School will be starting soon and as I see the kids shopping for school clothes and supplies, my mind always flashes back to the days when I was in school. School has certainly changed over the years. Our local Jr. High has gone totally paperless with everything, EVERYTHING being done on a tablet! I can’t even comprehend that. I wonder what schools smell like without the smells of books, paper and lead pencils. 

Although schools have changed dramatically since I was a kid, they changed just as dramatically from the time my Grandma Hazel (Mickelsen) Ganus attended school and when I was in school. In her life story, she inserted the picture below of her school, a little log school in Sanford, Colorado. It is marked, although she ran out of room for some of the names and the picture covered portions of other names, so I did my best at transcribing what she wrote. (If you know these people, please help me out.) 
Sanford Colorado, Hazel Mickelsen, Glen Hostetter, school, one room, log cabin, paddle

B.R. Riley Jones, Ed Canty, Glen Hostetter, Walter Cunningham
FR. Earl Jensen, Orson Lloyd, Lyle Jones, Weird Smith, Harry Thomas Bertie Mor (?rest of word covered)

B.R. Ada B. Morgan, Eva Hunt, Zelphia Holman, Amy Hutchins, Nina B. Johnson, Mae W. ?, Bessie ? 
 F.R. Nina Z. Johnson, Rozina Brot?, Hazel Mickelsen, Sarah Mayfield 
I am lucky that both sides of my family are represented in this picture. My Grandpa Glen Hostetter is with the boys and my Grandma Hazel Mickelsen Ganus with the girls. Grandpa Hostetter was four years older than my Grandma Ganus, so I am assuming this is the entire school in the picture, which isn’t too hard to believe since Sanford currently has a population around 860. I hope this log school house had windows on at least one of the sides!

Grandma shared a variety of different memories about school, but one thing she said caught my attention. Speaking of a particular teacher she said,

“I remember her bringing a switch to school every day as some of the boys were so mean and ornery. That was the way she tried to keep them in tune.” 

She talked about being in a one room log school but later went to a finishing school that was a red brick building and it had stairs. She said,

“I remember how we kids would love to slide down the banisters on the stairway. The teachers would get so disgusted with us. The boys, of course, were the ornery ones.” 

Although paddles are no longer used in the classroom, I remember when teachers used them to keep order.  I also remember all too clearly the day I got paddled. 

I was always a very obedient student and tried very hard to do what was asked of me. But one day in sixth grade at Midway Elementary, in the small town of Fellows, California, our teacher Mr. Bozarth had had it with the entire class and told everyone to sit down and be quiet and not to say another word. Then he added, the next person to get up would get paddled. 

I heard him talking, but I guess I was in my own little world because he no more finished saying that than I realized my pencil needed to be sharpened, so I jumped up and headed towards the pencil sharpener. The class gasped and I froze, suddenly realizing with horror what I had just done. I turned and looked at Mr. Bozarth who was looking directly at me and had an expression mixed with shock and that I-can’t-believe-YOU-just-did-that look. I was a good student and he knew it, but he had said he would paddle the next person who got up and so he was stuck.

Bozarth, Midway, Fellows California, Genealogy, Ancestry, family history
He motioned for the door, grabbed his paddle and I dutifully followed him out. He headed down the outside hallway and then took off across the school playground. My heart was pounding, I was fighting back tears and I wondered where in the world he was taking me? A few classes were out on the playground and they stopped and watched as I followed Mr. Bozarth to the gym.

When we got to the gym, he opened the door to the woman PE teacher’s office and explained the situation and asked her to witness my paddling. I remember her looking at me with a look of surprise and pity. I had never needed to be punished in school before, let alone paddled. 

Mr. Bozarth had a handmade wooden shellacked paddle with a round hole towards the end of the paddle so that it really stung when he smacked your behind. I had heard about that paddle from the boys and I couldn’t believe I was about to experience it. 

He directed me to bend over, which I obediently did. He raised the paddle back over his head and I held my breath as he swung the paddle down, but the paddle barely touched my back side, in fact for a minute, I wasn’t sure it even had. I paused and wondered if that was all? Surely not!

I remember I looked up at him to see if that was really all he was going to do and he told me to be sure and pay attention the next time he told us not to get out of our seats. I felt a huge sense of relief. He headed to the door and opened it to find the kids who had been out on the playground gathered outside the door trying to listen. I was so embarrassed to walk out of that room, once again following Mr. Bozarth and his paddle, but this time, we headed back to the waiting class. 

I don’t think I will ever forget that day. Just as Grandma Ganus had observed when she was in school, it was generally the boys who got the paddling in my school and after that, I made sure it stayed that way, even if I had to write with a very dull pencil.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved
Please follow and like us:

11 thoughts on “School then and now

  1. I don't know whether to laugh at the most unlikely child getting paddled or cry at the very thought that we accepted such punishment as good and proper. My first teaching job was in a school that still practiced corporal punishment but it was administered by the assistant principal, in this case a woman who was former military. I had a student that was hard to deal with and I guess I sent him one too many times to the office. I was called in to witness the paddling. I swore I would let him do whatever he wanted after that rather than send him to the office.

  2. What a story! Can you even imagine what would happen if Mr. Bozarth tried to do that today? YIKES!

    I love that your grandmother told the story of her school days but even more than that, SHE LABELED THE PHOTO! Nice work, Grandma!

  3. I was a young teacher in CA in 1978 when CA still allowed use of corporal punishment and I remember the paddle you describe. It was probably standard issue to the assistant principals. I witnessed one of my students on its receiving end one time. I have to admit that, although it was something the parents should have been doing, that kid was spoiled rotten and the parents didn't parent. I also have to admit it changed his behavior for the better in the classroom after that incident. However, I am glad you escaped that fate. Great story.

  4. I went back and read it again, but I don't see the name of the school and where it was located. Did you share it? It might be helpful for others looking.

    As far as the story… wow! I have a story about the day I almost got paddled. I was usually teacher's pet and was a very obedient child like you were. In junior high, I guess my hormones got out of wack. I would get the giggles and couldn't stop. One day, I had the giggles during class. My history teacher told me that if I didn't stop, he'd spank me. It got to the point he told me he was going to take me out in the hall. Some of the boys stood up for me and told him he better not. I don't know why it worked, but it did. Maybe I just shut up at that point. But, I'm thankful I didn't have to get that awful paddle!

    I remember hearing kids, usually boys, get paddled and it was a horrible sound. Our teachers just stepped in the hallway so the entire class could hear. I'm glad those days are behind us!

  5. Dana I mentioned the name of the school and where it was located two paragraphs above the picture of the pencils. It was Midway Elementary in a very small town, Midway, California.

    Sounds like you came very close to getting paddled that day. It's so funny how the harder we try not to giggle, the more we do.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top