In School With the Posture Police

In my elementary school days, I went to a one room country schoolhouse where Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn would have felt at home. It’s an historical landmark now—you can Google it: Papoose Creek School. And yes, one couldn’t possibly give that name to a school these days.

Not actually Papoose Creek School--but a reasonable likeness.
Not actually Papoose Creek School–but a reasonable likeness.

Papoose Creek School was one modest room, not counting a cloak room where a boy could also put his fishing rod or .22 rifle or 20 gauge shotgun if he happened to bring them to school. Look, the namesake of the school—Papoose Creek—did have trout after all, and the woods across the road had rabbit and squirrels. What else was a kid to do after school but fish and hunt?

This was a school with one very stern disciplinarian of a teacher and 32 pupils, give or take, grades one through eight.

Mrs. Torkleson ruled the place with an extra thick hickory stick and she wasn’t shy about whacking any of us across the back or shoulders with it either. Hey, teacher, just try that in any American school today. You’d wind up in jail but only after making the front page of the New York Times. But she was effective. All of us were so quiet, so well-behaved, that most of the time you could hear a pin drop in that rustic little room and I mean that literally not figuratively.

Now that leads me to posture. Mrs. Torkleson had the temerity to actually shout out, “Class, feet flat on the floor! Hands on your desks! Sit up straight!” multiple times each school day. I must have heard her repeat that four or five times a day for five or six years. Not counting summer vacation, of course. But then she was known to make house calls on occasional hot August afternoons.

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