Nanny was very strict and often followed up on a parental punishment with one of her own. We were raised in a wealthy family in a large (28 room) mansion, so the children’s quarters were separate from the places where the adults entertained.
Under the large dining room table, there was a button on which my mother could step to silently call the maid during dinner. It was under the rug. The large white table cloth hung way down to the floor, so I could get underneath without being seen.
I loved being with the guests, and I performed – a bit like Shirley Temple. I looked something like her, except that I had no dimples – my brother Jeff got those. I would play the piano for the company, and then Nanny would take us up to the nursery for toast and cocoa before bath and bed. We also had a story read to us at that time.
Mom and dad were having a dinner party one evening when I was five. I enjoyed the company for a while, and then was sent up with nanny after performing for the guests. It was very difficult to leave them, for I received far too much attention for my own good. I had my bath, was undressed and then told to pick out a story while my brother was being bathed.
Instead, I sneaked down the back staircase and shot through the pantry to the dining room. The guests were in the parlour finishing their cocktails – just about to enter the dining room.
I quickly crawled under the table and scooted up to the far end where the silent floor buzzer was. I leaned on it with both hands, as hard as I could. The door opened from the pantry, and the maid stepped into the dining room. She looked around and then went back through the door.
The guests came in. I was totally amused under the table. Mom sat down and after everyone was seated, the pantry door opened and the maids began serving dinner. They knew just when to come in and out. Just as they left, I leaned hard on the buzzer near my mother’s foot.
In came the maid. “Yes, madam?” she said. “I didn’t call you,” my mother whispered. “The buzzer rang, madam,” she replied. Then she left again. No sooner was she gone than I did it again.
I was laughing hysterically now, although silently. In came the maid, and the whole routine repeated itself. My mother was getting annoyed at the maid, and the maid was getting frustrated. This happened about five or six times.
Then, as my mother looked at my father helplessly, he came over to her side and bent down to look under the table. There I was, stifling a laugh. He hauled me out of there.
I was a real sensation. The guests were roaring and I fell apart with laughter. My parents were trying to laugh, but I guess they didn’t find it as funny as I thought they would. Nanny was summoned. She was filled with apology, and she had Jeff in her arms, all in his pyjamas with carefully combed, wet hair. She took me from my father and led me up the stairs to the nursery.
Once inside, she closed and locked the door, placing the key in her pocket. She put Jeff in his bed in his adjoining room and took me across the playroom to my door. Inside we went, and she closed the door.
On top of my bureau was a stick, which nanny had brought with her. She had intended to hang it in my room, because I was learning to read. It said ‘Board of Education’ on it. I didn’t know it was there, and I had never seen it before. She told me that she was going to explain what it was and what it was for. I still hadn’t caught on.
There was an armchair in the room, near the window, where she would read to me sometimes, but this time she laid me over the arm, with my knees on the seat of the chair. Then she came around in front of me and told me that this was a ‘spanking stick’ for naughty little girls.
I knew what a spanking was! I felt the fear flash right to my toes. With one hand in the small of my back, Nanny brought that stick down several times on my fanny. I jumped every time. I was really crying by this time.
She stood me up on the chair so that I was nose-to-nose with her, shook me a bit, and said that I had done a very naughty thing by disobeying her and embarrassing my parents like that. She said that I deserved a good spanking.
With that, she took me to a regular, desk chair and placed me over her aproned lap. She pulled my nightie up over my back and raised my buttocks high by lifting one knee slightly.
With that ‘Board of Education’, she proceeded to light into my bare backside again and again. I was crying so hard that I couldn’t catch my breath. I thought I was going to suffocate – I had never experienced such pain.
After what seemed like eternity, she stood me up. I collapsed onto the carpet, dissolved in tears and rubbing my bottom. Nanny put the dreaded stick back on the bureau. Then she told me to get into bed. There would be no toast and cocoa for me, no story and I would have to face my parents in the morning.
I put my thumb in my mouth and clutched my teddy bear and dolly with the lace dress. I sobbed and sobbed. Nanny left the room and left the door open to the playroom. I heard her unlock the nursery door, and I heard my mother come into the room. She and Nanny talked softly there for a few minutes, and then Mom came into my room.
She pulled back the covers, lifted my nightie and rubbed her soft hands over my red bottom. Then she pushed a pillow under my groin area, lifting my buttocks back into the air.
“Gigi, you were very naughty tonight. You disobeyed daddy, mommy and nanny. You are in a punishment time now. I am very angry at you.” Then she gave me five soft spanks on my bare buttocks. “Daddy is going to spank you too, so stay right there!”
I was really scared, because daddy’s spanks were harder than mommy’s. I waited. Nanny stood my up by the window, and daddy came in. Mommy had gone back to the guests.
“Gigi, this was a very bad thing, you know.” “I know, I know!” I said in tears. He sat in the armchair, put me over his knees, lifted my nightie, and gave me five medium spanks on my bare behind. Then he carried me to bed and kissed me goodnight.
My memory of this is coloured by what others have told me over the years. I guess it is a family story that won’t die out quickly. I am 56 now and remember it as though it were yesterday.