A few months ago I wrote about the tree-shaped mailbox stand my brother Joe Wayne built for our mother. When Mom passed away, the family sold her house. During the years since her death, we had no idea where the mailbox stand was. Then one day Amy Gardner saw a photo of the stand, complete with the name “Irene Thomas” still on the mailbox. She contacted my daughter, Tina, and Tina contacted her father (thinking they would get the stand for me for my birthday or maybe Christmas — all secret-like).

Terry called the fellow who had it and made arrangements to buy it. When Terry got back here with it, he had me come out to the truck and see his “find.” I was totally shocked and pleased. After sandblasting and painting, it is now being used to hold our daily mail.

The most recent surprise happened when Gary Lee of Hilltop Pizza called and said he purchased a couple dressers at Jerry’s (my brother) sale. When one of the drawers would not open, he tried to figure out why. The cause was one of my Christmas books hung up in there somewhere.

For 25 years or longer, I have written a Christmas book for my family. They generally have 100 pages, and are filled with stories and photos of weddings, deaths, graduations, new babies and whatever else I can come up with. I had given the book that Gary found to Jerry in 2005.

In connection to one of the Christmas booklet stories I am sharing today, I will tell about a news item I read recently. A little kindergartner was suspended from school because he kissed a female classmate. Sexual harassment, the article said. Really!

In the book, I featured a photo of Jimmy’s (another brother) fifth grade class, with Mrs. Howard as the teacher. They all had their hand over their heart, while saying the Pledge of Allegiance. Joyce Wood Highfill was in Jimmy’s class. Prior to writing an article about this group of youngsters, I called Joyce. She said Mrs. Howard was one of her favorite teachers. She apparently had visited many faraway locations and brought her traveling knowledge back to the classroom. That peaked Joyce’s interest in things from around the world.

Mrs. Howard was fairly strict, also. Joyce isn’t sure what led up to what happened that particular day, but she was afraid to ask Mrs. Howard to go to the restroom, which was in the basement. It was fairly spooky down there, so maybe that was the problem, or possibly Mrs. Howard was fed up to the gills with other children wanting out of class. Whatever it was, bashful, shy little Joyce waited too long and had an accident. Mrs. Howard very nicely took her aside and told her she could go home and change clothes. Joyce’s mother and father operated Wood’s Grocery on Main Street, so it wasn’t very far. Joyce added that she couldn’t go to the nurse’s station and get a change of clothes, like students can now.

The only spanking Joyce received in school was given by Mrs. Houk. Butch Morris sat behind her, and when Mrs. Houk stepped out of the room, Butch pulled Joyce’s pigtails. Joyce slapped him. Mrs. Houk made them sit on a bench out in the hall. She told them they were both going to get a spanking, and Joyce said she didn’t do anything wrong. “You slapped him back,” Mrs. Houk said.

The bushes to the west of the elementary building were remembered by Joyce. She said the boys chased the girls, they hid in those bushes, then the girls chased the boys. The boys giving the girls a kiss was the highlight of this little game.

The bush Joyce talked about had an area in the middle where we could hide. I don’t remember the chasing and kissing game she talked about, but I’m sure our class did that, too. I’m glad my memory has a built-in camera because things look entirely different after 50-plus years.

When my sister Carol Ann was 6 years old, she and three boys were late coming in from recess. “We didn’t hear the bell,” Carol Ann said. They were around on the north side of the grade school building, playing their own kissing game. The boys would shut their eyes and guess which one Carol Ann was going to kiss next (on the cheek). Miss Nichols, a little ol’ young teacher, gave each of them a spanking.          

Regarding being suspended from school for kissing a girl, several of my classmates would have been suspended because we played spin the bottle and post office. With spin the bottle, we sat in a circle, and the person who was going to do the kissing spun the bottle. Whomever the neck of the bottle pointed to, that is whom you kissed.

According to the Internet, post office is a kissing game played by boys and girls at parties. It has been referred to in popular culture since at least the 1880s. The way our game was played, if memory serves me correctly, the boys put their names on envelopes (pieces of paper). Then the girls took turns choosing an envelope out of the mailbox. Whatever name was on the envelope, that is who got kissed.

Times have changed. 

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