sequence

Archived Story

Daddy’s discipline was never in doubt

Published 10:46pm Friday, June 15, 2012

Why a child would be taught fractions in the first grade, I did not know until the need was exhibited to me.

In the grocery store, a young dad was giving his little boy to the count of three to put a bag of candy back on the shelf.

“ One, twoooo … two and a fourth … two and a half … two and three quarters …” Evidently, the little fellow knew his fractions because, just at that point, he threw the candy back on the shelf and took off running to the back of the store.

I’m sure he got more practice with fractions back in the meat department.

I couldn’t help but think about my daddy. If he could count to three, I never heard him do it. He didn’t have to count.

I knew without asking what his answer would be. So, I did little asking and, when I did ask, the answer was final. No, “pleeeease.” No whining. No pouting. No sulking.

When Daddy said no, he meant no. There were no ifs, ands and buts about it.

Mama kept a switch on the top of the refrigerator where she could get to it in a hurry and she hurried a lot. Back then, child abuse had not been defined.

Mama went by the Bible. She didn’t spare the rod or the peach tree switch.

But, the Good Lord gave Daddy “the look” so he didn’t need a switch. One look from Daddy straightened me up in a hurry.

Daddy only spanked me one time and it broke my heart.

My grandmother and aunt were visiting us from Eufaula and we were all in the living room listening to the radio –all except Daddy. He didn’t like hillbilly music. So he was just sitting in “his” chair reading the newspaper.

Mama had just bought new slipcovers for the sofa and matching chair. The came from the mail order catologue. The slipcovers were gray with crimson, gold and dark blue flowers. They were real pretty and she was proud of them.

I was on the sofa playing paper dolls and listening to the radio and everybody talking. Now, when you are 6 years old and get a call to the potty, you don’t always go.

I was having way too much fun to stop playing and run to the bathroom. Besides it was cold in our little bathroom that was a hang-on to the house.

I waited too long and there was no way to hide the big wet spot on Mama’s new slip covers, not after it made its way to where my granny was sitting on the other end of the sofa. Why she had to jump up and holler, I don’t know.

And, why Daddy thought that he could remedy the situation by whacking me on my little wet bottom with the newspaper in front of all my blood and kin, I don’t know.

I tried to keep my lip from trembling but I couldn’t. I couldn’t keep the tears from streaming down my cheeks either.

Mama primped up to cry. My granny went to put on “fresh” clothes. Aunt Eleanor took the slipcover off the sofa and I was sent to the bedroom to study on what I had done.

Later that night, Daddy came in and set me on his lap for a little while.

I think that was the only time I ever sat on his lap.

So, I guess, getting whipped with the newspaper was worth it after all.

Jaine Treadwell is features editor of The Messenger. She can be reached at jaine.treadwell@troymessenger.com.

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