Boy-oh-boy was I in trouble! A fellow student
told on me and I was reprimanded in front of the whole class. My sixth-grade
teacher questioned how breaking the "no chewing gum at school rule" had
anything to do with breaking The Guinness Book of Records?
Our teacher, Robert King, was 65 years old and enforced old school rules. So he
wasn't impressed that my friend Sharon Byers and I were making the world's
longest gum wrapper chain and needed gum chewers. Before our detainment, I
bought over 100 sticks of gum, took off the outer colored wrappers for our
chain, and sold each aluminum piece on the playground for a penny. I clearly
got away with my new business long enough to purchase a second batch of gum.
But I undeniably ended up with more gum than I could chew and Sharon ended up
making gum wrapper chain curtains for her bedroom.
My father, too, has a gum story from when he attended the same school in the
late 1930s. Mrs. Yoder caught him chewing a whole roll of bubble gum before he
chomped out all the flavor. She immediately sent him to the principal's office
where Mr. Snavely instructed dad to sign his name to a piece of paper and stick
his wad to it.
During the school's year-end awards assembly,
kids were called up to center stage and were teasingly pinned with their wad of
gum. Dad waited for his name to be called, but optimistically thought his wad
to be overlooked as Mr. Snavely began his introduction about an honored student
that he wanted to introduce to the school.
Dad's hopes soon vanished when he heard how that
honored student just won the award for the largest wad of gum to ever be chewed
at Woodbury Joint School. Bobby Guyer then took his place to be pinned with his
huge wad of gum.
My granddaddy, Wineland Guyer, was never without a pack of Wrigley's in his
pocket, so I can only imagine him getting caught with gum at school too.
Granddaddy died 36 years ago when I was only nineteen. He was a great
conversationalist and story teller, so it's a bit disappointing that I have
never heard his version of the following legendary story about when he went to
Being the eldest of eight children, he graduated from high school before the
new Woodbury Joint School was built in 1930. In his earlier years, he attended
Mt Joy, the small one room schoolhouse which is still beautifully maintained
and kept on the Herman Ritchey farm not far from Woodbury.
According to Granddaddy's brother Jake Guyer, who just recently passed away at
age 96, Wineland was a preteen and just learning how to handle guns. One day
his curiosity got the best of him when he slipped out during class under the
pretense of using the outhouse. Instead, he quietly made his way into the coal
house to check out the rifle he spied there earlier. While fiddling with the
firearm it shockingly went off!
Students were all in their seats when the gun
fired a bullet straight through the school's front door hitting the centrally
located potbelly stove.
The Game Warden was called, the school directors had a meeting, and of course,
plenty of rumors went round. Although I don't know the actual outcome, I
assume Granddad never forgot this incident; especially since he drove by that
little schoolhouse every day. Interestingly, a mark from the gunshot remains on
the front door to this very day.
Fortunately for many of us, we can still laugh
about the funny things we did in elementary school; whether it was how we got
caught chewing gum or a myriad of other experiences that flash across our
minds. Those long gone days of school will sweetly haunt us for all time.
[This is a revised story from Risa's "Looking
Back" column that runs in the Morrisons Cove Herald.]