peace and know that we all remember what happened to you and how she humiliated you and some of us were ashamed for what she did, but too afraid and too little to speak up for you. I'm sorry I never told you this before, but I'm sorry that happened to you. You deserved a better first day. You deserved a better beginning.