This is all leading up to the summation of Old Jules’ Unified Bullying Theory.
Hopefully this will be my last buildup segment before trying to summarize something I’d call a theory about bullying, supported by the interactions of animals here and childhood memories that included plenty on the subject.
My childhood friend, Keith, was reflecting on how he remembered the two of us as kids recently when we met in Fredericksburg. Fiddle-Footed Naggings and Songs of the Highway. This pretty well dated Keith’s first clear recollections of me to the sophomore year of high-school, though we’d actually been in classes together since the 4th grade. He remembered the two of us as being a couple of nerds, getting pushed around a lot.
What I’m riding there just about says anything needs saying. That kid I was at that stage of my life was no bully in the making.
The picture with my two sisters might be about the time I was getting chased home by Floren and his brothers. At that point there was nobody I was likely to bully. Anyone can see the kid needs chasing home and a few beatings on the way can’t do anything but help.
But by the time this picture was taken I was hanging out at the school cafe with the Lindsey kids, smoking, and everyone knowing who was tougher than whom else. In those days any kid who could ride bareback was probably in danger of doing some bullying, too. I’m guessing all those kids from Lindsey Grade School could ride bareback.
I was bareback because the horse was stolen, though the person taking the picture almost certainly didn’t know it.
I was keeping three hogs for an FFA project in one of the buildings in the background, though the place was otherwise abandoned. I kept the horse there a couple of weeks before things got too hot, then took it out to the dirt road between this place and the neighborhood I was living in and slapped it on the rump to run it off. But the owner and authorities had already decided it hadn’t just strayed. A while later that picture glued me to the missing horse.
Sometimes I still wonder how the family adults could have been so damned stupid in those days. Where the hell did they THINK I got that horse? On the other hand, a copy of the picture became a small piece of a lot more damning evidence of how I’d been spending my adolescent years. By the time I was caught it filled up a corner of the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office.
Somewhere between this picture and the one above it things went south. Coincidentally, I was attending Central Grade School when the picture was taken, where I considered everyone rich kids, which they weren’t. But two years in a row I had teachers famous for their bullying.
One, the fifth grade teacher, gave me a spanking in front of the class at least once every day that year. Me, and any other kids who admitted when they were asked the first day of classes whether their parents would give them a whipping at home if they were told they got one in school. I didn’t realize until a couple of decades later it was a ruse to find out which kids wouldn’t tell their parents what was happening.
I used to want to go back to the graveyard in that town and spit and puke on his grave until a lot later in life than you might guess.
That’s me on the right at the pinnacle of my hellion/bullying times. Even that snake and the baby rattlers we found got me into a peck of trouble. Within a couple of months of the time this picture was taken I was being held in the Roosevelt County Jail for a couple of weeks waiting for them to decide whether I needed to get the rest of my education at the State Boys Reformatory at Springer, New Mexico.
They decided to keep me around on juvenile probation instead. That ended the bullying completely. If I’d looked sideways at anyone, or let myself get provoked into a fight I’d have been in Springer in a heartbeat. It was open season on me for anyone who felt the urge to kick someone around, and there was no shortage of those who did.
Here’s a year later while I was working with Kurtiss and some other youngsters for Skeeter Jenkens. A Sobering View of Y2K
That fall would be the school year Keith almost certainly remembers. Just another nerd. A peaceful, inconspicuous nerd doing his best to stay out of reform school. Midway through the Junior year it was clear I had to get out of that town, and I did. Nobody at all was sorry to see me gone.
The next bullying post is going to pull all this together with the animal bullying into Old Jules Unified Bullying Theory.