By Norris Chambers

             Clifton and I were freshmen – our first year upstairs! It only took 11 grades back in the thirties to graduate. I guess we were better learners because I understand it now takes thirteen years, counting kindergarten, to finish. I’ve even heard of a “pre-kindergarten” in some areas! If that trend continues and the education includes pre-college, college and special schooling, a lifetime might be spent in education with no time left for a career.

            Most of our high school students dressed about the same way they did in the lower grades, just simple garments kept as clean as possible. This explains why Clifton and I were so shocked to see a new class member sitting in one of the front seats clothed in high-class go-to-meeting clothes. It was strictly church or funeral attire!

            There were a few whispered comments about the clothes. Clifton and I hadn’t formed an opinion. We listened to some of the older boys who were already in high school and some of them thought that the newcomer was trying to make an impression that he might not deserve.

           The room was called the study hall and the one-hour class periods were reserved for study and preparation for a class. The teacher that was keeping the study hall tried to keep everything quiet so those who wished could study. Sometimes, when a class room was not available a class was conducted on one side of the room. When the bell alerted the school for the first recess period of the day Clifton and I hurried to the front of the room and introduced ourselves to the newcomer. He told us he was Hardy Hollis and continued to speak in a soft, soothing voice. He said that he was glad to meet us and joined us on the trip down the stairs to the school yard.

            When we started to step off of the concrete porch Bryant Brown stepped in front of us. “I’d like to meet the new student,” he announced, bowing ridiculously low and smiling, “I would like her name and a few things about her before I ask her for a date!” It was obvious to Clifton and me and Hardy that he was calling our new student a sissy. Being called a sissy was one of the lowest orders of insults. It could be settled in one of three ways: the insulted person could ignore it, start calling the bully similar names or by deciding to fight and attempting to catch the tormentor by surprise

            Hardy smiled and returned the bow. “I’m sorry,” he said, “My family would not let me date fools. My dad is a Vice President of Coaster Oil Company. We just moved here from Chicago!  I have always attended private schools because we believed that public schools had a bad odor. I know now where that odor comes from in this school. Please keep away from me!”

            Bryant was not anticipating this type of answer. He reacted in his normal manner; he brought a fist up toward Hardy’s chin, expecting to end the fight almost before it began,

            He was right about one thing, it ended the fight. Hardy grabbed the arm and twisted it. Bryant fell to the ground and grabbed his right arm with his left. “You broke my arm! You hurt me bad! He lay on the ground and continued to complain about his injured arm. A crowd began to gather around the area. Everyone wanted to see Bryant take care of the new-comer. Bryant was still on the ground. Some of the language he was using was unsuitable for public use. He struggled to his feet and muttered, “One arm is all I need to take care of a sissy!” He swung his left arm toward Hardy’s nose. The same defense worked again. A proper twist of the arm again brought the bully down and he lay on the ground looking up at Hardy.

            “Sir,” Hardy teased, “I’m sorry you have such weak arms. Perhaps a beginner’s class in Physical Education would help you. Does this school offer such training? I will be willing to help you. I have been in physical training since before kindergarten. You do have a gym, don’t you?”

            “What’s a gym?” was Bryant’s answer. “Poor lad,” Hardy spoke sympathetically. You have been raised in disgustingly primitive surroundings. I shall pray for your improvement.” Hardy then jumped off of the porch, grabbed Bryant gently and lifted him to his feet.

            As Bryant ran around the corner of the school building amid the laughing and jeering of the onlookers he heard Hardy remark, “You shouldn’t think about dating until your physical condition improves. Poor fellow!”

            I turned to Clifton and asked, “What do you think about that?” His answer was, “It certainly was a fun way for a bully to learn a lesson!”

            Hardy Harris was in our class that year and half of the next year. He was never challenged again and he continued to wear dressy clothes and befriend everyone! Bryant, the bully, was now a decent student. He had been de-bullied!