1928 - Alderson High School - 1968

 

The Slap That Was Heard Around The Worrell

Barry Worrell  - June 6, 2008

(Using my last name in place of the word "world", is not a typo. It's just me being clever.)

In May of 1951 my class had just finished the sixth grade. Going through six years of school at Alderson Elementary had given me some degree of security in knowing who I was and what I was doing in this world. After all, those six years were at the same school, but this graduation was something different. We were going up to the high school building, to run with the "big dogs" and that was a very uncomfortable feeling for me. That year as a seventh grader was horrible. Suddenly all that experience in elementary school was no longer there and I remember feeling totally helpless. I didn't know what I was doing and what's more, I was even afraid to ask. Later on, when I learned what the word paranoid meant, I realized I resembled that definition. As time went on most of that insecurity had disappeared and I was finally beginning to feel comfortable.

One of our classes was Social Studies and the class was held in the same room that H. Roger McVey taught Chemistry, and Woody Bower taught Biology. Our Social Studies teacher was Miss Hallie Jones, and she was an imposing figure. As students, most of us hadn't reached our full height and I recall Miss Jones was taller and bigger than we were. Most of the time I remember her being a very nice person. I saw her at my mother's beauty shop, around town, and at the Baptist Church at some youth meetings.

One of those meetings was a Halloween party which Miss Jones was the chaperone and it was held in the basement of the church. Miss Jones had an older sister who was there helping out. She had on a witches costume with a black handkerchief over her face that with the black pointed hat you could only see her eyes. A dance had just started and kids were picking partners. I ran over and said to Miss Jones' sister, "Come on you old hag, lets dance". I remember seeing her eyes peering at me thru that mask as we were dancing. Little did I know it was an omen to what would come later.

On a funnier note, Miss Hallie will probably be remembered by the fact of carrying a Christmas present around in the back window of her car for many years. Everyone would ask her about the present and she said she never got around to delivering it and it was now too late.

As I stated Miss Jones was a very nice person, but there was a time when I didn't think so. One day, just as we were entering the class room, students were taking their seats. As I entered the room, unknowing to me, my friend Davy Fisher had just pushed Jim Meadows' books on to the floor. Davy called to me and said, "Barry, sit here", and I did. Jim returned to his desk, in which I was now sitting, saw his books on the floor, grabbed me, lifting me out of the seat, and started to twist my arm. Miss Jones, observing this scene from her desk came over where we were and slapped my face. I'm standing there wondering, "Why is Jim twisting my arm?" " Why is Miss Jones slapping me in the face?" Needless to say I was surprised and felt as if the most unjust thing in the world had just happened to me. It wasn't till later that I sorted the whole thing out. Like me, Miss Jones did not see Davy push Jim's books on to the floor. She just saw the books on the floor and Jim twisting my arm, putting the oblivious conclusion together and came over and slapped me. I can only attribute it to frustration with having to putting up with kids.

I deliberately didn't speak to Miss Jones for a long time after that, however I got over it and we were cordial again. I don't think that day was ever discussed between us, and although I know what really happened, I'm not sure if she ever did.
 

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