In the 1960s, I was re-united with my best friend from grade school. By that time, Susan and her husband had three sons. The eldest, John (aged 10 at the time), was one for getting into everything.
One late Fall afternoon, when Susan and I were having coffee, John came home and walked through their kitchen. With that ‘radar’ that mothers often have, she sensed that John had done something bad. She reached out and grabbed John by the back of his jacket. “I know you’ve done something, John – what is it?” Susan asked her son. John looked at the floor and his face turned bright red.
At that point, Susan took off his jacket for him and dug her hands into the pockets. There was the usual stuff a little boy carries in his pockets–string, a chewed piece of gum, caps for his cap pistol – and a brand-new spinning wooden top, still in the package. With one glance at the price, Susan knew that John could not have bought the top out of his allowance.
“Did you steal this toy from Mr Ozawa’s market, John?” she asked her son point-blank. From his silence and even brighter blush, the answer was obvious. Looking at me, she asked: “Would you like to go with us to the store? John’s going to give back this top he stole, and then he’ll be punished.” I agreed to go with them. Off we went, about two blocks to the little market in our heavily Japanese neighbourhood.
Mr Ozawa not only catered to the community’s adults, with all sorts of items for the properly kept Japanese home, but he also carried a lot of imported toys. Sometimes the toys were too much for children to resist. On the way, Susan gave John a lecture about what he was going to say to Mr Ozawa. I had a feeling that wasn’t going to be the end of the little drama – and I was right.
When we entered the store, Mr Ozawa was standing behind the counter. He bowed to us very formally. I’m sure he must have known why we were there.
“Hello, Mr Ozawa,” said Susan. “John stole something from your store, and he’s going to give it back and apologise.” John, who was never very outgoing, stared at the floor and said nothing. Susan urged him to speak but finally her patience was exhausted.
“All right, then, I’ll spank you first, right here in the store, with your pants down, and then you’re going to apologise to Mr Ozawa,” said Susan firmly. Saying nothing more, she sat down on a barrel next to the counter. I tried to look like part of the displays while she undid John’s belt and jeans, and slid them down to his knees with his underpants following.
“Mr Ozawa, may I borrow your ruler, please?” Susan asked. He silently handed her the half-yard ruler. It was only then that John started to struggle. He probably thought that his mother wasn’t going to go through with her threat because there were a few other people in the store. Boy, was he wrong!
Susan immediately began spanking John’s bare bottom with the ruler. He kicked and yelled through his tears, but Susan grabbed his wrists and held them at the back of her son’s waist. She spanked John until his little white bottom had turned beet red.
This episode had drawn quite a crowd; besides the people who were there when we got there, a few had wandered in from the street to see what the ruckus was about. I noticed several of the adults nodding in agreement, while one or two children were unconsciously rubbing their bottoms in sympathy.
Susan stood John up in front of the counter, with no undies or jeans on, but she didn’t hand back the ruler, which John was staring at in fear.
“John, apologise to Mr Ozawa and give him back the toy that you stole, right now.” This time, in a very low voice interrupted with a few hiccups, John did as he was told. Then Susan shocked me: “Mr Ozawa, would you like to spank John too?” and she handed the old man the ruler. He walked around to the front of the counter, bowing to the Japanese adults in the store.
Susan got up and gave him her barrel seat, and pushed John over his lap. John yelped in protest but it did him no good. Mr Ozawa spanked John’s red bottom thoroughly, in silence, then stood him up and went back behind his counter, taking the ruler with him.
John was so outraged that he stood in the middle of the store crying and rubbing his red bottom for several minutes before he remembered that he hadn’t any clothes on below the waist. When he did, shock registered on his face and he turned to his mother who held out his jeans and undies to him. He put them on quickly! Then we all left the store.
I never heard of John stealing anything else in his life.