A Whupin'
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 by Frank Shortt
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His face was as red as a pickled beet! “You’re gonna get a whupin’” He said!

He was as mad and an old bumble bee after one of us ten young’uns had scrunched its nest!

Dad and mom had left that Saturday morning to shop at Richlands, Va., about ten miles from Shortt Gap. His final instructions to my brother, Wendell and I, “you boys hoe that patch of corn above the road before we get back! It is not too big, so it shouldn’t take the two of you more than an hour or so to finish it!” Boy, was he wrong!

Like most teenagers, we didn’t pay the closest attention to dad that morning. We didn’t know how to gage our time more wisely. Just as we started up the hill with our goose-neck hoes with the hickory handles, our brother E.L. sauntered out of the house nonchalantly, picked up a good sized stone and heaved it our way. Whether he meant to hit either of us, we did not know, but by chance it hit Wendell on the ankle. E.L. didn’t know what hit him as a fusillade of rocks rained down upon him from above, and believe me there were plenty on that Virginia hillside! He ran into the outhouse for protection and this provided opportunity for us to continue to heave stones up over the wall between the spaces left by the rafters. E.L. screamed bloody murder, although, we probably never landed one on his mischievous little head. We did manage to scare the daylights out of E.L., meanwhile, lining the floor of the outhouse with stones! All the other children came running out of the house to see what the commotion was about and one of the sisters said, “I’m gonna tell dad what you are doing!” This stopped us and we began hoeing the patch of corn but did not finish it before dad’s truck appeared around one of the many bends leading up to our Shack Ridge home. We dreaded what we knew was coming! We both rubbed the stripes for a few days afterward and hoped someday we would make the grade with dad, at least for a little while!

At Grassy Elementary School during rainy days Mrs. Murtis Wade would warn us, “Don’t play in the mud! If you need to go to the outhouse, just ask, but don’t tarry to play and get all muddy and wet!” Kenneth Wade and I left the room together and decided to slide down the hill behind the outhouse on the tempting, wet grass. The grass was taller and much greener behind the outhouse as the soil probably got lots of nutrients. As we entered the schoolroom, after an extended period of time, much longer than Mrs. Wade knew that it should take to relieve ourselves, she asked, “Did you boys play in the mud?” As if she needed to ask as we drippingly took our seats, leaving wet, muddy deposits there.

I won’t forget that whupin’ for many days thereafter, and I’m sure Kenneth remembered it until he left this earth. She even stretched our muddy jeans tightly against our buttocks to make the hurting more effective! She knew how to deal with the unruly hillbilly element! Paddling was legal when I went to elementary school. Kenneth was Mrs. Wade’s nephew!

It seems that the whole United States has become unruly in one way or another. Some of us have even stooped to ‘sliding in the mud’! It is time we began to take stock of ourselves and take responsibility for our actions. If not, how are we going to set an example for any newcomers? Also, if we do not discipline ourselves, from the President on down, then we are in line for a good whupin’!

You may say, well “what is one whupin’ more or less? Why are you making such a big deal over one little, insignificant paddling?” The answer to that lies in the fact that it would not have been so bad, but my dad spent considerable time making that particular paddle from a poplar board. He even took time to bore holes through it with a red, hot poker to make it sting a little more. Besides that, every time I received a paddling at school, one of the other siblings would rat on me at home and that meant another whupin’ from dad! Is Dad making a paddle to discipline the U.S.?