Blog Schedule

I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Rotten Kid and Banned Book Week

Remember, this is Banned Book Week. Read a banned book.  I look over the ALA list of banned books every year and discover something new each time. This year I was surprised to learn that  The Call of the Wild by Jack London was banned in Italy and Yugoslavia in 1929 and burned in Nazi bonfires in1933. This book holds a special place in my heart as it is the first book that made me cry and taught me how powerful words can be. I wrote about it here.

(We now return to our regularly scheduled program.)


My mother affectionately called me The Rotten Kid. Of course I blamed her for setting a good example. You can read about a couple of her childhood exploits here.

When I was 17 or 18 a family came to stay at our guest house at Lillie Maho on St. John. There were five kids. Two girls and three boys. The girls slept with their parents in one of the units, while the boys slept in one of two "overflow" rooms we called the Bunk Rooms. I slept in the Bunk Room right next to the boys and could heard them talk.

One of two cabins at Lillie Maho. Each cabin had two independent units with bath and kitchenette.
Now these boys were not little kids. The oldest was at least my age, the youngest maybe 11 or 12. You'd think three boys together would be a recipe for adventure. But these guys were total wusses. They were afraid of sleeping by themselves. They were afraid of the night noises. They were afraid of the bugs. Despite having mosquito nets they were afraid they would get eaten alive and/or catch some terrible tropical disease.

I listened to them for several nights as they complained. They hated St. John and being at the guest house. No hot water, no TV, no phones, no radio. Nothing to do. Too much sand. Too much salt water. And all the bugs! Flying and creeping things all over the place.

Then one night one of them said something about "that girl" in the other room that ticked me off.  Something had to be done.

At one time there had been a door between the rooms that was boarded over with a sheet of plywood. There was a space of about six inches between the floor and the bottom of the plywood.

I decided to give those boys something to be really frightened of.

When the lights went out in both rooms I stuck my hand through the space at the bottom of the door. I felt around, knowing that one of the beds was up against the wall which divided our rooms. I knew the foot of the bed was close to the door. I felt around until I got a hold of a corner of a sheet and slowly...very slowly, I began to pull.

There was an uproar when the boy in that bed started to feel his covers being pulled off. 

"Something's pulling my sheet!"

Lights went on. Explorations were made around the bed. I had long since removed my hand and was sitting with my back to the wall trying to keep from laughing out loud.

Eventually the lights were turned off. They convinced each other it had only been the one kid's imagination. 

But they didn't know, I was The Rotten Kid. I waited. After they were all settle down and dosing back off to sleep, I did it again. I pulled on the sheet.

"It's happening again! Something's pulling on my sheet!"

There were sounds of near hysteria. There was a scramble for the light switch. there were more useless explorations and a discussion about what was pulling the sheet. A rat was the most logical explanation. Horrors! A rat!

Satisfied that I had thoroughly demoralized those three scaredy-cat teen-aged boys I went back to bed quite satisfied with myself.

I'm sure they slept an unquiet sleep...with the light on.

The next day extra cots were moved into the unit so the boys could sleep with their parents and sisters. I no longer had to hear their whiny complaints.

Score one (or maybe three) for The Rotten Kid.

Ever pulled any stunts, played any harmless tricks?


  1. HAHAHAHAHA! Great story, Bish. I'm still laughing about it. Yes, I've pulled stunts, even as a supposed grown up, but none are coming to me right now. I'll have to come back and share when I remember one.

    Call of the Wild is one of my faves, and I need to read it again one day. I read it a couple times in my younger days. I can't believe it was banned! That just blows my mind. And that's so interesting about Jack London's life. I had no idea what his life was like. Fascinating. Thanks for this post.

  2. You are too funny. Loved this story. Hysterical, just what I needed to start my Monday off with. I just used to "pretend" to talk in my sleep at sleepovers, saying things like "She looks like a monkey..."

    In other news, le fils is reading The Call of the Wild for school! Go France!

  3. I've never pulled any stunts, only because I was afraid of what would happen to me when they retaliated. (My brothers.)

    But THAT was a good one. Although if I had been there and I heard that, I might have found one of those giant walking crabs and smuggled him into their bedroom. That would have scared them too!

  4. oh Bish -that's a great one.

    I remember talking to an alumnus from our university who told a tale about crawling above the stage and sprinkling pepper down making all of the actors sneeze during a play. He did it to get back at his #1 rival.

    They were rivals for a few more months...until they got married!

  5. Way to hand it to the wussy boys, Bish! I bet they never forgot that trip. And for all of their complaining, I wonder if they remember it fondly? Great story.

  6. Wow, those boys would've been in real trouble if they'd got sent to boarding school.
    You are hilarious, however. That was the perfect prank.
    I didn't pull pranks that I recall. Although, after I was too old to go trick-or-treating, I would sit still as a statue (in scary costume) on our porch and wait until the kids tiptoed past me before I cackled. Poor kids.

  7. I love Jack London, even if they say he was a racist. I guess it's possible, I mean I didn't know the guy, but I love his writing, and that's all I really care about.

  8. I love this, Bish! I'm glad you taught those boys a lesson. That girl, indeed. I think you should propose an anthology of rotten kid stories.

    I also played pranks and some of them were not nice. I need to be circumspect on the Internet, so will not share.

  9. Hehehehe nicely played. I can't really think of anything like that that I've done.

    I suspect I did, though. After all, I lived with my cousin.


  10. YOU little devil, you. Don't you love playing tricks of wussie boys like that?
    I had never read "Call of the Wild" until I had my own kids. I read the entire book sitting on the floor of the boys room. I was picking up after them (of course) and picked up that book from the floor. I started paging through it and sat down and didn't move until I was finished. I was crying, too.
    Love, Manzanita

  11. Ha! Score a few points for The Rotten Kid. Good for you, Bish.

    I was surprised to learn this week that To Kill a Mockingbird was once a banned book. Interesting.

    Happy reading!

  12. Yay, for the rotten kid--girl kid!!! Did they ever find out who the culprit was, or did you leave to stew about rats?

    Great story, Bish.

  13. That is hilarious!!! I love it! Pure genius.


Your Random Thoughts are most welcome!