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The Madera Tribune

When teachers had weapons in class

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webmaster | 02/01/13

You already may have noticed that our legislators are tinkering with bills that would encourage teachers to take guns to school and teach them how to use the weapons properly. (Presumably that would not include restroom patrol, but who knows?

Many teachers will tell you that in restrooms is where they’d feel safer with guns.) Maybe guns aren’t necessary, though. A lot of us remember that many teachers had weapons in their classrooms. Only the weapons weren’t guns, but paddles.

Yes, before the liberals and underemployed lawyers arrived on the scene, teachers and principals enforced discipline by applying a few well-placed whacks with paddles.

I remember one such teacher, Mr. Bangerter, who had a paddle that was regarded by his 8th-grade students (yours truly included) as the equivalent of an AK-47. He had made it with the help of a shop teacher, Mr. Brent, who had a paddle on his wall.

Old Man Bangerter’s paddle (we called him Old Man Bangerter because he was at least 30) was made of 3/4-inch plywood. It was about 14 inches long, cut out of the plywood in traditional paddle shape. Then, using a drill press, he cut neat rows of half-inch holes in the paddle blade, then wrapped the handle with leather. It was painted blood red.

During the first class of the year, he took the paddle from its hook on the wall and swung it back and forth, explaining that the holes were to enable it move faster and hurt more.

“Behave yourselves,” he said, “and you’ll never have to worry about this.”

I don’t recall his ever having to use the paddle. Its presence was sufficient deterrent.

What gunman would be stupid enough to enter a school where he’d know he’d likely have the stuffing paddled out of him by a bunch of angry teachers? I know I wouldn’t, especially if Old Man Bangerter was on the faculty.


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