By DAN WHITTLE
First impressions of people can be wrong.
Due to multiple wrong impressions down through the decades, I've attempted to not use another person's opinion about a person I'm about to meet.
But then first impressions can be spot on accurate.
Take my second grade school teacher, Mrs. Cox. In fact, I wish you had taken her.
When I walked in her classroom at our farm town's Canalou School of advanced thinking and higher ciphering, the teacher and I instantly knew we didn't take a liking to one another.
So, it didn't take long for "war" to break out between us.
On the second day in our new classroom, that's when all hell broke loose between Little Danny Whittle and Mrs. Cox.
It started in the morning, when classmate Rosemary Hopper sent a note to my desk: "I like you. Do you like me?"
Since Rosemary had beautiful long pig tails, I judged her to be the fox of second grade, and her note made my eyes bulge and my young heart palpitate and flutter with my first dose of school yard puppy love.
But that's when Mrs. Cox swooped down and started screaming at Rosemary that there will be no "passing notes" in her classroom.
That's when I first stood up to Mrs. Cox to quit embarrassing pretty little Rosemary...which resulted in my first paddling in school.
After getting my own emotions settled down, I penned a note to Old Lady Cox. After penning the note I waited for the teacher to start drawing out next assignment on the black board.
That's when I crawled on hands and knees to deposit my note on the edge of the teachers' desk. I didn't know it then, but I was using my gift of "stealth" even as a little boy.
Being a mannerly child, I began the note thusly: "Dear Mrs. Cox, I hate your guts very much."
Not being a bright child, I signed the note: "Little Danny Whittle."
In a few moments, we heard this roar at the front of the room. We suspected Mrs. Cox had found the note when she hollered: "Danny Whittle, bend over, for you're going to get your second whipping."
After being flogged across my shoulders and head by Old Lady Cox's wide leather belt again, I put my head down on my desk to keep Rosemary from seeing my tears.
However, in Mrs. Cox's high voltage assault she left a biggo book on Little Danny Whittle's desk.
When she got to the front of room she instructed loudly: "Danny Whittle, get that book up to me pronto!"
So, I did as instructed. I airmailed that book in a high arc through the air and when the book came down atop the teachers' pointed old ugly noggin, she seemed to stagger a step or two before charging back to my desk again with that leather belt.
In less than 15 minutes, Little Danny Whittle had been flogged by Mrs. Cox three times, a second grade school record that still stands.
In looking back with calmness over the years, I judge that "note" to Mrs. Cox with being the start of my professional writing career.
You can't tell it now, but I admit to being mischievous when growing up.
By second grade, I had a love for words. I'd read anything. And when third grade toughie Larry Dee Taul challenged me to a school yard "cussin' contest," I won it easily.
Being a second grader, I didn't know what all those biggest and baddest cuss (curse) words meant, but I knew the words from working in the fields and going crow hunting with Daddy Whittle and other adult men in our farming community.
By that afternoon Mrs. Cox had heard about our cussin' contest.
"Danny Whittle, I heard you knew how to spell the worst curse words known to man," the teacher barked.
"Yes mam, I won that cussin' contest against the older third graders," I confessed with my overall galluses bulging with pride as I strutted around the classroom for the admiration of pretty little Rosemary Hopper.
I was proud of my victory and I thought Mrs. Cox ought to be proud too.
But out Mrs. Cox came with that biggo wide leather belt to administer another "flogging" over my shoulders. I got a school-record seven floggings in second grade.I deserved that flogging for cussin'.
Later in life, as a paid professional newspaper columnist back in native Missouri, I penned a column describing my episodes with Mrs. Cox back in second grade.
A week later after my column appeared on the editorial page of The Daily Standard newspaper in Sikeston, MO, I got a note in the mail.
"Dear Danny Whittle, I have admired your writing career from afar, but I'm so sad you have such dark memories of your second grade school teacher."
It was signed: "Mrs. Cox."