“Me and Old Smokey” by Doug Fincher

October 8, 2018 - I got my first (and only) school paddling in 1947 when I was a freshman at the Center, Texas High School. When Mrs. Menefee asked us to raise our hands if we had done our homework, everyone raised a hand… except me… and Frank Bryan Cooper. And when she told us to “go to the office,” we both knew we were about to face “Old Smokey,” Mr. Malone’s paddle.

Frank Bryan was so used to getting paddled that he joked and laughed on our way to the office. When we were told we’d get “five licks” each, Frank Bryan calmly replied, “No problem… just but give me mine fast.” But after two blistering licks, he hollered, “Let me cool… let me cool!” And after a short cooling off and three more licks, he returned to class. “Henry, if I gave you only two licks… will you promise you won’t tell Frank Bryan?” Mr. Malone asked. My promise of “Yes Sir” was both quick… and sincere.

What happened that day was over 65 years ago, but I remember it well. I even wound up being top student in that English class. I’ve always wondered what the real reason was for my surprising success. Was it me… was it Old Smokey...

... or was it both?