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The Willow Tree

14 Apr

The following is a story that is very near and dear to my heart, it doesn’t have a happy ending for me, but it is filled with memories.  Decades after the event Mom and I talked about this, and while both of us smiled at the memories, I also reached for my butt.

I was in the 3rd grade when this event happened.  We lived in Easton Maryland, in a sub-division of small homes and they pretty much looked all the same.  Our little house had a huge Weeping Willow in the center of the back yard.  This was a majestic tree, with branches sweeping down and touching the ground.  Underneath this tree was the coolest place in the summer, cool and shaded on the hottest of days and my friends and I could stand upright underneath, it was our not so secret hideaway.  It was a place to relax and cool down after playing ball or a bike ride.  It was a gathering place for the kids in the neighborhood.  And it was as good a place as any to get out of the rain, because it offered so much shelter.  But not someplace you wanted to be during a thunderstorm.  I was surprised where a thunderstorm could come from.

I am sure each of you can remember the roles yours parents play in your ongoing discipline.  Maybe some of you reading this were never a problem, thus never requiring discipline. Most of you most likely experienced some level of discipline as a child. Myself, well, I was one of those children that tested every nerve, every civil bone, and each shred of patience of a parent. As long as I can remember, my parent’s roles were quite defined.  Mom was the disciplinarian, and my Dad was the enforcer, that’s not the saying Mom couldn’t enforce, oh she really could/would when needed.  Sometimes when I really screwed up, my parents would double up on me both fighting for the role of enforcer.

Mom was a career Nurse.  It is the only work she did after she left the farm in south central Kentucky.  She studied nursing at John Hopkins University School of Nursing. She completed her years of study and training and graduated before I was born. With her education and training she could get a job no matter when the family needed to move. This is served her well several times over the years, and also when the family moved to Easton Maryland.  During this period Mom worked 2nd shift (3pm to 11pm).

I had been bad (surprise surprise).  Today I don’t have the faintest clue what my crime had been, but apparently it warranted corporal punishment.  Mom was home, I don’t remember the circumstances, but it was clearly before 3pm, or my mom had the day off, doesn’t matter.  After mom had sustained her role as disciplinarian, she decided that today would be a good day to be the enforcer as well. Mom told me to get a switch from the weeping willow tree in our backyard.  In the best reasoning I could muster (as a 3rd grader) I found the smallest switch I could and gave it to mom. The switch itself as about 2 foot long, as thin as a single strand of spaghetti, it had little tiny branches with a single leafs the entire length, and could have weighed no more than an ounce or two at the most. Mom was not the least bit happy with my choice, but she looked me dead in the eye and said, “You’ll be sorry!” She then used that switch to beat me within an inch of my life. The first time she cracked that switch, and leafs flew from it, I realized I may have made a mistake.  Even before I felt that switch strike my butt that 1st time, the sound of it whistling through the air scared me beyond words. I have never felt anything that provided that level of intense pain since. Hearing and feeling that switch were two entirely separate processes.  After that first strike I immediately went into begging mode, MOM! MOM! MOM! no more! PLEASE NO MORE!! MmmmOooooMmmmmm I’m sorry ! ! ! I will never do it again ! ! !  and I stayed in begging pleading mode throughout the entire beating.  Yes! kids got beating back in the old days. And while I was getting that beating, as my heart raced, as the tears flowed from my eyes like Niagara Falls, I was quite sincere that I wouldn’t do “IT” again, whatever “IT” was. Finally the beating was over (probably less than 10 swats) life went back to normal.  Mom was cool in that she got over anger quickly, and she didn’t hold a grudge (at least not with us kids).

Throughout my blog I have admitted to being dumb, sometimes ignorant, even dim-witted, but I have never claimed or taken credit for being stupid.  I learned my lesson that 1st beating about tiny little switches.   The next time this happened (and yes it happened often) I went out to that Weeping Willy and got the biggest damn stick I could carry, and presented this to mom.  Mom laughed, made me go get a different branch, and still gave me a good beating.  I grew up during the period were spankings and switches were a part of growing up.  Dad was much more physical and I really hated it when Mom was so mad she would say “wait until your Father gets’ home.”

I would like to say that lightning struck that tree, or a tornado came thru and ripped it from the earth, but I can’t.  Most likely, 54 years later, that friggin tree is probably still standing.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post.  If you have any questions, concerns or comments please share them.  Take care, Bill

 
15 Comments

Posted by on April 14, 2013 in Grandpa Stories, Humor, Observations, Ramblings

 

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15 responses to “The Willow Tree

  1. Paula

    April 14, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    This is to funny (not for you at the time but LOL LOL) You did an excellent job telling this story. It brings back a lot of memories. My Mom was the enforcer hers was pulling our hair I surprised any of us kids have any left. I know my brothers had there hair cut real short.
    God bless
    Paula

     
    • FlaHam

      April 15, 2013 at 7:21 pm

      Paula, I am glad that you enjoyed my story, and reliving my pain LOL LOL. I was like your brothers back then I had a buzz cut as well. — Take care, and again thank you. — Bill

       
  2. jmgoyder

    April 15, 2013 at 12:16 am

    OUCH!

     
    • FlaHam

      April 15, 2013 at 7:19 pm

      Julie, yes it was an OUCHIE ! ! Bill

       
  3. Linda

    April 15, 2013 at 10:49 am

    I loved this story Bill You are right back then parents did spank their kids and I can remember a few spankings myself. especially when I pushed my mom into the swimming pool. These spankings don’t bring back bad memories..looking back they are more funny. Did we deserve them, more than likely, but we usually tried to learn a lesson from it I do know kids seemed to respect their elders a lot more than they do today…but I am not going to preach on that subject..smiling…thanks for the wonderful story

     
    • FlaHam

      April 15, 2013 at 4:04 pm

      Linda, Except for the twitch, I turned out okay, LOL LOL LOL. All kidding aside, I could not agree more. Discipline was a real part of our worlds when we were kids. I can remember more than once being given a spanking by a school principal. And of those times I have been spanked either at home or school I would be hard pressed to say I wasn’t guilty 5 pct of the time, at best. Somehow somewhere a generation has lost a sense of respect. Of course it’s not all kids, but a lot more today don’t show and haven’t been taught to respect those folks that came before them. Thank you again for taking the time to visit my blog and enjoy some of my words — take care, Bill

       
  4. The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap

    April 15, 2013 at 11:38 am

    Ouch, but now I’m wondering if you’re my brother. I got the belt and soap. Did you ever find out why you got that beating? And, last but not least, great writing! Hugs, Paulette

     
    • FlaHam

      April 15, 2013 at 3:51 pm

      Paulette, I am 1000 pct sure that at the time of the beating I knew exactly why it was happening, and I will go so far as to say with equal assurance that I was most likely guilty. The lesson I learned that day was that good things didn’t necessarily come in small packages. And to this day the first thing I think of when I see a weeping willow is that beating. Take care, Bill

       
  5. seeker

    April 15, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    Good grief. Yah, I remember that corporal punishment. No trees where I grew up but there’s always the slippers or the hair brush or the bamboo stick. Worse is when they asked us to kneel on the grains of rice with our arms outstretch.

    What a memory you have, you are not so dumb.

     
    • FlaHam

      April 15, 2013 at 7:04 pm

      Seeker, The memory is not as sharp as it once was, but some things are craved into your thought process. When Mom was at her final stages, her short term memory was completely gone. So when I visited, we had the opportunity to relive some of our past experiences, the willow tree was one of those shared moments, 55 years after the fact. Thank you for stopping at my blog and enjoying a couple of my posts. I do appreciate it greatly. Take care, Bill

       
      • seeker

        April 15, 2013 at 7:22 pm

        Hi Bill, you are right. Some things will remain. You are welcome. Perpetua.

         
  6. DeeDee Granata

    April 16, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    Hahaha. Your storytelling is hysterical. I actually never got a spanking from my dad – I was spoiled. But I do remember the one (and only) time my mom took me over her knee. I was mostly amazed that she would really spank me. Not hard. We laugh about it now, but I do remember that feeling of incredulousness (is that a word?). So now you see, I was spoiled like crazy, and I rarely got in trouble . . . until my teenage rebel years, but that’s a different life. Thanks for the laugh.

     
    • FlaHam

      April 18, 2013 at 9:16 pm

      DeeDee, some folks have all the luck. But think of all the growing experience you missed. And you never learned to beg, for plead for mercy. LOL LOL, maybe those are lessons you really didn’t need. I truly enjoy knowing my words have given you a reason to smile. And your smile causes warmth here. Take care, Bill

       
  7. Wanda

    April 22, 2013 at 4:44 am

    Hmmm…I too earned a couple of similar experiences, but the one I remember best (and most bitterly) is one I didn’t deserve.

    Anyway, much as we might now understand the value (?) of 1950s style discipline, isn’t it surprising that most of us did not employ those methods with our own children? And aren’t our kids glad that was the case?!

     
    • FlaHam

      April 22, 2013 at 8:43 am

      Wanda, During the period when I was growing up paddling was an acceptable from of punishment in elementary school, because I was bent over the principals desk more than once. No explanation was given to my mom other than he was misbehaving and therefore punished. I can’t and won’t say Allison was never spanked, yes she was, and hopefully it was deserved each time it happened. She doesn’t seem to be any worst for wear now, some 25 years later. And I know she spanks Cari from time to time. Being honest I am not sure if less formalized discipline is the right answer either. The generation beyond our own kids seems to be totally without discipline, and with it a lack of social conscience. I would never advocate going back to when I was a kid kind of discipline, but on the other hand a total lack of discipline isn’t the answer either. But I will say that military kids seem much more respectful, and much more discipline than non-military kids. Like you I too got more than one spanking I didn’t deserve. According to Mom, Dad sometimes got out of control when it came to administering punishment. Soft smile, what a long winded answer. But I suspect it would be a very good conversation. Take care, Bill

       

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