I was never switched when growing up – but I certainly knew kids who were. One, a girl named Rebecca – Becky for short – had parents who whipped her with a hickory switch.
One day, I was out playing with some of the other neighbourhood kids when all of a sudden a car pulled up outside a block of apartments. Becky, her mom and her dad immediately got out of the car, both parents with very stern faces. Becky, by contrast, had a look of absolute fear and dread on hers.
As they went through the communal entrance of their apartment block, I heard Becky’s father announce: “You have earned yourself a whipping with the hickory switch, young lady! Your Mother will take you upstairs to get you ready.” Becky immediately began to plead with her father: “Please, Daddy, no – not the switch! I beg you, not the switch!”
At this point her mother noticed the around half a dozen of us kids congregated outside. She turned to us with a face like thunder and told us in no uncertain terms: “If you kids know what’s good for you, you will disappear from here – do you understand?” “Yes, Ma’am,” we all responded in unison. In those days (this particular event took place in July 1966), a child would never dare to answer back to an adult, or question their authority.
We quickly dispersed but a minute or so later, when we judged the coast to be clear, we quietly returned, keeping our voices down as we did so. None of us wanted to miss out on hearing one of our contemporaries get a whipping! Every kid in that little gang got their bottom warmed occasionally, and at some time or other we had nearly all provided ‘entertainment’ for our comrades when we got our own butts spanked or whopped. It was always satisfying when it was someone else’s behind getting blistered!
The Hendersons lived on the second floor of the apartment block and fortunately for us, the windows of the rooms looking out on to the street were already open. As I say, this was the height of summer and in our community air conditioning was a luxury most people could still not afford.
Before long voices could be heard from the Henderson apartment with Becky’s mom telling her daughter in a firm, stern voice: “You were told not to hang around with those kids and go to that part of the neighbourhood. Now, lie over the bed and get ready for the switch.”
There was a minute pause, then Becky’s mom exploded: “I said now, Rebecca Susan Henderson!” There was more tearful pleading from Becky and more stern admonishments from her mother.
Then Mr Henderson must have entered his daughter’s bedroom. We heard him say: “Young lady, you will learn to obey your mother and father and do as you are told!”
There was a brief silence, apart from a little bit of sobbing from Becky, then there was then a faint swishing sound, followed by an extremely loud, high-pitched and plaintive wail. “Please, Daddy! No!”
Becky’s futile plea for mercy was cut short as the switch delivered another agonising stroke, producing another ear-splitting wail from the little girl. In all, Becky must have got about a dozen more licks with that switch. She howled, sobbed and begged for mercy throughout the whole ordeal.
When it was finally over, Becky’s mom told her: “You will remain in your bedroom until dinner. When you come down when I call it, bring your pillow – you’re going to need it.”
We listened to Becky’s sobbing for a little longer, then decided to beat it. We knew that had we been caught eavesdropping, our own little bare bottoms would very likely be next!
Initially, we had all smirked as we listened to Becky’s whipping but after three or four licks we just felt sorry for her and the expressions on our faces changed to ones of sympathy rather than gloating. After all, everyone of us knew how much spankings and whippings hurt.
I have to say, Becky’s whipping had to be one of the most severe I ever overheard – the little girl’s reaction to it bore testament to its severity.
I found out later that my own mother had spoken to Mrs Henderson not long after Becky’s punishment. Mrs Henderson told my mother that her daughter ‘l later from my own Mom, via a conversation she had had with Mrs Henderson, that Becky had trouble sitting comfortably for a few days, and the marks on her buttocks took the best part of three weeks to fully disappear.
Mrs Henderson added that Becky’s behaviour and attitude had improved ‘remarkably’ in the weeks following that dose of the switch.