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A bad Case of the Giggles

Gross, Brother Placid. "A bad Case of the Giggles." Assumption Abbey Newsletter 31, no. 4: October 2003.


There is a day to remember when I was in either the third or the fourth grade. It was a long afternoon with the air so hot, dry, stuffy and stale. I had energy to burn, and I was restless, bored and hyper. I was always such a bashful boy that no one would ever guess that I could get into mischief even if I tried. I did have a silly streak in me though, and on occasion could be quite the clown.

Without ever thinking of causing trouble, but just to be goofy, I rolled up the legs of my pants to above the knees so that my long white underwear showed from the knees to the shoes. Then I raised my hand and asked permission to sharpen my pencil. The teacher nodded an agreement to my innocent request. After I got to the pencil sharpener in the corner of the room near the bookcase, one of the girls pointed at my legs, and in a very loud whisper said "Look at Alois"! As everybody looked at silly me I became self-conscious and started laughing. Then I quickly sat down and rolled my pants legs down before the teacher even saw it. However, the laughing had already set in and I could not stop.

My desk was in the front of that middle row so the teacher came to my desk and stood in front and asked "what's so funny"? Of course I could not say that I was only causing trouble, so I just laughed some more. After asking several more times "what's so funny"? and not getting an answer from me, the teacher got mad. Then she slapped my right cheek with her left hand and my left cheek with her right hand. Every time she made contact she hollered "what's so funny"? She slapped my face about ten times. By now the whole room was laughing. We were a neighborhood of giggly kids and there was nothing that could stop the giggling once it had set in. The two best laughers in the school, Valentine and Peter, got especially loud and fast. Now teacher hollered at those two to leave the room. Valentine and Peter went out into the entry but their laughing was completely out of control, and they simply got louder yet. They could not stand on their feet anymore from laughing so hard. Now teacher went and chased one of them all the way outside and slammed the door. Of course, by now the whole room of about 20 kids was roaring out of control. Teacher came back to me and was pulling the short hair on the back of my neck as she shouted "LAUGH SOME MORE!, LAUGH SOME MORE!, LAUGH SOME MORE!!!." That made it all the more funny and kids were falling out of their desks with laughter. Teacher tried scolding all the kids at one time, but there was nothing, absolutely nothing, that could have been done that would have quieted down that bunch that afternoon. I don't remember how we eventually shut up. We probably just got so tired and out of breath that we stopped on our own. I do know that we did not have any more classes that afternoon. It simply was the end of the school day.

Teacher was boarding at our place and I was really scared of what would happen at home.
However, when teacher came home she went into the bedroom and never came out. When she did not come out for supper my sister Elizabeth went in to talk to her. All she would say was that it was a very difficult day and she did not want anything to eat.

The accompanying excerpt is taken from Bro. Placid's new book, entitled Mannheim School #4: History and Memories of one Country School. The book consists of 120 pages (comb bound) of interviews and documents, which represents many years of careful work by the author. Not all of it is as funny as "The Giggles," but all of it is as close to the facts as Bro. Placid can make it. Order from Bro. Placid Gross, Assumption Abbey, P.O. Box A, Richardton, ND 58652 at $20 per book plus $2 for postage and packing.

Reprinted with permission of the Assumption Abbey Newsletter.

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