Kid Stuff

The Biting Game

My first three years of grade school were in the small town of Wynona, Oklahoma located in the oil fields of Osage County.  The boundaries of this county encompassed the lands of the Osage Indian Reservation.

The school building was typical of that day.  It was a two-story rectangular sandstone structure.  The restrooms were in the basement.  The doors entering the stairway to the facilities were on the first floor.  One was clearly marked “GIRLS’ and the other marked “BOYS’.

I remember the names of my teachers in each of those three grades and a few of my classmates.  I don’t remember much else but one lesson I learned from my first grade teacher, Mrs. Lesta Hyson.

Mrs. Hyson was an attractive blue-eyed blonde who was much in demand to sing at school and town functions.  Her husband belonged to one of the local Indian tribes and was the high school football coach.  Like all football coaches of wherever we lived, he was a special friend of my dad.

Mother had instilled in me that there were reasons for rules and regulations and that there were consequences if they were broken.  Mrs. Hyson taught us very much the same lesson

Twice a day, our studies were interrupted by a trip to the restroom and recess.  The boys would scramble to the entrance of the stairway in attempt to be the first to arrive so that the winner could hold open the door for the others.  I guess that holding the door open for the others made us feel important.

This contest developed into quite a conflict and soon it developed into a fight.  Word of the scuffle got to Mrs. Hyson and she issued an ultimatum that absolutely no one was to hold open the doors to the restrooms.

The next time we went on our mid-morning break, the winner of the race opened the door and was holding it open when I arrived.  The very idea that one of the boys would violate the edict of Mrs. Hyson was too much for me.

I felt that it was my duty to administer the punishment.  Indeed I did.  I hauled off and bit the law-breaker on his forearm.  There did not appear to be any blood but the imprint of my teeth could be seen on the boy’s arm.

Spring 1933. Melvin Donahue and me. He and I were neighbors in Wynona before and in the first grade. He and I argued a lot. Of course he was always wrong. I think that he is the one I bit.

Spring 1933. Melvin Donahue and me. He and I were neighbors in Wynona before and in the first grade. He and I argued a lot. Of course he was always wrong. I think that he is the one I bit.

I really felt proud of myself.  I knew that Mrs. Hyson would approve if she were to hear of my deed.  I had been the enforcer of her law.

Before I arrived back in the classroom, the crybaby had told the teacher of the incident.   Mrs. Hyson called me to her desk.  She questioned me and made me look at the imprint of my bite on Melvin’s arm.

There in front of the whole class, she ordered me to hold up one of my arms in front of her.  Then she exclaimed that now I was going to know how it feels to get my arm bitten.  She held my arm and bit into it like she was attacking a juicy hamburger.

I wasn’t hurt as much as I was surprised and embarrassed.  With my head held very low, I scampered back to my desk and did not look up the rest of the day.

I don’t believe that there were any more problems about holding doors by any of the first graders and Melvin and I were soon friends again.

I have not bitten anybody since, however, there have been many times that I would liked to have done something similar just to administer justice as I saw it.  My fight for justice is now restricted to the ballot box.

 

Plate Incident

When I was given a retirement party in 1984, many pictures and stories were included in a book of memories given to me by the hostesses.  Some of the stories were true and some were not.  Regrettably, the one written by my mother was true.

When I was about five years old, I accompanied Mother and Daddy to the Eastern Star Hall for a dinner for the members and their families.

We had recently moved to Wynona and Mother’s membership had been transferred to the local lodge.  She was just getting acquainted with the members and wanted them to think the best of her family.

We were seated at a table, waiting to be served.  One of the ladies brought dinner plates full of food to my parents.  Immediately thereafter my food was brought to me.  But there was a big difference, my food was on a salad plate.

Without protest or explanation, I threw my loaded plate on the floor.  Broken china and food flew in every direction, splattering on some of the attendants.  There was a hush throughout the hall.  Everybody’s glaring eyes and grim faces were focused on me.  I still can remember the embarrassment I felt.

Mother excitedly questioned me why I would pull such a trick.  My reply was that I should have a plate the same size as theirs.

I was given another plate of food.  The size, I don’t remember.  We finished our meal and returned home shortly thereafter.  The looks on Mother and Daddy’s faces should have been punishment enough but I received a big piece of Mother’s mind as soon as we were in the confines of our home.

I have never thrown a plate of food on the floor since.  I know that if I were to pull that trick even now, Mother would find a way to punish me.

 

Bus Ride

Buses provided much of the transportation when I was a child.  Our short trips were by automobile and the long trips to visit mother’s parents were by train.

I remember my first bus ride.  It was with Mother when I was about five years old.  It was a seventy-five mile trip to Tulsa so Mother could shop.

We were about half way to our destination, when I whined to Mother that I was sick.  I had broken out with perspiration and I felt that my head was spinning.

When I told Mother that I was going to vomit, she told the driver that he had to stop the bus immediately.  The bus was pulled to the side of the road and the door opened just in time.  I upchucked all over the surrounding area.  We soon got on our way and arrived in Tulsa on time.

When it was time for lunch, Mother took me to a family style restaurant.  I didn’t like the idea of eating with a bunch of strange looking people but I was hungry.  I didn’t rebel as I sometimes did at church potluck dinners.  At those meals, I would ask who cooked each dish I was interested in and refuse the food if I didn’t like the cook.

We made it home without further incident.  I have ridden a lot of buses and I have had some motion sickness.  Luckily, I have not had to stop a bus for my illness since that ride to Tulsa.

 

CONCLUSION

My Mother’s hair turned white before I reached the fourth grade.  I am still wondering why.  It must be hereditary.

 

Jim Pershall

April 2012