12/22 – Burnside Paddle Burn and the Spitting Middle Finger

We all went to Burnside school, which was about a half mile up from our apartment complex. It was an old building with huge windows in each of the classrooms. I started there in third grade and went through 6th so 4 years. Right after our 6th grade class left the school it closed. I’d like to say it was because they would never have an elementary graduating class as great as ours but if anything they closed it because we all just kept getting worse. Really it was because they were realigning the school districts and Burnside was the oldest school still operating and the town did not want to put any more money into it (Of course now it’s a huge and completely renovated police station). So much for not putting any more money into the building.


In third grade we had a music class and our teacher was Mrs. Santos. She used to have us sing all the time and I sat next to a girl named Felicia. She was a very giggly girl and funny as hell. Every time we sang “Jeremiah was a bullfrog” we would just laugh our faces off until we got yelled at or sent to the Principal’s office. I spent a lot of time at the Principal’s office in that school. My Mom became very familiar with the Principal and all of my teachers there. There was a rumor there that the Principal had a paddle and he used to put some kind of red burn gel on the paddle and spank you with it if you got out of line. In actuality the Principal was a very nice guy who got a bad rap.


In 4th grade we had a teacher named Mrs. Willys. She was a crazy old lady that would just absolutely lose her shit when she got mad – and I made that happen often. Both Brian (GI Joe) and Billy were in my class that year. We were all fooling around and got yelled at and the Mrs. Willys thought that Brian gave her the middle finger. She comes bolting over to Brian’s desk screaming at him through her teeth and spitting everywhere saying “you want to give me the middle finger well here” and she held up her middle finger right in his face! Then sends HIM to the office. All the kids in the class just sat there open mouthed and dumb founded. Brian’s Mom tried to get Mrs. Willys fired for that one but I think they ended up just moving Brian to another class and just separating us.


For recess we use to have free reign of the entire front lawn of the school. Some kids played on the jungle gym, some basketball, then there was the double dutch girls that just did double dutch jump rope every single day. The then was the Burn kids. We would play “Burn” on one of the brick walls where the blacktop was. The idea of burn was that you would throw the ball against the wall as hard as you could and one of the other kids ran up to grab it. If you didn’t catch it but it hit you somewhere (hand, leg, whatever) the you had to run up and touch the wall before they threw the ball. There were two ways to play this game – one you had to make it to the wall before you got pegged by the ball or two before the ball hit the wall. Either way if you got beat to the wall by the ball then you would get a letter. Once you got all four letters (BURN) you were out. We of course opted for the more dangerous version – and if you really wanted to get ballsy you played with a little blue racket ball instead of a tennis ball because those hurt way worse.  That style of playing quickly became outlawed, as did the blue racket balls. It was down to the tennis ball against the wall but every once in a while a kid or two still got pegged – by accident of course.


About Alton B. Etheridge III

My Last Years of Childhood is about my musings as I relive my childhood in words before I get too old to remember!
This entry was posted in Childhood, Confessions, Life, Memoir, Nostalgia and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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