The trial of Penn State's football coach Jerry Sandusky for multiple child molestation charges has brought back unpleasant memories of my own encounter of like nature at the hands of a music teacher.
Although my experience was not nearly as horrific as those claimed by the alleged victims of the college football coach, it affected my innocent trust in adults for a long time before I was able to put it behind me and move on.
I was ten years old and not a very good student. My parents were aware of my intense interest in learning to play a musical instrument of any sort as long as it was made of brass and made a lot of noise. As an enticement to “catch-up” on my schoolwork assignments, they offered to let me take saxophone lessons. An antique sax was available from the physician my Mom worked for.
I was overjoyed and got into my schoolwork with renewed vigor. It was only a couple of weeks before I was completely abreast of my scholastic assignments. In the meantime, I had obtained a saxophone fingering chart from a friend and already knew how to play the various notes on the instrument even before the antique, C-Melody saxophone appeared in our household.
My life was changed! I had taken piano lessons for a couple of years but I was headed nowhere in that endeavor. I wanted a more manly instrument and the oversized saxophone fit the bill exactly.
We had already looked around for a music teacher. The schools didn't offer lessons then as many schools do today. We had to learn on our own before we were eligible to join the elementary school “band/orchestra.”
It didn't take long to master the instrument and I was accepted into the school band/orchestra and subsequently played the sax in various dance bands until after college. Our college band played all over the Southeast on weekends and a fellow wrote a mostly fictionalized novel about our adventures several years ago.
But my experience with my music teacher was certainly not fictionalized.
My parents had lined up lessons with a neighbor who had played professionally before joining the postal service. He got off work early in the afternoon and I would lug my saxophone around to his house for lessons. All went well until about the third or fourth lesson.
I was like most ten-year-olds. I trusted people. No one had ever confronted me with anything harmful or indecent. But this was about to change.
I walked in the teacher's home one afternoon and I thought it strange that he hollered from within for me to “come on in.” As I entered the living room, I could see him standing naked down the hall as he shaved in his bathroom. I quickly turned my eyes and took a seat on the couch and was opening my instrument case when he walked into the room and announced that it was time that I learned some “breathing” exercises and proceeded to try to touch me inappropriately in a way that I knew was neither normal nor decent. I had enough presence of mind to ascertain that this was no place for me and quickly made my exit.
I was shaken that an adult would ever suggest such a thing and in my childish heart, I felt guilty of something even though I had been a party to nothing. I anguished over what I should do.
During supper with my Mom, Dad and little sister, I became sick on my stomach and excused myself from the table. My Dad knew something was wrong and followed me to my bedroom.
I had already decided to tell him everything. My Dad was a calm man and slow to anger but this time it was different. I could see his anger. Dad composed himself and said to me that he was sorry that he had put me in such a position but he would take care of it and it would never happen again to me or anyone else. I knew things were going to be OK but it was a long time before I was able to trust many adults again.
I don't know the details of what my Dad did or said but I know that he went to see the guy the next day and I am certain that he adequately “explained” things to him in a forceful manner. I do know that the man kept his distance well away from both adults and other kids in the neighborhood thereafter.
At that time, the public had not yet been “educated” to today's belief that somehow the “unnatural” is natural. It was before “modern” society had adopted a “new normal.” Tradition, religion, history, civilized society and commonsense told my young mind that sexual activity was between two married adults of opposite gender.
How are young kids expected to react today when they are being bombarded with convoluted “new” ideas of sexuality from just about every direction? I hope they react just as my Dad and I did.
John Brock is a retired resident of Georgetown County. He can be reached by mail at this newspaper by Email: email@example.com.
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