“How To Get A Mule’s Attention”

to get a mule’s eye

like that of a lazy press

first you slap it down*


  • (In honor of my junior high principal, Hugh Carleton, who when I was enrolled faced a court case concerning the canoe paddle he kept on display behind his frigate-sized oaken desk – it had strategic two-inch diameter holes drilled along its blade.  When my father came home off a US Navy cruise in the last stages of his career as a flying navigator/bombadier he read of Mr. Carleton’s predicament: and he took me and my brother to see him one day after school. Dad introduced us: me, he knew full well but usually I was entertained by vice principal Teddy Barker, also a man who spared not the rod: my transgressions, however earned me no “licks.”  Winning an argument over grammar and rhetoric with Mrs. Samuel, my seventh-grade – and homeroom – science teacher, and reading a college geography text in – yep – geography – or maybe it was history – class.  My older brother Glenn was blank – on both gentlemen’s slate of sinners.  Dad said: if either of these two – the real trouble will come with Son Number Three who will be along shortly – do not touch either of them.  Send them home with notes explaining what they did and I will see to their correction.  IF they can come back to school, that will never happen again,” he promised.  He required but one “A” from any of us: deportment! Imagine if he had extended tha requirement to the subjects as well.  I learned how not to get caught: Glenn just did ALL the problems/questions on both pages of his homework/  Storm – the last of us – did neither.  And I can only recall his playing with mom like his older brothers also did – holding her head off with one arm and catching the kiddie shower-hose with the other.  If you could get her laughing the whipping was forgotten.  Fly Swatters? Not a problem.  At 12 both Glenn and I topped her by a head.  Dad bought mom three graduated lodge cast iron skillets and said to her: keep them all on the range: fill one with hot grease to use on Storm.  That’s why MY mother did for me.  And I was hard-pressed not to blurt: “Yeah, mom!  Look how THAT turned out!”)

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