The family paddle

I grew up in Texas during the 1960s, and my parents were traditional Southern Baptists.  Life for me and my brothers and sisters revolved around church, chores and family.  Our lives were governed by a strict Christian morality forbidding alcohol, smoking, gambling and even inappropriate dancing. 

Spanking was a central and Biblically-endorsed part of our upbringing, as it was for just about everybody I knew.  Hanging above the family Bible in the living room was the family paddle – a small cherrywood instrument with four small, neatly-drilled holes, evenly spaced along its ‘business end’. 

It resembled a large hairbrush without the bristles – and of course, those added airholes gave it more velocity.  It stung like the devil, believe me, and it was purposely designed for over-the-knee spankings. 

Discipline was administered in the living room where the offender had their bottom bared and was then put over Mom or Dad’s knee. The parent would be sitting on a straight-backed chair, and administer what was always referred to as a ‘good old-fashioned spanking’. 

The spankings were frequently administered in front of an audience so as to be a lesson all the family and boy, did they ever hurt! Ten cracks of the paddle was not unusual, rising to sometimes 15 or even 20 swats, depending on the nature of the offence.  In the case of longer spankings, blistered bottoms were not unusual.

Myself, my two sisters and two brothers were all subjected to spankings well into our late teens.  It may seem incredible to young people today and even be considered abuse – but back in 1960s Texas, the South generally and the Midwest also, it was far from being an out of the ordinary punishment for children. 

Whatever the rights and wrongs of it from a modern perspective, we respected our elders, minded our manners and behaved ourselves. Different times!

Contributor: Simon

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