When I was growing up in the 50s, a family lived above us who we were very close to. Me and my three brothers called the mother ‘Aunt Helen’ and I even called her only daughter ‘sis’ – she was 15 and three years older than myself. So there were three boys downstairs and one girl upstairs.
Aunt Helen often babysat for us and kept an eye on us when our parents were at work or away for other reasons. Most things could be heard through the walls or the floors, so there was really very little privacy.
If Aunt Helen was punishing her daughter Mary we could hear the sounds of the strap and her crying very clearly, and when we were getting punished they could hear it upstairs. It was always a little embarrassing when I would pass Mary in the hall or on the street and she would ask me what I had done to get the strap, and then tell me that it must have hurt a lot because I was crying very hard and promising to be good.
When I was younger, she often saw me get spanked by her mother when she was in charge of me and I had done something wrong, but I was 12 now and that had not happened in a couple of years.
When Mary told me that she had heard my mother yell at me to go to my room and get ready for the strap I would get embarrassed, partly because I was now 12 and partly because I knew that she knew exactly what that meant, because the routine was always the same.
Mary had spent a lot of time in our house so she knew that when my mother uttered those words, it meant I had to go to my room, take off my clothes, put a pillow in the middle of the bed and lie face down on the bed over the pillow.
This is how I had to be when my mother walked into the room. I couldn’t be still getting undressed or even arranging the pillow so I could bend over it – I had to be already in position. The penalty was an extra 10 or 12 across the back of the legs, so you can imagine how fast the clothes came off and the position on the bed was taken.
The worst part was the waiting. Then the footsteps coming toward the door make my stomach do flips, and it would get worse when my mother came into the room with my father’s strap in her hands. She would lecture me as she started dishing out the punishment.
The first three I could usually take, although the sting and the burn were incredible, but after that I would blubber and cry uncontrollably. The worst were the ones that curled around and snapped around your backside or far leg.
Whenever I would turn over or put my hand back to protect my backside she would give me a couple of hard ones across the legs and make me get back in position. After it was over, I would lie in bed trying to rub the sting away, and then I would think about how everything was heard upstairs.
The summer after I turned 13, both our families rented a small cottage near the beach. We really had a good time, especially since a friend of mine was allowed to come because my mother was a good friend of his mother’s. After a week, we were supposed to leave and Aunt Helen’s family was to use it for the next week.
When Aunt Helen arrived, she told my mother it would be OK if my friend and I wanted to stay another week with them, because there were only two of them. John, her husband, couldn’t get off work, so there would be extra room. I was glad and so was my friend.
We had been there only two days when I made a mistake that I would never forget. I tried to take something from the local store without paying for it. It was a water pistol and I didn’t have enough money for it. Needless to say, I was caught.
I didn’t know the telephone number for the cottage, so the manager sent my friend to bring a parent back. In about 10 minutes, my friend returned with Aunt Helen and Mary. My friend told them what had happened and while Aunt Helen was talking with the manager, Mary was giving me this look that was saying: “Boy, are you in trouble.”
When Aunt Helen finished talking to the manager she assured him: “I’ll deal with it.” I started to get a little concerned when Aunt Helen’s only statement to me was: “Get in the car.”
She said nothing in the car until we got to the driveway and then the bombshell dropped. “I’m taking your mother’s place while we’re here and I’m going to give you exactly what she would have given you”. My heart sank and my head started to swim.
Then she asked the question that the three of us knew the answer to. “What would your mother be telling you to do right now, after she heard of the shoplifting?” There was only one answer and there was no getting away from it. I had to tell her. “She would tell me to go to my room and get myself ready for the strap.”
They also knew the routine, so I soon found myself going through the begging ritual with Aunt Helen that I went through with my mother. “Please, give me another chance, I won’t do it again, I’ll be good.” But it didn’t do any good, and I was starting to feel a little foolish in front of my friend.
I went to my room, closed the door and got undressed. I wasn’t really embarrassed about being bare in front of Aunt Helen, but getting a whipping from her at my age was something else. I put the pillow in position and lay face down over it. I could hear them moving around in the living room, and started to think about how the whipping would sound, since the walls didn’t go all the way to the ceiling and they were paper thin.
Aunt Helen always had her husband’s strap with her in case Mary needed to be punished and it was dreaded by her, so I knew I was really going to feel it. When she opened the door, I could see Mary and my friend behind her looking into the room until she closed the door. She stood over me, lecturing me about stealing and shoplifting, and I gave her the usual answers about being sorry and never doing it again.
She finished up her lecture with: “Sometimes, when boys do things like this, they need to have their bare backsides thoroughly strapped to give them something they will remember.” With that, the strap went high into the air and came down with that bare skin-smack sound, followed by that sting and burn sensation that is almost indescribable. This was worse than my mother’s strap, but I never mentioned that comparison.
Aunt Helen got into a sort of rhythm and after four or five I was flopping all over the bed, arching my back, kicking my legs, turning over whenever I had to, trying to cover up my backside with my hands, begging for no more, promising to be good, calling Aunt Helen ‘mommy’ and calling out: “Please, mommy – I’ll be good. No more mommy, please!”
Aunt Helen lectured continuously. “What do you think about shoplifting now?” (Smack!) “Do you think it is such a good idea?” (Smack!) “You are going to get this strap up one side of your bare backside and down the other so that you will remember this the next time you think about shoplifting.” (Smack, smack, smack!)
Finally, it was over. My backside and the top of my legs burned and stung like nothing I had ever felt from my mother. I don’t know how long I lay on the bed crying and rubbing but after a while I crawled under the covers when I thought about somebody walking in on me. Putting on my underwear was too painful when I got dressed to leave my room, so I forgot about them and just put on my shorts.
Looking Mary in the eye was difficult after my whipping, but seeing my friend was even more difficult. How could I ever think about acting like a tough guy in front of him, after he heard me blubbering and promising to be a good boy? Pretty soon things got back to normal, except when we went swimming, when the strap marks which weren’t covered by the bathing suit made it obvious what I had been through.
The first time I showered with my friend after swimming, he was mesmerised by all the strap marks when I took off my trunks. He made me feel a little better when he said: “My mother punishes me the same way, but I never got a whipping like that!”. He added: “I say the same things you do when I get a whipping, like promising to be good, promising not to do it again, begging for no more, and saying mommy over and over again.”
We kind of gave each other a little smile – and I knew that what happened wouldn’t be spread around.