School Days

The Cloakroom Caper

All four of our classrooms were on the top floor of the school. All were the same size and equipped the same. Because of the climate, each room had a large cloakroom area with a row of coat hangers running the length of both walls, and a small closet with bi-fold doors for the teacher's gear. This area was sacrosanct, never to be looked into by a student. But it was.

Let me explain the cloakroom caper.

It was grade five, and our teacher was Mrs. Macdonald, who rumor had it was very interested in the principal, one Mr. John Charyk. Now grade five seemed to be the foolish year for the girls. They seemed to start noticing us boys and wanting to play Post Office.

Somehow I found a note written by person or persons unknown which read "kiss me I like it." Inspired by the rumor that our teacher was interested in J. C., I talked to my friend Bill Proudfoot about entering teacher's closet only momentarily, to pin the kiss me note onto the back of teacher's coat.

Bill liked the idea but chickened out at the last moment, and gave Allen Mar ten cents to pin the note while he (Bill) watched to see that Mrs. Macdonald didn't show up.

Instead of thundering down the stairs, we all watched as J. C. and Macdonald walked down the stairs together, she sporting our author unknown note. It seemed like a great joke at the time.

Class resumed the next day without incident and all was well until a loud and authoritative knock sounded, the door opened, and there was J. C. with that damned kiss me note. He called the class to order and without explaining where he got it demanded to know "Who wrote this note?" No one admitted to writing such a note which frustrated J. C. no end. He carried the note from desk to desk demanding that we look closely. Poor Barney Connor, a quiet country boy, was in shock when he recognized his handwriting and realized it was his.

Barney had written the note to pin on Eva Mar the week before. Apparently it had been hidden away in some girl's desk, and had surfaced again the day I found it. No matter - the deadly message had been written by Barney and he knew it.

Into the office he went with J. C., as my stomach started to cramp, for I knew that was not the end of it. Sure enough J. C. came back demanding to know who pinned this note on a coat? He did not identify the owner of said coat but I knew, and my stomach tightened some more.

Allen Mar couldn't hold out and left for the office. Another silence fell on the room. Most of the room knew that Allen (being the second most strapped boy in the school), was in for it again, and they were listening for the smack of the strap to start. Only Bill Proudfoot and Ray Cooley knew the strap would not start yet.

Sure enough the door flew open again and J. C. frustrated now called for Bill Proudfoot. Our class was emptying fast. Again my stomach rumbled, because I knew the jackknife I gave Bill would be considered a bribe and implicate me as well in this crime. I did not have long to wait before J. C. returned and called my name. With liquid bowels and shaking knee I joined my three comrades. I was the instigator of the pack. Guilty on all counts. J.C. not only slapped his leg, but also beat violently on the office desk with his fearsome strap as he berated me and finally all of us for this horrendous crime.

To this day I'm convinced he was making a little time with Mrs. MacDonald and decided the whole town would take note if he strapped us four boys. That was my closest brush with J. C. and the strap. I still remember, it was too close.

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