A Train Trip Story

A Letter From the Old Folks Home:

The blog is about living life after 70 with joy, resilience, and purpose. A Letter from the Old Folks Home  is a source of positive, helpful advice encouraging people to set and achieve goals  and find joy in life. The blog will cover personal experiences and thoughts and concerns. Topics of blogs will include health, retirement, fashion, travel, and  living in continuing care retirement communities. The  blogs will be short and appear once a month on my website www.nadineblock.com or by email if you choose (see the contact form on this website). Come walk with me.

A Train Trip Story

Book launch party for Breaking the Paddle: Ending School Corporal Punishment

A train trip is a metaphor of life as a journey.  You get on a train when you are born.  Other people board  the train with you.  Some of the people who board with you become life-long friends. You have happy destinations and some bumps along the way.  Eventually, you get off the train.  You die.  My  journey’s end is unknown, but it cannot be distant.  I am an octogenarian. 

In the mid-l980’s I got on a train with about a dozen people who traveled together for over 20 years.  We all agreed on our destination: the  end of school corporal punishment in Ohio.  We thought our journey would be short and successful.   Hitting students with boards (“paddling”) is inhumane. All humans (except school children in some states), even most animals, are protected from this barbaric practice.  Children were injured.  University and college studies found that it is ineffective in the long term and harms children. In the mid-1980’s at the beginning of our journey, sixty-eight thousand school children in Ohio were paddled, many multiple times. 

The little group in its early years was composed of two clergymen, a clinical psychologist, two superintendents of schools, a social worker, a child abuse prevention professional,  two physicians,  a PTA state director, and me, a school psychologist.  We thought the reasoning and research we brought would dazzle the legislature.  It did not.  Educator organizations and many clergy fought a ban.  Educator organizations said it was an indispensable discipline tool for teachers and clergy opponents used Old Testament words to demonstrate God’s affirmation.   I led the legislative fight which eventually gained the support of fifty statewide organizations.   The trip took longer than we thought. There were many stops along the way.   Even when our bills went down to defeat, we celebrated with new supporters. Our group enjoyed our time together.  Social progress moves at a snail’s pace.  Eventually, we changed enough minds and hearts to succeed. Paddling ended with a ban in Ohio public schools in  2009.  I recounted this journey in  Breaking the Paddle: Ending School Corporal Punishment (Center for Effective Discipline, 2013).

In old age, we look back on our lives and savor the happy days.  I am jubilant  knowing that school children in Ohio no longer fear being hit with boards.  A significant friend on the trip, Jack Conrath, told me that Covid has curtailed his hugs as greetings to old friends.  He has substituted telling friends what they mean to him for his previous hugs. What a wonderful idea! He also knows he is near the  end of his journey.  

Why not tell friends what they mean to you now?  The devoted people  who traveled together  on that journey mean a lot to me.  I send virtual hugs,  love and greetings to my friends on this journey.