My son goes to an elementary school that’s more than a hundred years old. There was an open house this week, and I was helping at a table of memorabilia. We had Parent-Teacher Association notes from 1916, class photos from the 1940s, and — most popular with our visitors — a principal’s record of punishments, displayed alongside the strap.
Visitors found names in the punishment book of someone who’d gone to prison, someone who’d become head of maintenance at the Vancouver School Board (in the book for “repeated misbehaviour”), and a lot of little boys who couldn’t sit still. Some seniors remembered very clearly what it felt like to get the strap!
Here are a few other scenes my fellow volunteers and I witnessed…
One man, dressed in a suit and tie, came along and looked at the punishment book. “I’m on this page four times, and I was only nine,” he said.
A few minutes later, a group of three men looked at the same page. “There’s Johnny,” one of them said. “Most likely to become a criminal.”
The suit-and-tie man wandered back over. The group of three looked up.
“JOHNNY!” they said.
Eleanor and Daphne
Eleanor was signing in at the guest book when she noticed the name above hers.
“I know Daphne,” she said. “We were in school at the same time. Is she still here?”
The volunteer looked around the room and spotted Daphne.
“Daphne!” the first woman called. “It’s Eleanor!”
And they had their own mini-reunion in front of the guest book.
A older woman wandered by and glanced at the principal’s punishment records.
“Are you in there?” we asked.
“No, not me,” she said.
A few minutes later, she was back. This time, she was with a middle-aged woman who was scanning the pages carefully.
“This is my daughter,” the older woman said. “She refuses to believe me.”