I grew up in the 50s on a small Mediterranean island off the Italian mainland, where my father was “something in intelligence”.
My two sisters (one older and one younger) and I were punished when necessary and as neither mother nor father was ever around to do it, Nanny, who ran the entire household, took charge.
We were very fond of Nan most of the time but unfortunately she believed that as children got older, their correction should be more shameful than painful. Embarrassment was the deterrent.
She insisted we all had to be present at each other’s punishments. Until we were five or six we were spanked, bare, over her knee with a hairbrush. Repercussion was swift and on the spot, wherever we happened to be.
After that we progressed to a more formal procedure – “spoonings”. These were given in the bright, sunny kitchen, a large room with a permanently open wide door onto the back yard, which everybody used to enter the house.
Our live-in local cook, her daughter Lina and anyone else who happened to be in the kitchen at the time were privy to the performances. Lina was a plain, timid girl of about my age.
Punishment was usually administered on Saturday mornings, but instant application was also possible at Nan’s discretion. In spite of our best efforts to avoid them, ‘spoonings’ were frequent.
Believe me, the pain induced by the wooden spoon was the least of our problems when compared to the mortification we were made to endure.
On one occasion, when I was 13, I was ‘called up’ for getting home late from school. In the kitchen, I removed my clothes and stood in my underwear with my hands behind my neck facing Nan, both my sisters and cook. I was relieved that Lina wasn’t in the room.
Nan pulled down my underpants herself, removing them completely, and tucked up my vest high. She proceeded to lecture me for what seemed like an eternity while I stood there, naked from the waist down.
As I stood there, helplessly on display, Lina appeared at the door, came inside and stood behind her mother. I was aware of her stealing frequent glances in my direction, carefully, so as not to get caught by her mother. I just wanted to die!
The punishment consisted of bending over a low footstool and holding the cross step with both hands – legs straight, feet apart and backside facing the room.
It gave me such a weird sensation, bent over double looking at my upside down audience – conscious of the fact that absolutely everything was embarrassingly on show to everyone. I shut my eyes.
I was given the allotted number of 12 strokes with more force than skill. I yelped and cried during the procedure and jumped around holding my burning buttocks.
At the end I had to say thank you to Nan, then face the others and apologise for making them witness my punishment. I faced the wall with hands on neck and red bottom on show for 15 minutes, after which I was allowed to get dressed and leave.
At bedtime, Nan always gave us a special treat to make up for our spooning.
I never gave up trying to persuade her to punish me in private, even offering to take more strokes, but she always replied that the deterrent was not the pain but the embarrassment. “You’re a big boy now, so just behave.”
I was last spooned a few days shortly after my 16th birthday, just before I joined the army. Both my sisters were punished until they were 19.