The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

The Hardest Whipping

By Gene Henderson © 1986

Issue: August, 1986

When I was a small boy about eight years old, I went down to the swimming hole in the creek to swim with two friends about the same age as me.

After we went swimming, I went down to their house for a while. Their older brother owned a country store in the same building they lived in. It was a great big building. My two friends had a bad name of stealing from their brother's store.

There was a punch board in the store. Chances were three cents. I took one chance and won a can of Prince Albert Smoking Tobacco. My friends' sister-in-law, who was working in the store, suggested I swap the tobacco for enough cloth to make a shirt. It sounded like a good deal to me so I traded.

I rushed home to show it to my mother, very proudly. She took one look and said, "Oh, yes! You've been stealing with Emory and Herbert out at Thomas' Store. We'll march down there and take it back right now, along with a whipping."

It was three-quarters of a mile down there, and I think she hit me every step of the way. She used hickory and birch and any other kind of switch laying down along-side the road.

When we got down there, the lady in the store explained that I had won it legally and it was mine. My mother put her arms around me and said she loved me. She said that anything I got into for the rest of the day she wouldn't give me a whipping for.

Taking advantage of that, I went up to my aunt's house. I went out to the apple orchard and I cut a long stick, sharpened it at the end until I could stick it in an apple easily and threw the apples towards the windows of my aunt's house. I broke three of the windows.

When my dad came home and found out what had happened, he took a strip of wood about four feet long, two inches wide and one inch thick. He gave me a whipping that I'll never forget.

My feelings toward my mother and dad were just wonderful. I have loved them from the time I was born to now. They were good parents - hardworking and strict. They did the best they could with what they had.