It happened in the fall of 1991. I was in the second grade, my sister, Brittany was in the fifth grade and a new school year had just begun at Crescent Road Elementary School. While I was a somewhat shy seven-year-old who didn’t talk much in class, Brittany was a confident 10-year-old who was relishing in the fact she was now considered a “senior” at the elementary school. We were both good students, but she was much more willing to raise her hand to answer a question than I was at that age and it was her eagerness to do this that helped us both learn some very valuable information.
It all started when we were much younger and our Aunt Gwen would come to visit. We would pick up my Granny and cousin Jacob and we would go off on some adventure, usually to a historic Georgia landmark. Well, as you might guess with three children under 10 years of age, at some point throughout the day we would get tired or hungry or one of us would cross over the dividing line in the back seat of the car… and the whining would start. The three of us could make quite the racket in a car too. However, if memory serves me correctly, I was the least whiney of the bunch, although I am sure my sister and cousin would dispute that fact.
No matter who whined the most, our complaining would always elicit the same response from my Aunt Gwen. She would tell us if we didn’t quit she was going to take us to the “whinery,” because that is where whiney little children went. We had heard about the “whinery” our whole lives and believed it to be a real place. In my mind I imagined it to be some sort of school with mean, scary, old teachers who would torture you until you no longer complained or whined and were a well mannered child once again. The mentioning of it was usually enough to make me stop vocalizing my displeasure over whatever was upsetting me because I knew I did not want to go there. Neither did Brittany or Jacob, so we would quit after a few threats that we were changing our route to make a stop at the “whinery.”
Aunt Gwen lived in Seattle during this time, so her visits were usually limited to once or twice a year. However, that did not mean the threats of taking us to the “whinery” would slack off until she was back in town because my parents and my Granny used the threat on us many times, only adding to our belief it was a real place. It was a belief the three of us would hold until that fateful day in Brittany’s class.
“Who can tell me what a winery is,” asked Brittany’s teacher. Confident she knew the correct response, Brittany’s hand shot up first. “It’s where they take whiney children,” she said proud to know the answer. Her teacher laughed and said no that wasn’t it. Then another student raised his hand and stated it was where they made wine. Brittany was floored and so was I when she recounted the story to us that night at supper. The “whinery” wasn’t real and we had been duped. My parents thought it was hilarious and so did Aunt Gwen when they called to tell her it was time to come clean. We knew from then on any mention of taking us to the fictitious “whinery” was nothing more than an empty threat.
So, the moral of this story is, never be afraid to answer a question whether it be in school, or in life for that matter. Even if you end up being wrong, you will likely learn some very valuable information.
Ashley Biles can be reached by calling 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @AshleyBiles1