Vandalism

When I was an elementary principal in the late 1950’s I worked with Mae Bess Price, a second grade teacher. Miss Mae Bess was a tall matronly person who spoke slowly in typically southern manner. She was extremely aware of diction and sometimes corrected my pronunciation of words. She loved her students and her job, and she frequently expressed amusement at the liveliness of her second graders.

This is a favorite story that she told me about a little boy in her room. Several times each day she had to take her students to the restroom. The boys’ restroom was on the opposite end of the building from the girls’. She would appoint monitors for each group and stand in the hall, halfway between the restrooms, to maintain orderly discipline. One day one of the boys came running back to Miss Mae Bess urging her to come quickly. A boy was going to yank the paper dispenser from the wall. Miss Mae Bess hurriedly entered the boys’ restroom. There was a small boy standing in front of the dispenser.

“What do you think you’re doing?” asked Miss Mae Bess.

“Nothing,” answered the frightened boy, “ I was just reading the directions on the paper dispenser. It says ‘Pull down and tear up’.”