D. E. Larsen, DVM
Broadbent school in the fall of 1952 had grown to its largest enrollment ever with nearly eighty students in eight grades.
The school board had discovered that the upper part of Catching Creek was actually in the Broadbent district rather than Myrtle Point. In 1952, they started busing those kids to Broadbent. It meant a long bus ride for the kids, but more students for the school.
Tommy, a small blond first-grade boy, was one of those students from upper Catching Creek. I was in the third grade that year, and Tommy, being so small, was a kid I watched over somewhat.
“David, that other David in your class has been picking on me,” Tommy said as we were waiting for the bigger kids to get out of class.
“What is he doing to you?” I asked.
“He pushes me every time he walks past me,” Tommy said. “And he says he will beat me up if I tell the teacher.”
“My dad says that you have to stand up to a bully, or he will just keep pestering you,” I said.
“Yeah, but David is scary,” Tommy said. “He almost acts like a wild man.”
The other David was a special case. The first two years of school, he and his two sisters were homeschooled. They lived at the top of Dement Creek, almost over the hill where Dement Creek, Flores Creek, and Catching Creek all started. They had no neighbors.
During those first two years, the family would come to school for testing to check their progress.
David was a holy terror during those visits. My mother tried to say he just didn’t know how to play with other kids, but I just thought he was crazy.
Starting in the third grade, David and his two sisters came to school full time. And it was a constant battle between David and all the other three or four boys in the class.
“Let’s figure out how you can get even with him,” I said.
“He always waits in the hall when we are out of class,” Roy said. “He waits there for his sisters to get out of school.
“I bet we could have Tommy hide behind the door while we stand out in the playground and make fun of David,” I said. “He will get mad and come running at us full speed with his fist in the air.”
“Yeah,” Tommy said. “And when he comes out the door, I could trip him, and he will fall down the stairs.”
“He is probably waiting in the hall right now,” I said. “Let’s just do it now. It will teach him a good lesson.”
In good weather, half of the double doors were always open. We positioned Tommy behind the closed door.
Roy and I stood out in the school playground so we could see David in the hallway. We started hollering names at him, and sure enough, he came running at us, full steam ahead.
The plan worked so much better than any of us expected. One would have thought it had been conceived by Army generals. David came running out the door, going as fast as he could run, and little Tommy stuck his foot out and tripped him. David fell, ass over tea kettle, down the five concrete steps in front of the school.
We were probably lucky that he was not seriously injured. But Tommy sort of pranced by David as he picked himself up, looking at scraps on both of his elbows.
We laughed and patted Tommy on the back and went over to the swings. David got up and went back into the hall to wait for his sisters, and he never said a word.
For the rest of David’s time at school, he was never a problem again, not for us and not for Tommy. David and his two sisters moved to Texas at the end of our fourth-grade year.
Tommy and I learned a valuable lesson that day, as did many other kids who watched the event. If you ignore the bully’s actions, you just enable him to continue his abuse. In the end, you live with the constant fear of what he will do next. There comes a time you have to stand up to the bully and trip him up the best that you can.
Lessons learned in elementary school often have applications to later, more severe events in one’s life.