Learning to Write
by William L. Alton

My third grade English teacher, she didn't believe in spanking a kid.

All the rest of the teachers, they hung up their boards of education on the walls behind their desks like hunting trophies, or rifles to be respected.

Most fancied theirs up a bit. This one guy, he bound the handle in leather and tapered the holes so that you could hear the whistling coming right at your ass.

The principal, he'd pull the corners of his paddle over the edges of his desk to make them rough, so that half the time I'd have to ask Momma to pull splinters out when I got home.

My third grade teacher though, she was a Quaker or some such strangeness. Instead, she assigned poems, or articles of the Constitution and gave us a day to memorize it before we recited it to the whole class.

One time I got wise and told her no. She called Momma to come pick me up in the middle of the day. Momma whooped me with an old leather strop and set me to washing walls.

I figured it wasn't worth the trouble after that and just learned the literature.

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