My grandfather, John R. Hardin, was born in 1875. At that time, the west was still wild with Indian battles and gunslingers. My grandfather was named after his infamous first cousin, John Wesley Hardin, who was a notorious gunfighter and outlaw. Granddad also often got into trouble — but on a smaller scale.
When Granddad was going to school in the 1880’s, the schools were very strict. It wasn’t uncommon for students to get a paddling for misbehaving or not doing their assignments. My grandfather particularly disliked one old professor who seemed to delight in giving students whippings.
One day when Granddad was outside during lunch or recess, he nearly stepped in some dog droppings. A wicked idea popped into his head. After making sure all the students had gone inside, the old professor was always the last one to enter the building. The professor walked with a cane and always held on to the banister while using the stairs. Granddad picked up the dog droppings with a piece of paper, entered the school building and smeared the dog poop on the stair railing. Then he spread the word among the other students not to touch the railing. When the professor rang his bell, the students quickly hurried inside, up the stairs and took their seats.
The students heard the old teacher climbing the stairs and then the footsteps stopped. Next came some swearing as they heard the footsteps head downstairs to the bathroom.
Everyone was silent as the professor entered the classroom. In a loud voice he announced that someone had smeared something nasty on the stair railing and he wanted to know who did it. No one said anything. Again the professor asked, “Does anyone have any knowledge of who was responsible?”
Finally, my grandfather spoke up, ” I can’t say who did it, but I know who had a hand in it.”
The old professor shouted, “Who was it?”
Mygrandfather replied, “Why, you did.”
The professor threw his cane at granddad. Because of his smart comment,Granddad also got a paddling and had to clean the banister. But he said it was worth it.