“THE CORN IS AS HIGH AS AN ELEPHANT’S EYE”

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At State Street Elementary School, fifty and more years ago, we had a principal’s whose name is Mr. Wells. He used to sing a song titled, “Oh What a Beautiful Morning.” I always thought it was called: The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye, but it is not.

It sings about a bright golden haze on the meadow, and oh what a beautiful morning, day, feeling and everything is going my way.

It sings about the cattle standing like statues, they don’t turn their heads as they see me ride by, but a little brown mav’rick is winking her eye.

It sings that the sounds of the earth are like music, the breeze is so busy it doesn’t miss a tree and an ole weeping willow is laughing at me.

Then it ends with: Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day, I’ve got a beautiful feeling; everything’s going my way.

It as you read, only says one line with: The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye. Only once, and to me it is the whole of the song as I remembered it. On further study, I see that the message is not about corn, not about being as high as an elephant’s eye, but a positive and beautiful message about waking up in the morning to a beautiful day, having a beautiful feeling that everything’s going your way.

I am glad to have re-visited this childhood song sung at every assembly during my elementary school days by Mr. Wells.

Now, Mr. Wells was not just a singing principal, he was a strong disciplinarian. A little group of hoodlums at the school harassed all who dared to step into their territory. Mr. Wells seemed to approve of them. I want you to remember as you read; this is elementary school grade 5. As I look back, it seems young to have had such a difficulty. Some people have asked, did you tell your parents? No I did not. I did not want them to think badly of me, as the hoods made me feel about myself.

I dared myself to do lots of things, and one of them was to take my chances with the hoodlums. One of them was so cute; I couldn’t catch my breath as I walked by him. Barely breathing at the sight of the cute hood, one beautiful morning when the corn was as high as an elephant’s eye, I stepped into “Hoodlumville Territory.” They jumped on me and pinched my breasts, spit on my face, kicked my knees and as I scrambled away on all fours, I yelled: ” You Son of a Gun.”

The next morning, I found myself in Mr. Wells’ office with the Hoodlum Gang. Mr. Wells asked me if I cussed at these boys.

I stated, “No.” He said did you say,” You Son of a gun?”

I stated, “Yes.” He asked the Hoods to leave his office and as they did, he took off his belt and slapped my upper body three times. As I turned to leave the office, I coughed out words through my tears, ” I did not know guns had sons.”

It was not such a beautiful morning, it was not such a beautiful day, I didn’t have a beautiful feeling, and everything was not going my way. But, the corn was as high as an elephant’s eye and it looked like it was climbing up to the sky!

Rest In Peace, Mr. Wells.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Vera Wall
    Jun 10, 2015 @ 17:27:29

    I remember him singing that and also “Manana”. Didn’t know of your “problems”. Didn’t even realize such things went on.

    Reply

    • Sheila Clapkin
      Jun 11, 2015 @ 15:55:06

      I do not think any of us told each other such bad things. I know I never told my parents because I thought I was bad bad. NOT so as it turns out. I think Mr. Wells was a good hearted person and that is the way they handled things then. Again, my question formed from this post is Why oh why do girls love bad boys so much? They are alluring.

      Reply

  2. Diane
    Jun 11, 2015 @ 12:30:57

    How your story sends me back in time to the assembly and Miles Ave. I feel sad because I never knew his ways which he should have been fired and sanctioned for. DI

    Reply

  3. Sheila Clapkin
    Jun 11, 2015 @ 15:52:10

    DI,
    It sends me back, too. I teach Memoir Writing and each person is doing it their own way. Mine is in the blog form. Grandkids are actually reading it, so I have achieved my goal. These are all my memories. When they come I get up and write them.I am so pleased my memory is somewhat mostly in tact. He would have never handled it the way he did in these times. But my question now after having some time to ponder it, why do girls always love the BAD boys???

    Reply

  4. Ellen Slavett
    Jul 13, 2015 @ 21:30:02

    Love this memory of yours!

    Reply

    • Sheila Clapkin
      Jul 14, 2015 @ 14:32:58

      This is a particularly strong memory and one I have lived and re-lived many, many times. It didn’t do much for my self-esteem then, but surely does make me strong as I re-live it. But somehow the Bad Boys do rule hearts don’t they. We have a couple of Bad Boys turned marvelous.

      Reply

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