The story of Ass Whippin’s
By: Garland Davis
Growing up, I was the oldest in the family of three boys and one girl. The sociologists will tell you that an older sibling will take a leadership position among the other children. A male sibling will attempt to emulate the father while a female as an older sibling will try to act as a mother would. That emulating the father thing didn’t really work for me. My dad had one position when it came to child rearing. He figured that an ass whippin’ was always needed in almost every situation. I tried that tact with my brothers and, of course, they fought back which resulted in ass whippin’s all around.
Instead of being a sibling leader, I was more of a scapegoat. They learned early on, that if my dad became upset with something we did or something they did, they could lessen the severity or possibly remove the threat of an ass whippin’ by blaming it all on me.
I remember once, they were hitting a baseball toward the house and broke a window. I didn’t know about it. I arrived home just before Dad came home from work. They asked me if I wanted to play. Having dreams of making the baseball team when I started high school, I jumped at the chance. They offered to let me bat. There I was with the bat in my hand as dad pulled into the driveway. As soon as they saw him they ran leaving the ball by the broken window. Result: ass whippin’ for the guy with the bat in his hand.
Even when I had been up to no good and gotten away with it, they would jump at the chance to shine the light of truth on my shortcomings. There was the incident of the Billy goat. The doctor had prescribed goat’s milk for my grandmother so my dad came home one Saturday morning with three or four nanny goats and a Billy. Look up worthless in the dictionary and you will see a picture of a Billy goat. I can tell you, they really get pissed if you cut their beards off. Ass whippin’ for that one. But that isn’t the story I am trying to tell.
I had seen a TV show where the hero roped a wild bull and saved the damsel. I had a rope which I fashioned into a lasso. I was roping anything I could. My brothers went along for a while. They would run and I would chase them swinging my loop and try to rope them. Finally, one of them said, “Why don’t you try to catch the Billy goat.”
Now this seemed like a good idea to me. I chased after the goat trying to swing the loop. He would either outrun me or turn and chase me. I came up with a brilliant plan. I would tie the rope to a fence post and my brothers could chase ole Billy past me and I would rope him. Fantastic plan! They got ole Billy up to a dead run and as he approached I swung the loop and floated it out toward his head. Now I tell you, neither Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, nor Hopalong Cassidy ever threw a more perfect loop. Right over ole Billy’s head. He hit the end of that rope at a dead run; his feet flew out from under him; bam he hit the ground and didn’t move. Stone cold dead.
We knew we were dead too when daddy found out. I gathered the rope and hid it in the barn. We ran off and volunteered to hoe mama’s garden, trying to build up as much good will as possible before the storm hit.
Right on time daddy came home from work. We had a routine, as soon as he got home we would go to the barn, milk the cow and goats, clean the stalls and feed them and the pigs. We dreaded going to the barn. Dad was in a hurry as usual and rushed us toward our doom. As we turned the corner of the barn, we saw ole Billy standing out there eating grass. I was suddenly convinced that prayers were answered and vowed to be more attentive in Sunday School. And of course, one of my brothers had to say, “Ole Billy don’t look too bad, I really thought Buster (my nickname) had killed him with that lasso.” Then the story came out how I had threatened to beat them with the rope if they didn’t run him by me so I could lasso him. They told how I had threatened them if they told on me. You guessed it, I got the ass whippin’.
When my brothers knew they were in for an ass whippin’, they attempted to lessen the severity by including me in whatever they had been up to. The tobacco Hornworm is the larval stage of the Carolina sphinx moth. It is a large green worm that can grow as large as two and a half to three inches long with a girth of an inch. It plays in the story of how an innocent act on my part ended up with me included in the nefarious deed and the punishment.
Most farm boys in my area hated ‘Show and Tell’ in school. We didn’t have anything to show or tell about. We all lived on farms and had seen all the farm stuff. So we had to be inventive. I remember one spring a classmate brought a set of pig testicles. They were castrating pigs that morning and he was desperate for something for show and tell. Needless to say, he probably got the ass whippin’ that time.
I was working after school and on weekends for one of the tobacco farmers in our area for nickels and dimes. Kept me in the latest Superman and Bat-Man comics. One brother asked me to bring him a couple of tobacco worms (known colloquially as “Backer Worms”) for show and tell. I caught three or four and put them in a bag with part of a tobacco leaf and gave them to him.
The next morning at school my two brothers and a couple of other idiots were chasing girls around the playground threatening to put the worms in their hair. The principle gave all four of them an ass whippin’ and sent a note home to Mama by way of the school bus driver. By the time daddy got home from work, the story had morphed into how I had brought them all these Backer Worms and told them it was fun to put them in the girls’ hair. Result, you guessed it, ass whippin’.
They never missed an opportunity and would tell on me at the most public and embarrassing times. In a couple of other stories, I have mentioned the Rising girls. They were four sisters who lived about a quarter of a mile down the road. Two were older than me the third was the same age and one younger.
It was a Saturday morning. My dad and uncle had went hunting early and arrived back home about eight. Mama and my aunt had breakfast ready as they came home and we all sat down to eat. That’s when the younger brother says, “Me and Johnny was playin’ in the hayloft yesterday evening (evening in the part of the country I grew up in is any time between noon and dark) and Buster and Sylvie come in. They was kissin’ and huggin’ and he stuck his hand in her britches.” Well, by this time, I am probably redder than a pickled beet. Mama gets all upset and tells daddy, “I want you to whip that dirty boy.”
I heard my dad say to my uncle, sotto voce, “I ain’t gonna whup the boy for that.”
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A native of North Carolina, Garland Davis has lived in Hawaii since 1987. He always had a penchant for writing but did not seriously pursue it until recently. He is a graduate of Hawaii Pacific University, where he majored in Business Management. Garland is a thirty-year Navy retiree and service-connected Disabled Veteran.