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The Blanford Incident

Remember the days when teachers had REAL authority, plus the right and the inclination to SCARE kids? This is such a story.

Once there was a modest elementary school in a middle-class neighborhood in the flyover part of America. It offered all the benefits of schools at the time: the three R’s, ample discipline, and a nice belltower to warn the start of school. Besides these elements there were also teachers, a janitor named Mr. Brown, and a fair, but somewhat stern principal, Miss Marsh.

Women comprised the entire faculty, as was the custom of the day, save for one out-numbered male. The poor beleaguered man, one Mr. Blanford, trudged to work each morning, knowing that he would face a roomful of unruly ten-year-olds, partially because of their nature, but also because discipline was not his strong suit. Besides his classroom duties, the man’s contract required that he coach the Sixth Grade Basketball Team and supervise recess. The only things missing from his job description were sweeping the hallways and emptying the numerous wastepaper baskets, both happily seen to by Mr. Brown.

It is during Blanford’s recess duty that our story commences. It had been a particularly difficult day, begun by an argument with his wife before departing his home. Then as he was conducting class, one especially troublesome girl noticed a tack lying on the floor near her desk. Since the teacher’s empty chair sat nearby, she resisted the angel on her shoulder and placed it, pointy side up, on his chair. While delivering what he thought to be a very helpful tidbit of information, Mr. Blanford sat on the tack-spiked chair, howled and jumped up. As the class laughed, he immediately identified the girl culprit. He grabbed the closest book and began to chase her about the room with the book raised over his head, as if to throw it at her. Remembering his wife and children who depended upon him for food and housing, he reluctantly restrained himself, with considerable disappointment.

Fast forward to recess on the playground, as Blandford stood stonily, watching to see which of the hooligans would transgress first. The hulking, clumsy bully was a safe bet, but the teacher’s money was on the girl from the tack incident. When not putting tacks on chairs, she possessed a flair for mimicry and a razor-sharp wit—not always the best blend for staying out of trouble.

As he stood there on that cold, cheerless day, he needed SOMETHING to raise his spirits and called the clever mimic artist to his side. “Do Donald Duck for me,” he commanded. Sensing her opportunity to ingratiate herself with her teacher, and because that impersonation was one of her best, she broke out quacking and began talking “in Duck.”

After a stunned silence, Mr. Blanford burst into gales of laughter and the forgiven girl walked away with a “Get Out of Jail Free” card. And as for Mr. Blanford? He went back to the same wild kids, but a little more cheerful.

The moral: Never underestimate the power of an Old School clever girl.


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