Discipline at Lincoln High School under C.A. McDougle
In this excerpt, Battle remembers Lincoln High School as a tightly disciplined place. Students at Lincoln treated teachers with respect and dressed neatly and appropriately—even students who showed up to school in tuxedoes were reprimanded. The force behind this discipline was Principal C.A. McDougle.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Alice Battle, February 20, 2001. Interview K-0523. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Full Text of the Excerpt
BG: What was discipline like at school?
AB: You were afraid of the principal. I remember coming from taking class and coming from Mrs. Turner’s class which was on the end and coming up the hall going around the patrol that stood in the middle of the hall and you went right and coming up on the other side. Everybody went to the right and you would go around the patrol. You couldn’t cut across. If you got caught cutting across, you would be kind of brought back and you’d go across that way to go to your class. I knew Mary Louise Stroud was behind me and I went into Ms. ( ) room and closed the door and put my back up to the door so she couldn’t get around. There was a glass in the door and I turned around to lick my tongue and ( ) was standing there and I almost fainted. I never did that anymore. [Laughter].
One time Mr. McDougle disciplined me and I didn’t think I should have been disciplined. It was at lunchtime, and it was in the spring. I was in the library doing homework or doing something, and he came in and just chewed me out for not being outside mingling with the other students or playing with the other students. He made me stop and go out at lunchtime and I didn’t think was fair, but I went out.
BG: You didn’t argue with him?
AB: Oh, no, no.
BG: Was he principal then?
BG: What kind of principal was he?
AB: Strict. If the boys got into trouble, I don’t know what they would do but they would have to wash windows or sweep the floors. They tried not to get into trouble. You didn’t have that kissing and holding hands that I saw at Chapel Hill High School.
BG: How about gum chewing and hats in school?
AB: Oh, no, no.
BG: Shirts out?
AB: Girls didn’t wear pants either.
BG: Could boys come in with their shirts out?
BG: Tucked in.
AB: Tuck it in.
BG: The dress code was neatness?
BG: How about talking back to a teacher?
AB: I never heard of anybody talking back to a teacher.
BG: Why was that? I mean, why couldn’t you talk back to a teacher?
AB: You just didn’t do that. I mean, they were the authority figure and you just don’t do that.
Getting ahead just a little bit, I had two boys in my homeroom, Robert Davis and I can’t think of his friend’s name, but we had had the junior/senior prom that Saturday night and they--. Maybe it was Friday night and we had a snow day or something that Saturday and they came to school in their tuxedos and we spent almost the whole morning talking about them coming to school dressed like they were.
BG: You say they came on Saturday to school?
AB: I think it was a snow makeup day.
BG: I see. Mr. McDougle had an assembly and talked?
AB: No, over the intercom. This was later when I was teaching at Lincoln.
BG: How did he view that where they came to school in their tuxedos?
AB: I think he felt like they had been out all night and probably been drinking didn’t have time to dress for school properly when they come to school in their tuxedos.
BG: What was the message that the student body got from Mr. McDougle?
AB: You’re not going to do that. You don’t do that. You don’t come to school dressed like that. You dress in proper attire. That’s for the prom.
BG: Did he send them home?
AB: He didn’t suspend them but he made them feel real bad. I think they will remember it for the rest of their lives.
BG: Did you have a demerit system at the high school when you were there?
AB: No. Do you mean to do certain things some of the times that you’d get a certain kind of punishment for? I think whatever came into Mr. McDougle’s head is what he did. He didn’t beat them or anything. I can remember in fifth grade getting a ruler in my hand.