It was the seventh grade.
I can still see those lamps, hanging from the ceiling. The room seemed like it was a “squared off” corner of a gymnasium.
The lamps were exactly the kind you’d see in a gym, armored with thin tin and wire cage, with big, yellow bulbs that gave off an almost sickening yellow “haze” that was just enough to read by – maybe a little better than candle light.
The room smelled the whole year of the paint that some school board member bought and paid for so that the teachers, out of work for Summer vacation, could be hired to paint the rooms in the school. The floors were that putty-colored tile.
And then there was this blackboard that stretched all across the room in front of me, and there was a row of windows behind me. I sat in the front row of a rank that faced another rank directly across in front of me with a gap running down the middle that reminded me of a barracks, and the drill instructor was a cat named Horny Haskill.
That was what we called him. I don’t remember his name, and I hate remembering even this, and hate even more conjuring it up from the recesses of my soul for the purpose of this article. But I think it is worth it, given the current times.
Horny Haskill would stride up and down this center isle, treating us like a bunch of low-lifes (worse than the way Marines are treated in movies).
As the year progressed, the boys in the class began to dwindle. The subject was Tennessee History (and to this day, I feel cheated for that year – I would have learned a lot more had it not been for the duress I am about to describe).
Horny Haskill would “lean” on the little boys in this class.
“Come join me at my table,” was the call…and, “Any of you boys want extra credit, you can come to the front and sit at my table”.
To my right, there was a big desk (like those in kindergarten, all oak and big and heavy and flat)…that was the center of his kingdom. Behind it was the blackboard Haskill always used (so we had to crane our heads to the right to look at him as he lectured, there behind his band of little, brave, boy soldiers).
He also was fond of showing film strips.
I can’t remember if he would sneak boys out of the class room or not – I’ve probably repressed it if he did; I know I stayed the hell away from the bastard. I can remember him sitting up at the “head” table during the slide shows and movies – God only knows what those young boys might be repressing even to this day.
The hell of it was, after the first little boy went up there, Horney Haskill would give him “special” duties. He’d get to call the roll, or act as the monitor for the class if Horny Haskill had to go to the bathroom (which he did, quite frequently).
Of course, his “little angel” boys would be just as tyrannical as their master.
Toward the end of the year, there were three of us left among the ranks of the girls in the classroom – me, Hindu and Halston.
I remember one day, Haskill was especially intent on keying on me. I was almost ready to get my books and go up to the “head” table (as we called it), but a little girl sitting next to me said “Don’t do it, Jim”.
I scooted back in my seat.
I know we were all tempted (we ALL wanted to take home good grades to our parents), and I don’t blame (necessarily) all the other little boys. The pressure the teacher applied to us was immense, and I was humiliated, tired and demoralized, as I know was everyone else in the class.
If you are wondering what is the purpose of all this story (and you haven’t guessed by now) – I went to a high school that has the distinction of also being the Alma mater of a very prominent United States Senator.
I understand after a golf match yesterday that the scuttlebutt is that this Republican Senator “caved” on the Sotomayor confirmation.
Crossing over to the left, for me, is just like giving in to Horney Haskill – joining his ranks at his “head” table. You have become a part of the frey…selling your soul to the alternate of goodness, or more simply put, to the devil himself.
It is the liberals who foster this kind of extreme, draconian, morose sort of hell that we were forced to endure there at my school in the seventh grade.
So many are willing to cross over, be it for grades, or for money.
They will sell their souls to the very antithesis of what it is that got them elected to high office in the first place.
They will “cave” in order to perpetuate “the system”.
In essence, they have become their own straw boss, locking themselves in immortal, and inescapable chains.
They have compromised all, and fallen on their swords.
I don’t have a lot good to say about this prominent Senator right now. Thanks to him, all things conservative have taken yet another, major blow.
But I can tell ya this –
I’m glad that little girl sitting next to me in that class helped me when my courage was faltering…I’m glad I stayed the course, and I thank God above not only for that little girl, but for Hindu and Halston as well.
We held the line that year of hell. We did not give in.
It is unfortunate that GOP officials do not have the integrity of those twelve-year olds in Haskill’s class.
(The names have been changed to protect the innocent).