Sept. 1 marked the beginning of classes for students in the Medford School District. Most of the other area schools have elected to begin school next week after Labor Day.

When a person says something to the effect of how things have changed, they might as well say instead, I'm getting old. OK, I'm getting old. I'm middle aged. As I reflect back to my early days in a two-room school, I realize that if what happened back then happened today, a number of teachers would either be fired, jailed or whatever. As for us students, we'd be branded anything from juvenile delinquents to reprobates.

I had a knack for somehow getting into trouble without even trying. A few incidents come to mind. I was in third grade and riding the bus to school. Fred was in the back seat and he had a squirt gun he was using on us younger kids. He had a reputation as a tough guy. I decided that if I said something funny maybe he'd stop, or at least cut back on the soaking he was giving us. I simply said, "I sure hope that it's only water." Fred lets out a laugh and says what else would it be?  P---?  That should have been the end of that. For some reason Cindy heard it differently. She told the teacher what happened. In school the teacher grabbed me by the arm and asked why I had said such a naughty word on the bus. I tried to explain that I hadn't. It did no good and I got to spend my recess indoors with my head on the desk.

In second grade, Patty had an accident and the teacher took her downstairs to clean her up. When she returned, she demanded to know who had laughed. No one had laughed. Finally Wayne points at me and says "Loren did." I did not. That didn't stop the teacher. She grabbed me by the arm and shook me and kept demanding to know why I had laughed. Once again my argument didn't cut it. I got the worst punishment possible. I was sent to spend the rest of the day in the (gulp) girls hallway. The laughs and snickers of the girls as they pointed at me and then grabbed their coats to go out to recess.

In first grade I guess I have to plead guilty to being the one who started what today would be a sex scandal. Keep in mind I was 6 years old. I noticed that Sheryl had colored underwear. I'd never heard of such a thing. All I had were white. My sister's were white as well. This led me to start checking to see if the other girls had different-colored underwear. Perhaps I had stumbled upon an important discovery. It didn't take long, and some of my boy buddies were lifting up the girls' dresses, too, to check on the color. This got back to our first-year teacher who declared the world was ending and we were all terrible, dirty-minded little boys. For what? For seeing how many different colors of underwear the girls had? We got a letter to take to our parents telling them they had to be at the school one night to discuss this horrible scandal. Wayne's parents got to start it off by coming during the day I recall our 12-1PM recess lasted until almost 3PM. When we came back in, the teacher blew up and told us we could tell our parents that the big meeting was off and they could all stay home. I suspect Wayne's parents explained that we're talking 6-year-old boys who don't know a thing. The teacher left after the first year and I don't know if she continued teaching or not.

Other things we did that wouldn't really cut it today include pretending the girls were our slaves and having them pull grass from the ditch and then building us boys a grass fort. We also wrapped jump ropes around their fronts and ran behind them pretending the girls were our old stallions and we were riding them. We also hauled gunny sacks of tall grass to school to build more forts after the slave girls had picked the ditches clean. We also hauled in sacks of old baler twine to tie to the fences that surrounded the school. Another highlight was the rainy day we discovered the old chemical toilet from the prior school building. We spent quite a bit of time scooping all the mud (or other stuff in all likelihood) out of the old toilet. Then the teacher found out and put a stop to that.

As I sit here in my brand new bright red underwear, I realize things have changed a lot. I suspect they will continue to change. Be careful and keep an eye out for children as we start another new school year.

Some of the most popular punishments included spending the recess with your head on your desk and standing on your tip toes with your nose in a circle on the chalkboard for an hour. I'm not sure if you could get away with the latter these days.