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Bly, Oregon, Garlic and the Big Boom

Story ID:10597
Written by:Charles Dishno (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Dillon Montana USA
Year:1947
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OurEcho Preface This post deals with a mature theme or contains explicit language. While the post is not extremely violent or pornographic, it does contain language or explore a subject matter that may offend some readers. If you do not wish to view posts that deal with mature themes, please exit this post.
Bly, Oregon, Garlic and the Big Boom
By Chuck Dishno
July 4th, 2015

I have written many stories about my growing up in the unique town and time in my hometown of Bly, Oregon. This is just another memory that has been with me for at least 65 years. It took place sometime in November of 1947.

School was well underway and as usual we had a new teacher, Mr. Bunton who taught 7th and 8th grades along with a few high school classes. Mr. Bunton was a large single man and lived in a small house directly across the street from the school. He was nice man but not to popular with the boys and some of the girls in school. I think, partly because he was a strict disciplinarian who was quick to get out the principal’s maple paddle that had carved into the flat part, “THE WAYOF THE TRANSGRESSOR IS HARD”. I am not saying that most of the recipients didn’t deserve the “hacks” as they were called, I’m sure I deserved the ones I got, but it was the way they were administrated. Our principal, Earl Graham was usually the one who gave out the allotted hacks and he did it front of his office by having the recipient bend over, grab their ankles and take the punishment. That was OK and after the first one or two it didn’t hurt and we were on our way back to the classroom wearing a “red badge of courage”. Mr. Graham wasn’t vicious in any way, he had set down rules and if a person violated them he or she had to pay the price.

Mr. Bunton, on the other hand, was quite different. He would make the recipient go to the principal’s office, get the paddle, bring it back then stand in front of the class in the usual bent over posture and take their punishment. This was humiliating to the person and Mr. Bunton seemed to enjoy swinging extra hard with a mean look in his eyes. After the punishment was complete the person had to take the paddle back to Mr. Graham.

Most of us had no problem with Mr. Bunton and he was a good history teacher but he did have one problem that got to everyone teachers included – he reeked of garlic that seemed to radiate from his clothes and body. Everywhere he went he was followed by an invisible cloud of garlic. Poor Mr. Bunton didn’t seem aware of this or else he didn’t care.

As I mentioned earlier he lived alone and could be seen each evening sitting at his kitchen table in front of a large window. A few of the boys would observe him mixing a large salad bowl and sprinkle on what we assumed was garlic. He would sometimes see a bunch of his boys staring at him; smile and wave then go back to his garlic dinner.

A few of the older boys (I am not naming any names but I wasn’t one of them) decided to take matters in hand and teach Mr. Bunton a lesson. None of them wanted to do any physical harm so a more subtle plan was hatched.

School had been in session for about 3 months when someone came up with the plans to set a large firecracker under his kitchen window while he was eating his salad. The 4th of July had long since been over and in those days all kinds of fireworks were legal including some bombs that have long since been outlawed. A few of us had kept some of the larger firecrackers to be set off at New Year. One of the guys said he might have just the thing that would do the trick on Mr. Bunton. The next day he showed us the biggest firecracker I had ever seen. I thought it might have been a stick of dynamite but was wrapped with the classic red firecracker paper and had a long fuse attached in one end apparently giving the person setting it off time to get far enough away. We all approved of this thing and plans were made to place it under Mr. Bunton’s window after he sat down to consume his large bowl of garlic salad.

That evening we sat around on the school lawn and waited for Mr. Bunton to make his appearance. After an hour or so he still hadn’t shown up and it was getting cold so I decided to head home. I lived about a block from the school and figured I would hear the “bomb” if it went off. By 9 o’clock I was getting ready for bed assuming that nothing was going to happen that night. After walking into my bedroom and opening a window, I heard a small “pomp” and footsteps of someone running down the street. I then heard someone say, “Oh crap, is that all its going to do?” That statement was followed by the loudest boom I have ever heard and much laughter as the footsteps reversed themselves. Apparently Mr. Bunton sat down for a late bowl of garlic salad and as soon as he got settled and starting to eat one of the boys set the bomb under his window, lit the fuse and took off running. They figured out later that the first “pomp” was a detonator that set off the large bomb. A few of the boys who were sitting on the school lawn saw the entire episode. They said when the big boom went off, Mr. Bunton shot up like a cannon shell and the salad flew all over the room. By the time he got to the door to look out the entire gang and disappeared. This happened on a Saturday night and fortunately no one was hurt.

The next Monday, we all returned to school and right on schedule, Mr. Bunton came in, glanced over his students and resumed his teaching role. Nothing was ever said but the boys involved were sure they would be found out and their gluteus maximus would suffer the consequences.

I know this was a mean thing to do but that was the way things were in Bly in the 1940’s. I believe Mr. Bunton stayed on for the rest of the year, still wheedling his paddle, perhaps with a bit more gusto. He might have come back the next year but I am not sure. He really was a nice man.

When my time comes to pass through those Pearly Gates, I will have my nose sniffing the air for the faint smell of garlic. If I detect any, I will look around and I may see Mr. Bunton standing on a Heavenly Cloud with a paddle in his hand waiting to give out some well deserved Heavenly Hacks.

Most of us were pretty good guys even though we all have “THE WAYOF THE TRANSGRESSOR IS HARD” permanently imprinted on our collective backsides.