Back in the mid 1950s, I was a schoolboy living with my parents and a sister and brother in suburban Philadelphia. At the time of this story, I was 10 years old and it was a Saturday night. My parents had gone out for the evening and my sister, who is five years older, was at a friend’s house. My brother (who is four years younger) and I were left with a babysitter.
The babysitter was a straight-laced older women named Miss Emma who my parents knew from somewhere. She was an old maid and probably in her 60s at the time.
Early in the evening, a playmate of mine came over and we were in a room next to the living room where Miss Emma was reading a book. I was just at that age when boys learn a lot of naughty words and we were trying them out. I don’t know what came over me. Back then, foul language was a serious offence, especially around an older woman.
Later my friend left and I went up to my bedroom and put on my pyjamas. When my parents came home, I could hear they were discussing something. Then my father left with Miss Emma to take her home – it was a 20-minute drive in each direction. My brother was already asleep in his room.
My mother came up the stairs in a hurry and opened my bedroom door with authority. I was in bed but still awake, reading a comic book. My mother was in her early 30s then and was dressed up for the evening. She wore a fancy white blouse, a fairly tight-fitting black wool skirt and high heels. And she was furious.
She pointed to the doorway and said: “Get into the bathroom this instant!” I said: “What did I do?” She replied: “Immediately!”
I knew better than to argue with my mother, so I jumped out of bed and ran into the bathroom. She came into the room, opened the medicine cabinet, took out a fresh bar of soap, unwrapped it and told me stand in front of the sink. She then partially filled the sink and placed the soap in the water.
I was instructed to fold my hands behind my back, bow my head down towards the sink and stick my tongue out. She then washed my mouth out with soap. I still remember the terrible taste, but I also remember the nice smell of her perfume. My head was spinning – but if I thought my punishment was over, I was sadly mistaken.
She took me by the wrist and led me into her bedroom and as we passed her bureau, she opened a drawer and took out an ominous-looking wooden hairbrush with a large flat back. I was taken to her dressing table, which had an armless bench seat. She pulled that out and sat down.
“Unbutton your pyjama bottoms but hold them up in place,” I was told. The next thing I knew, I was over my mom’s lap and my PJs were down below my knees. The thing I still remember was the prickly feel of her wool skirt on my body.
She placed her left hand on the back of my head and gently but firmly pressed it down, then with the same hand she pushed my pyjama top a little higher, then pressed it firmly into the small of my back.
She leaned forward and said into my ear in a stern but compassionate way: “I never want you to use dirty language again, ever! Understood?” Before I could answer, the brush came down hard on my bare behind. Even before the pain from the first stroke had time to radiate through my body to my brain, another landed – and another.
It took me a second to catch my breath but when I did, all I could do was cry. The spanking probably only lasted a minute but the strokes were very sound and quite frequent – a steady rhythm. By now, tears were running down my nose and into my mouth – I remember the salty taste.
The next thing I knew, the spanking was over and mother pulled me into an upright position on her lap. She held me in her arms and said nothing at first, but then took my chin in her hand and made me look her in the eyes and promise to never behave so rudely again.
Later, after I had been sent back to my room, my mother came in with a jar of cold cream and rubbed some into the reddest fanny you could ever imagine. As the cream cooled and soothed my bottom, I was told that she loved me dearly but alas, my punishment wasn’t quite done. And yes, if you must know, I got an enema early the next morning. I’m almost too embarrassed to admit it.
But you know, to this day, I don’t swear in front of ladies – and all because my mother gave me the spanking of my life.