dad’s education as he saw it

Today is Father’s Day in the States. My dad says the last time he checked, every day was father’s day. He remembers when Hallmark created this fake holiday to sell more cards and thought it was just as useless now as it was then.

I agree with him on the commercial aspect but I do like to celebrate him. Sure, he’s my dad every day but I like dedicating one day per year to make sure he knows I appreciate him.

It would require much more than one post for me to identify all the things that make him so special to me. If I could point to any one thing, it would be that he took time for me. He would get down on the floor to play dolls with me. He patiently taught me how to count from one to ten and how to recite the alphabet. He did this even though he was exhausted after spending long, grueling hours in the factory.

abc books chalk chalkboard
Photo by Pixabay on

I especially liked hearing his stories about growing up in the Appalachian Mountains in eastern Kentucky. They were often irreverent and absurd. I thought I’d share a few things I remember him saying about school.

He thought his 4th grade teacher was “mean as a snake” and was “ancient when granny had her in school.”

“They [teachers and administrators] didn’t like me much ’cause I was the only one in 4th grade with a full beard.”

At one point, a teacher had enough of him not doing his schoolwork and told him that if he didn’t turn in the report that was due the following day, she was going to spank him in front of the class.

He went home and found an old pair of knee pads belonging to his father, then spent the evening sewing them into the seat of his pants. When he didn’t turn in a report, his teacher told him to bend over her desk at the front of the room.

Dad fake-howled each time the thick wooden board smacked his padded bottom. To make matters worse, the class erupted in laughter with each thwack. He had been making exaggerated faces of torture like a cartoon character. She reached into the back of his pants and felt the sewn-in padding. In disgust, she told him to go to the boy’s room, remove the padding, then return for a real spanking.

So what did you do? I asked him.

“I might be dumb but I ain’t crazy. I walked out the class, past the principal’s office, and went home.”

“I quit school in 6th grade. I was 20 so I figured I couldn’t teach ’em anymore.”

“What did I need to go to school for? You don’t need to read Shakespeare to die in a coal mine.”

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