From Keith Taylor...
SEX EDUCATION, INDIANA STYLE
More than three-quarters of a century ago I got my elementary and high school education at tiny Beaver Dam school in northern Indiana. We were taught the ABC’s and the four R’s, reading, riting, arithmetic, and religion; but virtually nothing about sex.
That we learned the way God intended—from the older kids. What we didn’t learn from them we learned from direct observation. Our little, provincial school did nothing to prepare us for intimate contact with members of the opposite sex.
The teachers had absolutely no concept of how to handle the question. Take Mrs. Babcock. She was a frumpy, lumpy old lady with ill-fitting, clacking false teeth. Certainly no cuss words ever passed by them. I wonder how Mrs. Babcock would have handled sex education? It’s impossible to imagine her putting a condom on a banana—or on anything else for that matter.
As a matter of fact, the mere possession of a condom once caused trouble for my eldest brother, Arden. He was almost kicked out of school in his senior year simply because he put one of the things in a classmate’s book. Arden figured it would merely embarrass the young lady and that would be the end of it, but the girl didn’t know what it was. When she asked the teacher, there was hell to pay.
Mr. Silvus was our agriculture teacher. He did touch on the subject of sex, if not condoms. His lessons were limited to sex among animals, not people. The gestation periods of animals were important to ag students, and that, unfortunately, meant the teacher had to mention sex. He taught that us a mouse had a gestation period of 20 days, a pig 113, a horse 337, and an elephant 645.
The whole class snickered when Mr. Silva told us that cows and women both take nine months from conception to birth That’s one bit of information I never forgot and never found a use for.
Other than the snippets of sex we learned in agriculture, we were sheltered from the dreadful subject both by our parents and by our teachers. Mom, for example, loved to tell of how Arden got into trouble, but she sure hemmed and hawed when she tried to explain just what it was he put into the girl’s textbook.
Thus we were on our own. Ideas on the subject, many folklore, were passed from older kids to the younger ones. The same guys who taught us to put our jock straps on backwards were responsible for our sex education. What we didn’t learn from the older guys, we learned on the farms. Each barnyard was a laboratory with a new lesson to be learned practically every week or so.
Elmer’s super rat-killing dog, Skippy, provided Max and me with a few interesting lessons on sex. Skippy, unlike my own dog Jake, had two perfectly good testicles. Unfortunately, he didn’t quite understand how to use them. When he wasn’t catching rats, sleeping, or otherwise carrying out dog duties, he would try to mate with Uncle Elmer’s leg or one of the cats. Elmer didn’t like that one bit, but the cat thought it was swell.
She and skip even worked out a system. The cat would get on the first step of the stairs to the hayloft, curl her tail above her back and wait for ecstasy. It didn’t quite happen. Skip would stand astraddle her and punch big holes in the air, sort of like one of the hoochie coochie dancers at the Warsaw fair. They never connected, but we admired their efforts.
Skippy’s one big stab at romance ended not with a climax, but with an anticlimax. A female dog once ventured to Elmer’s place and fell victim to ol’ Skip’s charm. They did that sniffing and dancing around in circles that dogs do. Then Skip got her cornered and they went at it, Max and I cheering them on all the while.
I swear dogs have the ability to disassociate themselves from the what they are doing at that time. Even during the most exciting part both participants manage to do little more than pant and gawk at something across the barnyard as if they’re utterly disinterested in the act of procreation.
In the end, however, Skippy and his lady friend suffered the indignity of being unable to complete the act. They got stuck together! It looked as if they were indeed joined until death would do them part. I figured if they’d paid more attention to what they were doing it would have worked out better. But, somehow, they managed to twist themselves into something that looked like one of those a grotesque paintings on the walls of the pyramids. There they were, standing rear to rear—one facing east, one west. Still, the look on their faces was one of pure innocence as if they didn’t even know they were hooked together.
If our dog had been able to talk I would have asked him some questions:
“Hey Skippy what you doing?”
“Oh nothing, just standing here.:”
“What about that other dog, the female?”
“What other dog?”
Aunt Thel settled the whole thing by throwing a bucket of water on them. That put an end to Skippy’s only romance. She also gave Max and me a dirty look as if we had something to do with it.
If dogs are blasé, chickens make up for it. You just won’t believe how they do it. For a long time I thought they were fighting. I’m not sure the chickens even understood it very much themselves. At least they got more excited over the whole thing than most animals. It’s a good thing the chicken sex act doesn’t last long; the hen would be too tired to lay eggs.
Cows got pretty worked up over sex also. We had a bull I dubbed Ferdinand, old lucky Ferdinand. Elmer had lots of cows and he was the only guy in the bunch. That bull only did three things, eat, sleep and service the cows. He was so good at the last that he ate and slept the rest of the time. That may not have been enough for the cows though, quite often one of the cows would try to mount another. Maybe Elmer should have got an assistant for Ferdinand.
Pigs didn’t hurry so much. Perhaps for that reason they seemed to enjoy it most of all, especially Nonuts. Although his life was lived in mud and destined for the slaughter house, fortune turned its face to Nonuts for a brief moment. As I learned in agriculture, male piglets should be castrated within a couple weeks of their birth (I doubt that anybody consulted the pigs on that). Unfortunately Elmer didn’t always go by what Mr. Silva said. One year he put off the task until the pigs got so big we could hardly handle them. To complicate things further, the pigs didn’t cooperate with their mutilation one bit. Those fellows had grown so much it took both Max and I to hold each one down.
One frisky fellow kicked so hard he got loose and ran away with a little bit of cord still intact. That little bit of cord allowed the lucky pig to have a world of fun with all the young female pigs--about a hundred of them. He hopped on one after the other, all the time his pig smile spread from ear to pointed ear. Yes, pigs do smile at times like that. Other than the titillation nothing happened. Max and I were fascinated by his performance. Nonuts had a vasectomy years before the procedure was tried on humans. Elmer, was a pioneer. So was Nonuts I suppose.
When it was time for the pigs to go off to market, our favorite pig was underweight, almost emaciated. Still, he didn’t seem to want to stay behind. All his girl friends were going and he had to stay with his harem. He gladly climbed on board the train to make his scheduled appointment with the grim reaper in Chicago. I wondered if Nonuts still had a smile on his snout when he met his fate.
Sex didn’t seem to interest sheep much at all, not even the lack of it. Old Bill the Buck acted like he didn’t even want to do it. When he got started, he would just give it a couple of jabs and quit. The ewes always walked away from the act looking kinda disappointed. I remember once when ol’ Bent Julian was shearing the sheep. Bent used a pair of sharp, hand-held shears—no newfangled electric clippers for ol’ Bent. When he got to Big Bill, Elmer made what he thought was a passing comment: “I ought to get that fellow fixed.”
“You want it done?” Asked Bent.
Without another word, Bent snipped the bottom of the scrotum, down came Bill’s balls, another snip and Bill was no longer a buck. Alliteration aside, it was a sobering sight.
“Jesus!” said Elmer.
“Jesus!” I repeated. Once in a while cussing was appropriate. This seemed like one of those times. I was on the edge of puberty, and the act I’d just witnessed bothered hell out of me. Not for Big Bill though; his eyes got a little bigger for just a moment. Otherwise he didn’t act as if anything out of the ordinary had happened.
That didn’t seem right somehow, but I couldn’t ask anybody about it, not even Mr. Silva and certainly not Miss Babcock.