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That Time Doris Day Hit the Fan

Or did she?

By Marie WilsonPublished 8 months ago Updated 8 months ago 3 min read
Top Story - October 2023
Day in "Pillow Talk"

My older brother let me in on secret joke when I was eight years old. It was a visual bit of comedy, all its humorous genius revealed with paper and pencil. The day after he showed this joke to me I demonstrated it for the kids in my grade three class while the teacher was out of the room. I had the best venue: the blackboard.

“Four men,” I announced, and drew four parallel vertical lines on the board with a piece of white chalk.

“Saw a snake.” I drew an S in front of the four lines.

“Crossed a bridge.” I drew a horizontal line between the first two vertical lines, making an H.

“Started to rain.” I put a dot above the third vertical line.

Can you see where this is going? The kids in my class couldn't and the anticipation was palpable. I couldn't wait to reveal the mystery of the lines.

“Put up an umbrella!” I topped the fourth vertical line with a horizontal line to make a T.

In great big letters on an elementary school blackboard in the suburbs of Vancouver in 1962. SHIT. We were barely out of the 50s. "Catcher in the Rye" had been banned just two years prior for, among other reasons, using "vulgar language”.

The kids laughed uproariously. So did I.

Now, in my house, swearing did not happen, so I didn’t really know any curse words. My parents told us that “stupid” and “shut up” were swear words, so we didn’t say them.

I understood that the appeal of this blackboard joke was that “shit” was a forbidden word. But I didn’t know how bad it really was - obviously. I wouldn’t have left it up there on the board if I had. I wasn’t the kind of kid who wanted to aggravate authority figures.

Triumphant that I had the class in stitches I sat down at my desk.

And so, if you were the oh-so-perfect Miss Escott in her pastel-pink twin set and knee-length pencil skirt, engagement ring sparkling demurely on your left hand, you’d have walked into this room full of sweet little angels, only to find - and recoil from - this unholy desecration of your pure virginal blackboard.

You would gasp. And Miss Escott did. It must have seemed to her as if a demon child existed among her angels. The shock at such obscenity glaring out from beneath the portrait of the Queen!

“Who did this?” she demanded.

I confessed and was sent out into the hall to be dealt with later. When she arrived before me, tight-lipped and mortified, she delivered stern and cold words, then marched me down to the office. On the way, we stopped to pick up the grade one teacher.

The grade one teacher was Doris Day.

Okay, not really. But to my eight-year-old eyes that’s who she was and I loved her like I loved the movie star. Cotton candy hair, natty scarf and ready smile. Only now those ready red lips frowned as Miss Escott told her of my crime. The three of us trooped down the hallway to the office.

In a small dim room they told me to sit down. Miss Escott opened drawers and got apparatus out while Doris Day glared at me. “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?” she said.

I didn’t understand the question. We didn’t practice shame in my household, and at age eight I was not familiar with the concept nor the word. “No,” I said, hoping it was the right answer. This made Doris Day’s eyes blaze and her face turn red.

“Let me,” she said, turning to take a big leather strap from Miss Escott. “Hold your hand out,” she commanded.

I did. Miss Escott held a clipboard over my wrist. I learned later that this was to prevent the possibility of breaking a tiny wrist. Doris raised the strap up into the air then brought it down hard onto my hand. She repeated this action three times. I cried.

By Bethany Fidanzo on Unsplash

I don't know which hurt more, the sting of the strap or my crushed heart now that the lovely Misses Day and Escott were beating me up. The latter got married later that year and became Mrs. Bratland, a more suitable-sounding name for the woman who held the clipboard. I don't know what became of the fake and cruel Doris, but in time I accepted the real Day back into my life via the Friday night movies on TV.

I'm a fan. My favourite DD flick? Maybe "Teacher's Pet"...

*

humanity

About the Creator

Marie Wilson

Harper Collins published my novel "The Gorgeous Girls". My feature film screenplay "Sideshow Bandit" has won several awards at film festivals. I have a new feature film screenplay called "A Girl Like I" and it's looking for a producer.

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Comments (24)

  • Angie the Archivist 📚🪶4 months ago

    You poor little petal! In a similar era, my brother in law (a quiet sweet kid) told his bully of a teacher to shut up. She asked him what he said, so he obediently repeated what he’d said… this cycle was repeated a few more times as she got more & more irate! Those were the days!😵‍💫

  • Ah, the innocence of childhood so horribly misunderstood!

  • Rachel Deeming6 months ago

    Wicked Doris! I bet that shook your world on so many levels: the joy of making your class laugh; the uncertainty of what you had done wrong; the reaction from someone you adored to what you honestly declared; the extremely harsh punishment administered as a result. Whatever happened to having a good sit down and talking about it? Made me mad to read but loved the pictures of the word emerging, which made me laugh.

  • very good

  • Profound facts ♥️💯📝✌️

  • Andrea Corwin 8 months ago

    Oh, I want to crack those teachers! Bratland perhaps had karma returned by offspring. Nice story!

  • Babs Iverson8 months ago

    From start to finish, you had me enthralled in your story!!! It's shameful what teachers did back then!!! Left some love!!!❤️❤️💕

  • Test8 months ago

    Congratulations on achieving top story status!

  • Leslie Writes8 months ago

    Abhorrent behavior by those teachers. THEY should be ashamed. Captivating story!

  • Test8 months ago

    Brilliantly written. Humourous and awful at the same time. How could any teachers do this regarless or whether they were 'allowed' to or not! Super congratulations on Top Story!

  • This is very relatable how a stunt perceived by youthful innocence as funny, witty and clever, perhaps due to its devious nature, is perceived by adults as evil. Marie, you masterfully conveyed this tale. Well done, and Congratulations on the TS!

  • Phil Flannery8 months ago

    That was cute. I grew up in the times of corporal punishment and by the end of high school, I was immune. Our household may have been a little rougher than yours, so i wasn't so surprised the first time it happened. Great story.

  • Naomi Gold8 months ago

    It’s astounding what public schools get away with. I mean, they were started to train children to be productive and mindless worker bees. That should alarm parents. But parents went through that programming themselves, so they just want the free babysitter public schools are so they can pay their bills. I remember my mom signing a permission slip for me to be paddled at school. It never happened, but WTF. It’d be illegal to ever do that to an adult at work or home, no matter what they did. How can we treat the most vulnerable and defenseless humans that way and justify it? Don’t even get me started on the psychological warfare happening in the schools right now. I’m so glad that experience didn’t ruin Doris Day for you. If only that teacher weren’t ugly on the inside. ‘Cause Doris was lovely. Congrats on your Top Story. 🥂

  • What a terrible way to punish a child! I loved how you told the story and good for you for how you were raised in your family!

  • A. Lenae8 months ago

    The quippy, nostalgic, delightfully fleshed-out voice of this piece is so endearing. You breathe a fresh new gust of wind into the Vocal universe with this! I love your descriptions, and I love the placement and use of your pictures (usually I'm not a huge fan of the visual additions, but these are like a chef's kiss over a perfect meal). Such a great story, thanks for sharing! And so glad Doris Day still found a way back into your heart :)

  • Margaret Brennan8 months ago

    Congratulations on top story. This brings back memories of my childhood. Please read my story, The Day The Stars Fell.

  • Antonella Rustica8 months ago

    Congratulations on your Top Story

  • Heather Lunsford8 months ago

    All of the schools I went to made use of physical punishment. I was a very naughty kid. I quickly worked out the line of transgression that got you a swat. I lived on that line and very carefully avoided crossing it. Sorry you lost a bit of your innocence that day.

  • Dana Crandell8 months ago

    Oh, I can so relate to mulling over the response, then deciding on the wrong one. I have a couple of stories about that, too. A very deserving Top Story. Congratulations!

  • Jazzy 8 months ago

    I loved that you were so proud to make the students laugh! But I'm sad that you were beaten up by the teachers, ugh! Congrats on top story! 🌟

  • Kendall Defoe 8 months ago

    Not a fan, but your story gave me deja vu and I appreciate you sharing this. And I think I have a plan for my next class... 😉

  • Alex H Mittelman 8 months ago

    Anyone who can punish a child at all for a word they barley understand let alone physically abuse a child (I don't care what year it is) is scum of the earth! Sorry that happened to you and I hope they burn for what they did!

  • Rachel Robbins8 months ago

    Heartbreaking. Also a massive Doris Day fan. I’ve named cat after her.

Marie WilsonWritten by Marie Wilson

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