When one lives in a house of servants, one must respect the work and turf of each person as being almost sacred.
Servants are professionals, deserving all of the respect due to anyone in such a role. We were raised never to interfere with the work of any servant, never to be rude or demanding, always to address them politely, and never to give a counter request (calling them away from the direction of someone else – like a parent).
During the Second World War, we had a ‘Victory Garden’, as did most of our neighbours. We grew our own vegetables, and even had some ducks and chickens. The gardener, Mr Jamison, kept this with pride and supplied cook well. He and Suzanne (our maid, who knew how to do this) slaughtered the chickens and ducks, which kept the oven roasting wonderful meals.
One day, when I was five and Jeff was four, mother told me that the gardener had to go to Boston to see his mother. Apparently she was ill. He would be there for a couple of days, so it would be all right for Jeff and I to assist Suzanne with the animals. Nothing was mentioned about the garden.
We enjoyed the work with the animals very much, having visited them regularly anyway. We had rabbits that were obtained so that Jeff and I could learn about the ‘birds and the bees’ – but the rabbits were unproductive. The family joke was that my mother became pregnant!
Jeff and I finished helping Suzanne with the animals and decided to remain outside while she returned to her indoor duties. We took a look at the garden and decided to assist there too. We went to the tool house and took some trowels and garden forks.
Down the rows, we went to ‘weed’. We took out about ten rows and stopped to rest, deciding that being a gardener was really hard work. We went in for a drink of water, and then returned to our job.
How hard we worked, ripping out vines that were tangled and pulling up ‘weeds’ row by row. We spent a good part of the morning doing this. We were called in for lunch, and decided to return to the garden to finish the work in the afternoon to surprise the gardener when he returned the next morning.
It took us all afternoon but we had that really cleaned out by tea time, when we heard nanny call us for baths. We put away the tools and went in feeling filled with satisfaction. We had our baths, tea, playtime, dinner, story, and then off to bed, falling asleep almost immediately – we were so tired.
The next morning, we were up and dressed when Suzanne rushed in to the nursery. Nanny was with us. Suzanne was in a frenzy. Something dreadful had happened to the Victory Garden and all of the vegetables were ruined. Cook would have virtually nothing with which to work now.
Jeff and I looked at each other in horror. Nanny looked at us, and said: “Weren’t you two weeding yesterday?” We nodded, our lips trembling. Mother came in with fury in her eye. “What have you two done?” she said sharply. We told her how hard it was to get those weeds all out and how hard we worked etc.
“Who told you that it was OK to do all that?” mother demanded. “No-one. We were just trying to help,” we said, pleading our case.
“You naughty, naughty children!,” mother replied. We have no more vegetables. Wait until Mr Jamison gets back and sees what you have done – he will want to spank you himself!”
Jeff and I backed away slowly. There was nowhere to go. “Nanny will punish you both, and then you will go to Mr Jamison and tell him how sorry you are that you ruined his garden. After that, you will go and tell cook how sorry you are that the good vegetables are all gone now. How could this have happened?” Mother held her head down and left the room.
Nanny said: “All right, you two, let’s get to it. Who will be first?” Of course, neither of us answered. Why would we volunteer for the slaughter?
“OK, then, lassie. Off to the corner with you. Jeff will be first.” That was not quite what Jeff had in mind! He sat right down on the floor and burst into tears. When nanny tried to pick him up, he dug in and wouldn’t budge. She left him there and went to get her ‘spanking stick’ – the one that said ‘Board of Education’ on it.
“Get up, Jeff”, Nanny said, slapping his leg with the stick. He scooted backwards but she slapped at his leg again. “Get up, laddie – now!” Jeff got up on to his feet quickly, and just as quickly nanny was unbuttoning his overalls and sliding them down.
She pulled his underwear down as well and placed him face down over that clean, crisp, white apron she always wore. Immediately, the blows from the ‘Board of Education’ fell upon his bare bottom and Jeff was howling! I didn’t think nanny was ever going to stop.
Then she stood him up and led him, shuffling with pants down, to the bathroom where he urinated. I could hear him urinating and crying. The toilet flushed and there were a couple more sharp hand slaps to bare skin – I don’t now where, because I was in the playroom.
Jeff was still crying hard. When they returned to the playroom, he was dressed again. He dropped to the floor, knees to his chest, buried his face in his hands and cried his eyes out. I wanted to hold him but there was no time for that – Nanny had a hold of me now.
She unbuttoned the straps of my corduroy overalls and pulled them down to my knees, where they stuck. She left them there and went back for my panties, which quickly joined the overalls. Over the white apron I went and soon I was experiencing the ‘Board of Education’ as well.
That stick was amazing. It fitted everywhere and nanny didn’t miss a spot. When she had finished, I was reduced to a bawling baby. She dressed me again, and I ran to the refuge of my bed, my thumb and my teddy bear.
Nanny was having none of it. “Come one, you two – your mother told you about the apologies. Let’s go now.” Off we went with nanny, one on each side of her. Cook was really disappointed but Mr Jamison was devastated. I felt terrible. I didn’t know how to fix it. He told me that I should be spanked, and Nanny told him that we both had been spanked.
Mr Jamison said that was good. He told us that the growing season was now too far gone to do another planting of most things. We would have to wait until next year.
That is one of the times when I think I needed more than one spanking to have relieved my guilt…