My mother did not spank us boys much.  She was pretty slow for one thing and not at all given to physical exertion of any kind.  I don’t think she thought it was ladylike.  But in the summers especially, she always kept a switch, which she would occasionally ineffectually apply, on top of the refrigerator.

Sometimes, if we were not acting in ways to her liking, she would take down the switch and say, “My, but this switch is old and all dried out.  This won’t do.  I want you boys to go out right now and get me a proper switch.”  Something about going out to get the instrument of your own destruction really upset me. So we would go out and get and switch, and she would look at it and say, “This is not a proper switch.  It’s not long enough and it’s all dried out.”  Or:  “It’s spring. Aren’t there some switches out there with buds on them?  They really sting don’t they?”  So we would have to go out and get a switch with nice little green buds on it.

The worst for me though was when I did something that bothered her and she would say, “Just you wait till your father gets home.”  A good portion, but not always—sometimes she would just forget she had said it—this meant I would get a whipping.  If she said this late in the day, it wasn’t so bad, because my father would be getting home soon and the whole thing would be over one way or another.  But sometimes, she would say it early in the day, and just thinking about him coming home to beat me would ruin my whole day.

One day, when this happened, something got into me and I climbed up a tree.  I had not thoroughly thought out my plan, but it seemed to be that if he wanted to whip me he was going to have to get me.  I was a good tree climber and got myself pretty far up a nearby tree. But I had not timed my climbing well and so had to sit there two hours before he came home.

I heard the car and he entered through the front.  But nothing happened.  Instead I heard the sounds of the table being set.  And then quiet.  They must have been eating.  I felt really hungry and knew I was licked.  Climbing up a tree is not a good escape plan.  I climbed down and went into the kitchen.  My father just laughed at me; and my mother she I had punished myself sufficiently.

I had to eat my dinner cold.  But I didn’t get a beating.  I thought that was a pretty good trade off.

Though my whole day had been ruined.

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