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Stories My Dad Told, The Worst Lickin’

My father was a plumber and an electrical repairman as well as a general do-it-yourself repairman. He taught me many valuable lessons.

Dad with two of his sisters.

Dad with two of his sisters.

Corporal Punishment

I don’t know how you were raised, but my parents believed in heartfelt corporal punishment. I don’t think I am the poorer for it, nor am I traumatized. And even with the sincere spankings I received, I don’t believe they would compare to the ones my dad spoke of from his father behind the woodshed.

I learned discipline from my father. Not in terms of corporal punishment, but being determined in whatever you do, and sticking with it.

— Ryan Reynolds

Dad's fishing trophy

Dad's fishing trophy

Men Are Private

I admire my father and always have. I wish I had told him more than I did. He worked hard all his life so my mom could be at home with us. That is unusual these days.

My dad wasn’t the kind to just sit us all down and tell a story. I wish he was. We girls had to beg and nag and needle him to get a story out of him. It was always worth the effort because he could tell the best stories. One day we asked him about the spankings he got from his parents.

My dad

My dad

Field Corn

Before telling my dad’s story I need to explain field corn to those of you who may not have been raised like I was. Field corn was NOT the same as sweet corn you buy in the store. Sweet corn has large nibblets full of moisture and sweet flavor. Field corn has small nibblets and little flavor. It is grown mostly for fodder for cows. The harvesters chop the whole plant: stalks, leaves, ears of corn and all. It is chopped fine and fed to cows. Because field corn usually doesn’t pollinate itself as well as sweet corn, the farmers will sometimes plant several rows of sweet corn down the middle of the field corn plot just for pollination. Unless you know where those rows are, you can’t really tell the difference. But I suspect boys looking for fun and a snack don’t really care.

By the way, for those who don’t understand the slang, a “lickin’” is a spanking.

Tired mothers find that spanking takes less time than reasoning and penetrates sooner to the seat of the memory.

— Will Durant

The farmer caught them.

The farmer caught them.

The Worst Lickin’

He got a little twinkle in his eye and the corner of his mouth turned up just a bit before he began this tale.

I’ll never forget the worse lickin’ I ever got from my dad. Me and a friend was out galavantin’ and we passed some ripe field corn. My buddy suggest we make a fire and cook some o’that corn right there nex’ ta the crick in the middle o’ the field. Wayell, since he brung his camp cook kit and since I’m apartial ta fresh corn on the cob, I’m agreeable. But that farmer caught a whiff o’ the smoke and come to investigate. When he com’ a bustin’ through that corn barkin’, “What you kids doin’ thar?” Why, we took ta the hills. But that farmer recognized me and called ma dad.

He was waitin’ for me when I come home. He said we was headed for the woodshed for a talk. Wayell, I didn’t want any o’ that sos I took ta runnin’ with Dad right behind me. I didn’t know where ta run to, so I jus’ run around the block. Mom stood there inside the screen door yellin’ to me as I passed.

“Now, Nelson, you better stop now! You know it’ll jes’ go harder on ya.”

As I rounded the corner I could hear he yellin’ to ma Dad too.

“Now, Clinton, you know ya kaan’t out-run that boy. You better jes’ come on in.”

Each time I heared Dad’s wheezin’ a little closer behind me I would run faster. And each time I heared him puffin’ harder I would slow down some too. I knew I could keep out of his reach as long as I needed to but Mom kep a talkin’ ta me as I passed the house.

“Now, Nelson, you best let heem katch ya. You’re jes’ makin’ heem madder at ya.”

To this day that was the worst beatin’ I ever got. And he wouldn’t a caught me if’n I hadn’t a listened to Mom and stopped.

What kills me is, it was my buddy’s idear an’ his cook kit, an’ that broke-nose never got inta a lick a trouble over it.


My Grandfather, Clinton Scott

To make the story more comical is to picture my grandfather. He was a short rotund man, built like a barrel. Dad always said you could tell he was “on the level” because his bubble was in the middle. All the carpenters out there will get that.

I can still picture that large round man trying to outrun my dad as a young squirt. My impression of him as a teen and preteen was a warm cuddly teddy bear, sitting in his overstuffed chair smoking a pipe that smelled of cherry wood. He was overstuffed himself and cuddly to hug. Living in California and he in Indiana, I didn't get to see him much before he passed at the age of 65. I hope that isn't an omen for all Scotts that they die in their 60s.

My dad with his parents in the 1950s.

My dad with his parents in the 1950s.

Dad himself used to tell a story about one time when Mother went off to fill a lecture engagement and left him in charge at home. When Mother returned, she asked him if everything had run smoothly. Didn't have any trouble except with that one over there,' he replied. 'But a spanking brought him into line.' Mother could handle any crisis without losing her composure. That's not one of ours, dear,' she said. 'He belongs next door.

— Frank B. Gilbreth Jr.

Final Thoughts

I never ran from my dad or mom but there were a few times I thought about it. I was never in THAT much trouble that I couldn’t talk about it. Even if I was guilty, I got to have my say.

I hope you liked this story. It is a bit of a challenge to put Dad’s accent and inflection into the story but that was part of his charm.

Please, let me know your thoughts and stories on corporal punishment in the comments below.

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