A Period American Story

By Seymour Jay

The year was 1886. I had just turned 17 years old. I lived on a large plantation farm my mother owned in south Mississippi. My father had died 6 or 7 years ago and my mother took over leadership of the farm. We were mainly a cash crop farm raising cotton, tobacco, and cattle. This made my mother one of the wealthiest people in our area. We had a huge estate and many employees. All the employees lived on our estate. We had employee housing for them. Most every meal we ate, we all ate together. All the employees were treated very well and were much more like family than employees. Times were tough for the working class and all the employees were grateful for their job, their meals and their housing. No one ever quit and all worked hard to make sure the farm was profitable to ensure their good wellbeing would continue to be provided for.

My mother, Sarah, was well respected by her employees, and they all looked after her and myself. She never done any physical work at all. She always had someone there to do anything that she needed. The only employee that actually stayed in our house with us was Patsy. She was our maid, cooked our food and done any errands that my mother needed done. She also had been my nanny, so to speak, growing up. She had worked for my family at least for the past 17 years. She had been around my entire lifetime.

Patsy was in her late 30s. She was short with and average build with coal black hair. This was the only job she had known. She grew up on the farm as her mother and father had worked there before her. She was expected to be at my mother’s beck and call.

Once, when I was about 14, on a hot summer day I slipped off from my duties that my mother put before me on the farm and went to a creek that run through our acreage. I went for a swim to cool down. I guess I stayed a lot longer than I had planned on. When I got back to our house, my mom and Patsy were waiting near the front porch. They had been looking all over for me in fear I was in danger. My mother scolded me for going to the creek without permission and also leaving my work undone.

My mom said, “Patsy, take Joseph to the horse barn where you will find a leather strap hanging upon the wall. Teach him a good lesson about not running off again.”

“But ma’am,” Patsy started to interrupt.

“Patsy, do as I say. I do not plan to repeat myself. And Patsy, make sure it is a GOOD lesson. I would not want to find out otherwise.” My mother said boldly as she turned and went back to the house.

That was a day I never forgot. I asked Patsy to go easy on me and no one would be the wiser. I guess out of respect for my mother or the fear of loosing her job, that didn’t happen. Having to drop my trousers and get my backside tanned by a woman only about 20 years older than me was really embarrassing, not to mention very painful. I resented Patsy laying it to me as hard as she did since no one would have known otherwise. Needless to say, I never run off again.

Now some three years later, I had grown into a man. My mother was grooming me to take over the farm. I spent some time doing farm labor and some time learning from my mother how to manage the farm.

One day, I came back inside from working. As I entered the house I heard my mother near her room.

“Patsy! What in god’s name are you doing?”

“No, ma’am. It isn’t what you think. I swear it isn’t, ma’am.”

As I went to see with my own eyes what was going on, I saw Patsy with my mother’s pearl necklace on. I knew that some things were off limits, and my mother’s jewelry was one of the most important things on that list.

“Ma’am, I was just seeing what I looked like in such fine jewelry. Ma’am, I wasn’t going to take it. I swear.”

My mother was a woman of few words. She really only spoke when she was giving orders.

“Patsy, I believe you was not going to take the necklace, but you know that my jewelry is NOT TO BE touched!!!”

“Ma’am, please do not make me leave this job. This is my home. It is the only job that I have ever known.”

“Joesph,” my mother turned to me and said: “You are becoming the man of the house and of this farm. Please accompany Miss Patsy to the horse barn and freshen her up a bit on her manners. There are certain things in this life that are easily learned, and certain things that need to be taught.”

“Ma’am!”  Patsy exclaimed.

“Patsy, I thought you knew the rules, but I guess you need a friendly reminder.” My mother stated boldly. “Joesph, do as you are told.” And with that my mother turned and walked away to her study.

I knew not to cross my mother, so I knew I had to do as I was told.

Patsy looked at me with a outraged look and put her head down and stomped out of the room. She stomped all the way to the front door and slung it open. I tried to keep up with her, but could not. She was in a fast walk all the way to the barn. When I got to the barn and shut the door behind me, she was sitting on the ground near the stalls with her arms crossed. I was nervous about what was going to happen. Patsy was older than me by 20 years. Kind of like a mother figure to me, and my mother had ordered me to teach her a lesson.

“How do you want to do this?” Patsy screamed. “Let’s just get this over with,” she said a little more calmly. “I will well tears up in my eyes, and you take that strap and smack the barn wall, and I will scream each time that you do. Then I will run back to the house with my face in my hands, balling my eyes out. “No one will be the wiser,” Patsy continued.

“Much the same as I asked of you a few years ago,” I boldly said. “But no, you did as mother asked. You give me a whooping I have not forgotten. Mother thinks that you need a reminder of your manners. I believe you do as well. Miss Patsy, if you would please stand and face that stall wall.”

The stalls had dividing walls about 40 inches tall between each stall.

“The only person that has ever give me a whoopin’ was my dear ol’ daddy, and the last time that happened was nearly 20 years ago. If you think you are gonna give me a whoopin’, you have another think coming, boy. Ain’t no 17 year old boy gonna take a strap to me.”

“If I have to go tell mother that you are not cooperating, things will probably not be good for you. She will either fire you on the spot and see you off the estate immediately, or have one of the more sizable farmhands come see that the punishment is carried out.”

With that, I walked to the door and started toward the house.

“No, Joseph, please. Please come back,” Patsy hollered.

I turned around, went back inside the barn and shut the door behind me.

“Stand up and face the stall wall, Miss Patsy.”

She stood up and faced short stall wall.  It was a little higher than waist high.

“I hate to demand this of you, Miss Patsy, but I am afraid it is necessary. Pull up your dress and take down your drawers. Lean over the stall wall.”

After a long pause, Patsy slowly lifted her dress, unfastened her drawers and let them fall.

“Lean yourself across the stable wall, Miss Patsy.”

Patsy raised up on her tip-toes and leaned across the wall. Her waist was resting across the wall with her feet not able to touch the ground now. Her dark-skinned bottom stuck nearly directly upward. I had never seen a woman with her drawers down. It was a very awkward situation for me.

“Have mercy on me, sir!” Patsy said as she heard me remove the 3 inch wide strap from the hook on the wall.

I laid the supple leather strap softly on her upturned cheeks as she gasped. I lifted it high and slammed it down forcefully on the vulnerable skin of her bottom. A shrill scream was let out. I lifted it again and swung the 3 foot long strap even harder. It wrapped around to her side as it landed on her bottom. Another scream was let out. Two 3 inch wide reddish welts began to appear on Patsy’s dark skin. Patsy give me very little resistance for as hard as she was getting strapped. I guess she knew she had little way out of it. I continued to give her around 15 strokes total. After about the 15th stroke I was wore out and Patsy was screaming uncontrollably. Her bottom was welted and bruised. I hung the strap back on the barn wall.

“Patsy, you better get back to the house and see what mother needs from you.”

The End

© Seymour Jay 2019