Most of you have already heard about the Texas judge who beat his daughter with a belt for downloading songs from the Internet. Like most of you, this judge's cruelty and barbarity towards his daughter sickened and disgusted me. I wasn't going to post my reaction to this because I like to keep my blog postings light and happy but I feel compelled to say something.
The judge reminded me of my father. Yes, my father used to beat me and my brothers with a belt just like this judge beat the hell out of his daughter. Perhaps the only difference was that he didn't use the "F" word but he did use plenty of "Goddamn you kids!" The other difference was that we weren't beaten for downloading songs from the Internet. The best I can remember we were beaten because he either made too much noise in the adjoining bedroom. My brothers and I slept were in the same bedroom and slept in the same bed until I was 16 years old at which time I asked for my own bed which I got for Christmas (a folding bed).
Some of the other reasons why he beat us was if we didn't weed enough rows of corn or do proper weeding. The worst beating I ever got was when I was caught playing with matches. It was so bad I can't even remember the actual event but I do clearly remember my Mother telling me "Wait until your father gets home, I'm telling him." I remember being so scared that I had trouble breathing. My mind has blocked out the actual beating. However, I do remember, even to this day, the palpable fear knowing that I was going to get a good beating with his belt. I will say one thing though, he never beat us with the buckle. I guess we should be thankful for that.
I had no way to fight back agains the beatings except not to cry. That would make him even angrier. When I found out that I had that "weapon", I refused to cry when he beat me with a belt. Mind you, my "infractions", except for the playing with matches, were never serious. I remember one other time I got a beating. I had spent a couple of weeks in the summer visiting relatives their farm in the country (we lived in town). At breakfast I was served with eggs, bacon and butter on my toast. I made an innocent comment "I never get butter and eggs at home." I wasn't saying it to be disrespectful of my father, it was just a happy comment I made in appreciation for the different kind of breakfast I got from my hosts. At home the rule was we kids age margarine and only my father was allowed to eat butter. It wasn't a big deal to us unless we got caught eating his butter. Then of course we got a beating. Well, when the comment was passed back to my father from my host, I got a good beating for "embarrassing him." He told me I was lucky to get anything to eat. One of his favorite sayings was "I brought you into this world and I can take you out."
Now mind you, I wasn't a bad kid. In fact I was a pretty good kid. I was very shy and timid (unlike now) and always avoided trouble. But with "Pop", sometimes trouble found me and my brothers.
The beatings, except for the time I got beat for playing with matches, never caused any significant physical injuries, for which I probably should be thankful. As I entered my teens and I complained to my Mother about the beatings, she told me "You father has scars on his back from the beatings his father used to give him." So I guess I should have counted myself lucky that he never left scars.
My Mother was also subjected to beatings as she grew up. This is ironic because she came from a completely different culture than my father. My father's family emigrated from the hillbilly hills of western North Carolina in the late 1920's to southeastern Pennsylvania. My Mother's family was from Quaker roots in southeastern Pennsylvania. Apparently both cultures believed in beating their children into submission.
My Mother often told me the story of how she got beat once because when she was cooking potatoes for mashed potatoes. She was only twelve years old at the time but she was expected to cook dinner for her father, bothers and sisters and step-mother - her mother died when she wasn't quite two years old - yes, she had a Cinderalla like childhood. When her father ("Grandpop") came home and found that the potatoes weren't cooked yet because the potatoes were cut too big, he went into his bathroom and got his razor strap and returned to the kitchen to grab her quivering arm and beat the hell out of her, in full view of the whole family just to "make an example" to his other children, as Grandpop liked to say.
Another time she got beat (she was 14 years old this time) because she didn't come home soon enough after being sent to the corner grocery store. Just as she left the store with the provisions for dinner, a thunderstorm poured down on her. She sought shelter under a lamppost until the rain let up. After the rain let up (about ten minutes) she continued her journey home. Because she was late with dinner, Grandpop got out his razor strap again and gave her a good shellacking.
Then there were the times that something happened and my father didn't know who did it and we wouldn't tell. Those times he would beat all of us. My Mother said Grandpop used to do the same thing to his children, "Just to make sure I got the right one."
I grew up in the Fifties. I remember hearing about "spankings." Ha! I wish I had just got a "spanking." Oh no, when "Pop" got mad, he got his belt out and gave it to us good. Being a kid in this days; the Fifties when I was growing up and the Twenties and early Thirties when my Mother was growing up; beatings were just part of the growing up procedure. Sure, I knew a lot of my friends and classmates at school didn't get beat like we did. I was embarrassed that we got beat so I didn't say anything about it. It was the Big Dark Secret.
I am so thankful now that this video has surface of the judge beating his daughter. It is horrible to watch and I apologize for posting it but I think it is time that this country and this culture look for a different way to discipline their children.
I remember vividly one time my father almost beat one of his dogs to death because it had killed some of his chickens. He had a chicken pen with about 45 chickens. He put one of his young dogs near the pen to "guard" the chickens. Well, this dog didn't know he was supposed to "guard" the chickens. Shortly after my father placed his dog near the chicken pen, the dog got loose and killed some of his chickens. My father got home from work and found out and beat that dog with a stick until the dog couldn't stand. Of course the dog didn't know what he was being beating for. And from that day on, the dog would shake like a leaf anytime my father came near him. He eventually gave the dog away because he wasn't a good "guard" dog. Do you think? I wonder why.
I could tell some other horrendous stories but I think I made my point.
Watching this video of the judge beating his daughter brought back all the bad old memories that I have long buried. All the horrible memories.
This is one reason why I am grateful for the new Internet age where these cruelties can be exposed and hopefully our culture will change. From cops beating the hell out of an already subdued prisoner to a babysitter beating a child or a caregiver beating an invalid elderly person, the New Age of the Internet and the all pervasive video will expose this barbaric activity to the civilized people of our culture and barbarism will stop.
|Me on my father's shoulders - 1942|