On TV there was Gorgeous George, Sundown Sunny, Lights Out Lefty and several other characters that we pretended to be. We rolled and tumbled on the grass and nobody got hurt unless an occasional ill-aimed punch was thrown, which resulted in a warning from the teacher: "No fighting, no hitting, or we will stop this wrestling."
Through it all we developed a pecking order. Everyone knew who they could handle; everyone knew who could handle them. I suppose that is why, when a new kid came to our school, there had to be a couple of matches to see just where the guy fit in.
This day and age our actions would probably be considered bullying, but then it was just a way of life. There was this older guy in our school named Milford Cox. Nobody but nobody messed with Milford. It was like he was the champ and there were no challengers.
In our fifth grade class we had Jerry Allen. We could not take him down so he was crowned fifth grade champ. He was sort of Robin Hood and we were his Merry Men.
We were smart enough not to challenge the older boys. Do you see how this works in a 10-year old mind? Some things are to be challenged, and some things are better left alone. Adults could learn a lot by simply watching kids play.
Then there was the day that Dave Beck came to Dairyland.
Jerry said that we had to call him out. We had to wrestle him to see just how he fit into his mix of followers. Oops, I meant to say Merry Men. Since I had assumed the position of Little John, I should be the challenger. Dave was a little guy. I was sure that I could handle him. So the guys told him, next recess, there is going to be this match in the park.
Dave came to the park to meet the challenge, but I do not think he understood the wrestling rules. We were wrestlers not boxers. When we squared off, he took this stance like Rocky Marciano or Floyd Patterson. I reached out to grab his arm and slip a Full Nelson on him and he popped me in the nose. I then reached for leg to knock him off his feet and go for my famous scissor lock. That's when he hit me with a furry of punches, the likes of which I had never seen. With a bloody lip and a little blood from my nose, I knew that I didn't need any more of Dave Beck. His next challenger would have to be Jerry Allen.
I don't remember how the rest of the matches went, but in the end we all became lifelong friends.
A short time later, a couple of kids from Arkansas checked into our class. Their names were Farrell and J.T. Ward. They were big guys. Considering what I learned from Dave Beck I saw no reason to challenge them to a wrestling match. The Ward brothers had an older brother in the eighth grade that drove his car to school.
That's right, he drove his car to Dairyland School when he was in eighth grade.
Dave Beck and the Ward brothers were at Dairyland for a short time and they left a void when they left us. That void was filled when a skinny cowboy by the name of Ronnie Goodrich. That's when the Goodrich era began.
Mrs. Weise was our fourth and fifth grade teacher. She was a little lady. Most of us were as tall as her by the end of our fifth grade year. But her true stature couldn't measured in inches. She demanded respect from students, and she got it. It was called discipline.
The sixth grade year, our teacher was Mr. James Knadler. Having a male teacher took some of the spunk out of the boys. He was a good teacher. After one year he moved on to CUHS and was counselor for many years.
That discipline thing all fell apart in the seventh grade. We got a new teacher. She was fresh out of college. (I will never forget her name, but see no reason to disclose it.)
She made the mistake of letting the boys know that they could push her to tears. So we knew she was not a disciplinarian. So frustrated, that occasionally she left the room to get reinforcement from Mr. Tatom, the principal, with a paddle. He was known to use the paddle as needed.
Tatom's office had a lot of glass windows, and when he used the paddle, someone always saw it. Within minutes the word spread and everybody in the class knew before the victim returned. The paddle wasn't so much a deterrent, but if you went back to your classroom with a tear in your eye the humiliation was pretty bad.
We had a rowdy bunch, led by Jerry Allen and cowboy Ronnie Goodrich. A group of followers including myself, Glen Ray, Larry Bryant, Lonnie Allen, Rusty Lee and J.T.Fuller. For some reason, we got a thrill out of driving this poor teacher over the edge.
Tatom would come in, straighten out the mess, and remind us about that paddle hanging on the wall in his office. He would leave and chaos soon resumed. This went on for awhile and then the hammer came down. When we came back from Thanksgiving, our teacher did not return. We were soon introduced to Mrs. Helen Knittle. Jerry Allen got promoted to the eighth grade, Mr. Tatom's class. We asked Mr. Tatom how Jerry got his promotion. Tatom said that he really liked Jerry and wanted him close by, so he could talk to him more often. For the rest of that year discipline was not a problem!