All the legendary Hopkinsville High School stories of Bobo Cravens, known only by Mrs. Ledford as Alfred Cravens, would fill a nine-pound hardback book, and I expect that he might have by now forgotten some of them himself. This one had slipped my mind until it came back to me in a pleasant reverie of long ago days.
Bobo was a sort of mixed blessing for Mr. Petrie, the principal of Hopkinsville High. He loved Bobo dearly but fairness demanded that Mr. Petrie make some efforts to restrain Bobo’s creative mischief. A long list of minor misdemeanors finally led Mr. Petrie to suspend Bobo and require a visit from his parents before Bobo could come back to school.
Hat in hand and totally repentant, Bobo sadly started for home but was beguiled by the pool room into a short stop to recover his sense of worthiness. Time sort of got away from Bobo, and he spent the rest of the day in the pool room. It was not a total loss for him, however, as he came up with a capital idea for solving his dilemma.
Bobo showed up at school the following morning in a most contrite and repentant mood, without either parent but with a heartbreaking story. My parents are fed up with me, he reported. They have kind of washed their hands of me and they are willing to back the harshest punishment that the school can mete out to me. They suggest that you give me a good paddling or whatever you choose as punishment, but they ask not to be consulted as parents, he said. They feel they have failed as parents and they want to put the matter in your hands and see if you can reform me, Bobo said.
Mr. Petrie was a kind man, and he was much touched by Bobo’s contrition and rueful state of mind.
After all, none of the mischief seemed to warrant such abandonment. Then too, a willingness to accept any punishment seemed part of the business of atonement. Obviously, Bobo needed support as much as he needed punishment. Teaching one psychology course per day had opened Mr. Petrie’s eyes to the need for support as well as punishment.
Bobo did subsequently make a serious effort to stay out of mischief and was completely successful for the next full week.
Bobo, did you ever tell your parents anything about this episode?
TOBY HIGHTOWER is a retired educator and former Hopkinsville High School teacher. His email address is email@example.com. Write to him at 222 S. 25th St., Apartment 434, Terre Haute, IN. 47803.