Blackboard Jungle

I’m not going to mention the guy’s name because I just found out he’s still alive, still married, and has been honoured in a big way for being a fantastic teacher over the years.

I’ll tell you how fantastic he was.

He was my grade six teacher and when he heard one of us talking, he’d turn beet red. Then he’d throw chalk at our faces as hard as he could.

That’s when he was only a tad upset.

If he was in a slightly worse mood, maybe he couldn’t get laid the night before or couldn’t find his Brylcreem, he would throw, as hard as he could, wooden chalkboard erasers at us. Often he connected. He would have made a fine pitcher.

If he was in a really bad mood and heard us talking, he would slowly walk down the aisle to our desks and slap us silly across the head a half-dozen times or more, jangling any previous geography or arithmetic lessons we might have had lodged in our brains.  

And if he was in an extremely bad mood, worse than the last mood, and heard one of us talking, which unfortunately was often me, he would walk slowly down the aisle again, grab us by the hair and shake us violently back and forth a bunch ot times, and which felt like our scalp was coming off. And for the grand finale, he’d lift us right our of our seat by our freaking hair. Some of the girls cried when they saw him doing this to us.

It hurt like hell. No wonder I don’t have a full head of hair now.

This was a big guy too. I used to see him in church and wondered, as he prayed and looked normal, if he slapped his wife around.

I found an old email address online for him a few weeks ago and tried to write him a letter, but the address was no longer valid and it didn’t go through. I wanted to tell him that if he ever did to my kid what he did to me and others, I’d have him charged.

I also wanted to mention that maybe, just maybe, he took any enthusiasm I might have had for school out of me forever. But I never told my parents what he was doing to us. I don’t think anybody told their parents. I don’t know why.

Anyway, I googled him and to my surprise, found him. There he was, looking much older, the slicked back Elvis hair now the thin grey hair of an older bugger, accepting an award.  Congratulations, Mr. teacher.





18 thoughts on “Blackboard Jungle”

  1. Those were the good, old days, Dennis. Let’s face it, man; he made you what you are today — a supreme hockey writer .

  2. I had lots of teachers like that in school Dennis. I went to school in a very small town, where nobody wanted to work, so I got the pick of the litter really. I just found a cool picture online of my old school though. It was one of the last old wooden school houses in BC. The school was built in 1919 and the picture was from 1926 (it has chickens on the front lawn). I went there through the 80’s and have some good and bad memories from it. I can’t remember how many times i was hit in the head with textbooks by my grade two teacher. She was an old bat and was the last teacher to live in the old teacherages from the war on the site.

  3. Jesse, it’s too bad teachers were like that and they sure wouldn’tget away with it now. The guy I had would’ve been fired for sure if it was now. And for you, grade two is much too young to be getting hit on the head with textbooks. Did your folks know what the old bat was doing?
    Also, I’d like to thank you very much for reading my blog in the off-season. I really appreciate it and I really mean it. Here on the coast the weather has really sucked and we’re starting to wonder if we’re going to get summer at all.

  4. DK, I also had an asshole like that in grade 7. He stood 6 ft 4 in & toward over us, this aholes name was Mr. Kent. When giving the strap he would raise up on his tip-toes to exact the most force as possible.
    One day it was my turn but I would not react to the pain but took note of his stance when he delivered his corpral punishment. On his 4th strike I pulled my hand loose & he connected with his own gonads, after the pain subsided he marched me down to the priciples office & told him what I did. To his surprise the priciple asked why I had done this, I told him how he gave the strap & he asked the ahole if this was true. He waffled with his answer & the principle said by your supposed answer I conclude the the students statement to be truthfull & this type of punishment will not happen again as long as I run this school, do you undestand Mr. Kent! Yes Victory, & I never ran into a problem with him ever again!
    It must have been that early rebellion that lead me to become later on “ONE OF THE BOYS”!
    Cheers from the East!!!!

  5. I may not comment too often Dennis, but I’ve read your site everyday for a good four years now I think.

  6. I think it’s terrible how teachers years ago got away with such abuse. There were some really deranged people who got their kicks being mean to kids and they messed up quite a few lives. It’s true most kids just kept it to themselves and I don’t know why either it’s just the way it was back then. I’m glad to hear at least one A-hole – Mr. Kent – got his own strap in the nuts. Nice going Mike!

  7. Great story, Mike. Good to seea happy ending. And maybe my teacher led me to become “one of the boys too.”

  8. Jesse, you’ve made my day. I read this comment from you at work and it made me feel great. Thanks a lot. Hope you’ve enjoyed reading.

  9. Danno, I’ve thought I should send him a note but what good would it do and maybe he has a lovely wife whom I don’t want to feel bad. A guy at work read my story and told me his dad found a teacher like mine who had been the same sort and wrote him a letter. I see that there’s lots who had teachers like this and I’m glad it doesn’t happen anymore. At least I hope it doesn’t happen anymore.

  10. Danno, I think at some time DK mentioned you were from the”HAMMER” also. The school in question was W.H.Ballard PS.,at the time it was built in the early 20th century around 1918 it was the largest public shool in the British Empire. Just a little trivia.
    Cheers Mike

  11. Mike, it’s Christopher from Hamilton. I think Danno has always been an Ottawan but I could be wrong. Danno, has it always been Ottawa?

  12. I’ve been in Ottawa all the time with the exception of a few years in Oshawa outside Toronto.
    All I know is years ago there are plenty of really smart people who couldn’t cut it in school because the main thing the teachers focused on is getting kids to conform. Anyone who thought with his/her own head or dared to question authority was reprimanded and branded an outcast. I hope schools today have changed.

  13. Yup as Dennis wrote, I’m proudly from Hamilton too.

    Mike, I didn’t know that about W.H. Ballard or much about the East end in general. Although it wasn’t very far North of where I lived on the East Mountain, it was a long way down.

    I’ll return some trivia. The first Tim Horton’s location is on the same street as W.H. Ballard, just over 1 km down. Of course being in Hamilton that means there are 3 other locations that are closer.

  14. I’d have to say that in my entire school life I estimate I had about 100 teachers (give or take). Out of that number, maybe 5 or 6 really stood out as decent teachers. Inspiring teachers. The rest were fairly terrible to downright awful.

    I’ve seen teachers sleeping in class, teachers making racist comments to students, teachers being “too friendly” with female students (one female teacher even slept with some of her students!), I’ve seen cases of assault and tons of incidents of extreme humilating of students…with myself being one of the “lucky” victims.

    How some of these people kept their jobs is beyond me.

    What I hated was that when there were parent-teacher interviews, these same teachers would be as sweet as anything and naturally parents wouldn’t believe the kids that this teacher was anywhere near as bad as they were made out to be.

    I would LOVE to meet some of these teachers again. I would really let them have it.

  15. Dartth, about this teacher. I tried to email him but the address was no good and it bounced back. I wanted to tell him he may be getting honoured now but he shouldn’t forget when he was a violent teacher. Maybe at some point I’ll get in touch with him but I should hurrry because neither of us are getting any younger.

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