The youngest memory I have is a short one. I cannot tell you how old I was, but my mother said I was very little – a young three, perhaps.
I took scissors, as many children do, and gave myself a haircut. I described in one of my earlier accounts that I looked and acted (musician and dancer) a bit like Shirley Temple, but my brother Jeff got the dimples – everyone agrees with that when they see my pictures of that age!
My parents allowed me to join them for the first part of their evening’s entertaining and I would sing, play piano or dance with my father for the guests. I absolutely loved it. Then nanny would take me off to the nursery to read to me and put me to bed.
On this particular day, I took the scissors from the seamstresses’ sewing drawer and climbed up on my knees at the dressing table in my room. As I looked in the mirror, I cut the front and sides of my hair all off. I climbed down, and cleaned all the hair up. I hid it under my bed and replaced the scissors very carefully, returning to the nursery to play.
Nanny came in with the clean laundry and dropped the whole pile right on the bed! “What in the world…?” She left the room quickly, and returned very soon with my mother.
I knew something was wrong, so I got on my bed with my teddy bear and my thumb. My mother was crying. I knew it was about my hair, but I couldn’t understand how they knew – no-one had looked under my bed.
The next thing I knew, I was bare bottomed over someone’s knees being spanked and spanked. I was really crying – I do remember that. I don’t remember who the spanker was, and mother told me later in life that she wasn’t sure herself, because she was so upset. She does recall that I was spanked long and hard on the bare bottom and that she was there.
Nanny got some scissors, and as I sat crying, she trimmed my hair all over, cutting off all the curls. I guess they had to, given the damage I had done. My hair was so curly that as soon as nanny shampooed it, Mother said it looked quite all right…but it was a while before I had my hair-do back.