At grandmother’s summer home in Maine, we were by the ocean. At the foot of the hill, down from the house, were five small beaches where we all learned to swim and where we spent many happy hours building sandcastles.
There was also a long pier with a runway and float, for my grandparents had friends who travelled by boat to visit with them. We were not allowed out on the pier without an adult.
At the beginning of the pier was an old grey wooden box, which contained cod lines all wound up on spools. These were ‘drop lines’ – no reels or poles. One simply held them over the gunnels of a boat or railing of a pier and let them fall into the water below. They usually had sinkers attached, for they were going after bottom food. We got flounder on some of the smaller ones.
I had a red one-piece bathing suit when I was five and I wore old sneakers that I used for clamming. I was playing in one of the beaches while Nanny and Jeff were with me. Jeff wanted to go up to the house, so Nanny started to take him there. She encouraged me to join them, but I wanted to finished my castle.
“Now listen, lassie,” Nanny warned, “you stay right here on this beach, or come up to the house.” I nodded absent-mindedly. She left with Jeff. It was funny to see her in casual clothing, for she was always so carefully dressed in starched outfits and white aprons.
I saw some seaweed on some rocks nearby, and I thought it would make wonderful thatched roofs for my village. I climbed up out of my beach and pulled at the seaweed just over on the other side of the rocks. My eye spotted the pier. I had never been down here alone before and I was feeling extremely grown-up.
Carefully, I opened the fishing line box and took out a line. I held the railings and walked carefully the full length of the pier and down the gangway to the float. The tide was high, so the gangway was nearly level.
When I got there, the gentle swaying of the float caused me some concern, so I lay down on my stomach and peeked over the edge of the float, looking down into the deep water. The sun felt warm and soft on my back, and the sound of the waves lapping on the sides of the float was hypnotic. I became very drowsy.
I must have fallen asleep – but a splash woke me. There was a seal near and studying me. I just watched until he disappeared under the water and was gone. I must have drifted off again. It was a wonderful place.
Suddenly, a hand slipped around my waist and lifted me up. I was so sleepy that I was dizzy. It was Nanny. “What are you doing out here? I told you to stay on the beach!” She set me down and held my hand carefully as I was ushered ahead of her back to land. I told her about the seal and how beautiful the wave sounds were, but Nanny wouldn’t discuss it.
Apparently, she had seen me lying on the float while up at the house, and had nearly broken her neck racing down the long hill to rescue me from the float.
She plopped herself on a fallen log and put me over her knees. Then she pulled the bottom of my bathing suit up high to reveal each of my little buttocks, and she began to spank each side again and again, back and forth.
It was so awful that I cried out in absolute shock. I had been having such a glorious time, and here things had gone to worms so suddenly.
I was kicking my feet but Nanny just lifted me up by the fabric of my bathing suit and the legs would go down automatically. She pulled the suit up as high as she could, in order to get at my thighs. It worked!
All the time, I was getting a lecture about being forbidden to be on that pier or float in the first place. When Nanny had finished with me, she slapped my bottom all the way up the hill to the house. I came up on the back porch in tears.
Grandmother came out of the dining room and asked what was wrong. When she heard, she said that she was frightened just to hear about this.She began in on me as well about being only five years old and on the float alone. She reached up on the wall just outside the door of the kitchen and took down an old strap. It was one grandfather had once used on my uncles as children. I backed away.
Grandmother took my arm and turned me so that my bottom would be an easy target. She gave me several slaps with that belt. They really smarted. Nanny was not happy about that but she said nothing – I think she felt I had been punished enough.
She took me upstairs, undressed me and prepared me for tea, When I said that I didn’t want to go, she told me that she understood, but that the whole family gathered at teatime, and I would have to be there.
Of course, grandmother told everyone at tea about what I had done. In fact, my parents were upset with Nanny, I found out as an adult – today, I think she is the one that should have been spanked, not me.