Stodghill Says So

An opinionated posting on a variety of subjects by a former newspaper reporter and columnist whose daily column was named best in Indiana by UPI. The Blog title is that used in his high school sports predictions for the Muncie Evening Press.

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Location: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, United States

At the age of 18 I was a 4th Infantry Division rifleman in the invasion of Normandy, then later was called back for the Korean War. Put in a couple of years as a Pinkerton detective. Much of my life was spent as a newspaper reporter, sports writer and daily columnist. Published three books on high school sports in Ohio and Indiana. I write mystery fiction for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and others. Three books, Normandy 1944 - A Young Rifleman's War, The Hoosier Hot Shots, and From Devout Catholic to Communist Agitator are now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. So are four collections of short mysteries: Jack Eddy Stories Volumes 1 and 2, Midland Murders, and The Rough Old Stuff From Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Little Discipline Never Hurts

Disciplining kids seems to be constantly in the news. It appears the majority of Americans feel that making a kid do something is a capital offense and giving him or her a few whacks on the butt is even worse. After all, the little darlings have their rights. Actually they don't. At least they didn't in the distant past. Somehow the kids turned out pretty good.
That "rights" talk always reminds me of my second or third day in the Army. A couple of hundred of us were in an auditorium and a hawk-faced officer swaggered out onto the stage and said, "The first thing you need to know about the Army is we can't make you do a thing."
After allowing a couple of minutes for that surprising news to soak in he continued, "That's right, we can't make you do a thing - but we sure as hell can make you wish you had."
A couple of years earlier when I was a sophomore in high school my algebra teacher was Earl Loucks, the football coach. One look at him and you knew he was not a man to mess with. He had closely cropped blond hair, a neck only a couple of inches long and a body the size of an oil drum. That body was all muscle. Loucks was from Martins Ferry, a hard-bitten river town across the Ohio from Wheeling. If a Ferry kid had any hope of reaching adulthood he had to be tough.
I never caught on to algebra, a trait I shared with Loucks. One day he told me I was the most stupid kid to ever come down the pike and that I had no chance whatsoever of passing the course. However, he said, he would give me a passing grade if I came in half an hour early every day and worked problems on the blackboard. I did so, of course.
Loucks worked a problem on that same blackboard one morning and a girl with more nerve than sense said, "But Mr. Loucks, that isn't the right answer."
You could see the red appear just above his collar and work its way up that short neck until his face was fiery. "I wasn't trying to get the right answer," he shouted, "I was showing you how to do it."
Then there was the morning a lanky kid I knew cast sanity aside and mouthed off. Loucks never said a word, just walked over and opened the door to the hallway and then positioned himself in front of the row where the kid was seated, lowered his head and charged like a bull. He hauled the kid out of his seat by grabbing the front of his shirt and then for a few seconds held him at arms length with his feet dangling above the floor. Still gripping him that way, Loucks walked to where the kid was lined up with the open door, then gave him a mighty heave. We could hear him crash against the metal lockers on the other side of the hall. After that came a series of pauses and then crashes all the way to the principal's office.
All the while you could have heard the proverbial pin drop in that classroom. A couple of minutes later Loucks returned, stood looking us over while he brushed his hands together the way a person does after finishing a job. Finally he said, "Anybody else got something to say?"
From that day forward the lanky kid was well behaved not only in algebra class but a couple of others I shared with him. In later years I sometimes saw him on the street and we'd stop and talk for a minute or two. By then he had a good job at a rubber company, was married and had a couple of kids of his own. He had learned more, he'd say with a smile, from that episode with Loucks than from anything else in his life.
Had it happened today the bleeding hearts would have had Loucks fired and in criminal court. The kid probably would have drifted along with a smirk on his face and a toke hanging from the corner of his mouth. Too bad, but that's the way it is in a country that somehow got off course along the way and now is careening down the wrong road.


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