I can vouch for the truth and accuracy of this story because I was in the classroom when it happened. Even the names of the people are authentic. Mr. Julian Bloodworth and Mr. Fulbright are dead and I don’t know whether the hero of the story, Billy Bloodworth, is still alive.
The essential action of this story starts when one young man pulls an unseemly prank on a hapless elderly teacher and ends when another young man performs an act of pure kindness. Mr. Julian Bloodwood had served as the County School Superintendent in Wilkinson County for many years but was voted out of office before he retired. Soon afterward, Mr. Bloodworth took a job as a teacher at the Toomsboro School where he taught my tenth-grade history class. Mr. Bloodworth loved history and would sometimes stand in one place in the classroom for long periods, expounding on some important historical point. That, and the fact that Mr. Bloodworth didn’t see or hear well made him an easy target for boys who liked to pull pranks on him. A favorite prank was for the boy sitting closest to Mr. Bloodworth while he was lecturing – to slip sundry objects into the pocket of Mr. Bloodworth’s suit coat pocket. It was mostly harmless stuff like wadded paper, chalk and blackboard erasers. But on that day, a boy slipped an item into Mr. Bloodworth’s coat pocket that differed significantly from the ordinary items that were usually deposited there. The item caused excitement among class members and eventual embarrass to Mr. Bloodworth.
The item was an unpackaged condom, and when Mr. Bloodworth reached into his coat pocket to retrieve his handkerchief, the condom was left dangling from the top of his pocket. All the boys (yes, I was included) in the classroom were gleeful, and each boy performed some action that signified that he understood the gravity of the situation. The girls either showed poker faces or giggled, and all the while Mr. Bloodworth continued to lecture, oblivious to what was going on. Then Billy Bloodworth (no relation to the elderly Mr. Bloodworth) went to the teacher and they both went out into the hall. When they returned, Mr. Bloodworth went back to lecturing, giving no sign that he was perturbed.
The next day Mr. H. M. Fulbright, the School Principal, called the boys in the class to a meeting in where he angrily denounced the prank, and seemed particularly upset that anyone would do such a thing to a kind, elderly gentleman. I’m not certain that anyone besides the boy who pulled the prank knew who did it, and Mr. Fulbright said he didn’t wish to know. Mr. Fulbright ended by suggesting that if any boy ever wished to pull such a prank again – to pull the prank on him (Mr. Fulbright). I still wonder about that suggestion; can you imagine what would have happened if Norma Fulbright, the young wife of Mr. Fulbright had discovered that item in her husband’s coat pocket. I’ve always wondered if Mrs. Fulbright met with the girls who were in the classroom that day. After all, they were complicit in allowing the situation to continue until Billy Bloodworth took action to end it.
The word about this incident got around the school, and what puzzled most students was the question: what prompted Billy Bloodworth to put an end to the spectacle – and I think I know the answer. I believe Billy acted under religious conviction. You see, Billy had just recently been ordained as a minister into the Holiness Church of God. As a close friend I had witnessed a change in his behavior after his ordination that I can only describe as transformational. In any event, he performed a brave and remarkable act of kindness that day that ended an unfortunate situation.