Last night my sister dropped by as well as my next door neighbor. Ray and I sat at the dining table with them and had quite a discussion about attending Catholic School and the nuns in charge of our education. We all had a story or two to share about surviving parochial school and the forms of discipline we encountered. In my blog yesterday“You Can’t Hit Girls” I wrote a little about the discipline plan my parents employed in our home when we were growing up. My sister and I got into a sidebar of our own on the subject and she brought up a few points I had forgotten to mention in my post.
Now she readily agreed that being hit or spanked was the number one form of discipline in our home and that the belt was used most often. It was definitely my dad’s number one tool of choice. Believe me I should know, I was on the receiving end of that belt more times than I care to remember. Once in a blue moon he would revert to the beating instrument my grandparents used on him as a child, a switch. He used to tell us that sometimes grandpa made him go out into the yard and cut the switch that he was to be whipped with himself! More torture. Thankfully he didn’t revert to the switch very often, he was much more adept at spanking with the belt.
My sister also recalled that the belt was more than just a hitting instrument. It was also a tool or visual aid used by my mother to intimidate us and influence our behavior. As soon as she mentioned it images of my mother wearing the belt loosely around her waist came to mind. She could be wearing her nightgown, covered by a robe and still have that thick leather belt on. She would occasionally remove the belt, fold it in half, hold it in both hands and make loud snapping sounds with it. I hated that sound! It was like the cracking of a whip. Yeah we were definitely afraid of the belt. I truly believe she enjoyed seeing the fear in our eyes, and there was no doubt about it, the fear was there!
As we talked we recalled that although the belt was the primary tool used to discipline us, there were other objects that were sometimes used in our spankings. I remembered them using the power cord from the iron as one of their spanking implements. You remember those don’t you? Back in the day you could unplug the power cord from the wall outlet and from the bottom of the iron as well. With its round shape cord and cloth cover it was perfect for use in spankings. My sister also remembered what my parents called the “Cat of nine tails” which was about four or five short lengths of rubber cord and rope bound together with tape on one end to form an easy to grip handle. Yet another fine spanking tool in their arsenal. Yeah it was quite nasty and hurt like hell. Thankfully I don’t recall getting hit with it very often. It was more of an intimidation device.
There were a few other items my mom sometimes used for spanking that came to mind later, like the large wooden spoon she beat on me with one night at the dinner table for some rude remark I made, the toilet plunger, shoes and once even an umbrella. The spanking instrument I remember most was a piece of one by two pine about two foot long. I can still see her standing in my bedroom doorway wielding that piece of wood. From my vantage point on my bed it looked like a club. And in that moment I foresaw broken bones in my future.
I was about 15 years old and made one of the dumbest decisions of my life to that point that is. It was a Saturday morning and we were having breakfast around 10AM. My mom made some comment or accusation, I got upset and stormed out of the house. Yeah I was going to show her. I walked up to Memorial Park and hung out with my cousin and a few friends until dark. We then went across the street to another friends house and I stayed there until nearly 1AM then walked home. When I got there I was quite surprised to see that my mom’s car was not in her usual parking spot. I walked into the house and found my dad sitting in the family room reading the news paper. I fully expected him to get up and beat the hell out of me but instead he just sat there and calmly said “Your mom’s out looking for you, you better go to your room.”
Shocked by his lack of action I went to my room closed the door, turned out the light and got beneath the covers. About twenty minutes later I heard her car pulling into the driveway. A few minutes later my door flew open, the overhead light flashed on and my mom rushed in holding the one by two at her side. I could see she was really pissed so I just laid their feigning sleep hoping she might take pity on me. No such luck. she began yelling at me then raised the one by two and took a step towards me. I knew I was going to get the beating of a lifetime. But suddenly she stopped and glanced across the room to where the hollow body electric guitar I worked all summer to buy rested on my dresser. I didn’t have enough money to buy a case so it was covered with a beach towel. My mom looked back at me cowering on the bed for a few moments then back towards my guitar. She stood there a moment or two longer then lunged towards my dresser and proceeded to beat the hell out of my guitar. I was shocked! I may have even screamed! It was awful!
I don’t know how long my mom beat on my guitar but it seemed to last forever. She finally stopped, looked over at me and said “I figured that would hurt you worse than hitting you.” With that she turned off the light, walked out of my room and shut my door. I can’t tell you how long I laid there in the dark crying I have absolutely no idea. All I remember is eventually building up the courage to get up and take a look. I turned on the overhead light walked over to the dresser and slowly removed the beach towel. I may have even screamed again. My guitar was completely destroyed. I stood there staring at what had once been my pride and joy, my first guitar for the longest time. Eventually I went back to bed and cried myself to sleep. What she had done felt far worse than any spanking I’d ever received. It was truly a lesson of a lifetime. Like I said my mom was quite creative.