I remember my grandmother well. She died when I was 14, but she was a great influence in my life, and I will never forget her.
Every summer, we would go to my grandparents’ summer home in Maine for vacation. It was such a great place – right on the ocean and lots of land to roam. There were forests of evergreens and five beaches (small ones), so we had many choices of scenery.
One summer, when I was seven, I was permitted to go to grandmother’s alone. My brother Jeff was going to visit another relative and my parents stayed home, for my mother was expecting another baby any time.
A cousin came to visit and brought her three-year-old daughter Leslie, whom I instantly loved. She was like a china doll. I just wanted to dress her up and play with her with tea sets and all that girls do while playing with dolls. My grandmother told me to stay on the night back porch with her, for she did not know the woods as I did, and I was too young to be a guide.
We did very well for quite a while but then I really wanted her to see my favourite beach. It meant going down a path in the woods for some distance – well, out of sight of the house. I suggested that we go and Leslie agreed, looking up to me as the ‘big girl’.
I was so caught up in the magic of the moment that I did not realise that I had caused a real alarm back at the house. I could hear people calling us so I ran with Leslie back to the house, while everyone was out looking. I left her with the tea sets on the porch and ran up to my bedroom, which was in the back of the house, facing the wooded path. I stood at the window with guilt pouring all over me.
My poor grandmother, then in her 70s, came up to the steps and happened to look up at the window. “There she is!” went the cry. I crumbled to the floor, frozen in shame. How could I have done such a thing?
Grandmother came into my room and closed the door. She told me that my mother had told her that I was such a good girl, that I could always be trusted to tell the truth and to obey. Grandmother was shaming me with every word she was saying.
She said that if nanny was here instead of helping my mother, she would spank me. I started to cry, because I knew that was very true. Grandmother said that she would just have to do it. I begged her not to.
She took off her gold chain necklace and watch pin, which she placed carefully upon my bureau. Then she closed the two windows in the room and removed her sweater. I had never seen her move with such a deliberate motion. This was no frail grandmother. I backed into the corner, just watching.
From a cabinet that sat on top of the bureau in the back she removed an antique, ivory hairbrush, very smooth on the back. I didn’t even realise it was there, for I didn’t use the very top little drawers of that bureau.
Grandmother reached over, unbuttoned my overalls and slid them to the floor. She asked me to step out of them. Her voice was so gentle, yet cold, that I never thought of protesting from that moment on. She took one leg at a time and took off my sneakers, and then she slid my panties down to my knees. I was embarrassed, but so much in awe of her that I said nothing – just hung my head in shame.
“Do you know what I have to do?” she asked. I nodded. “Do you know why?” I nodded again. She pulled my left arm around so I was facing her right side and then pulled me down over her stockinged knees. I remember the wrinkles around her ankles.
She pressed down on my back and then began to spank me with the brush. It went on for quite a while, so I know I was very rosy on the bottom, but each stroke was not difficult to bear. I had the feeling that she really didn’t want to do this.
My bottom became hotter and hotter and when I knew I had had enough, I cried that it really hurt. She stopped, stood me up and pulled up my panties. I felt my bottom and it was very hot. Grandmother told me I had to stay here in my room until dinner, so after she left the room, I lay on my bed and cried my eyes out. I had such shame.
I dressed for dinner by myself, and when I came down I felt that everyone was looking at me, but no-one said anything. I was told that I could not be alone with Leslie again that summer. I was told that she was too little for me. I think I was relieved, somehow.