Monday, January 6, 2014

Life with Fred & Lucy, Part 12: Discipline


My parents were strict, Italian and Catholic. That’s all I have to say and I think you'll get the gist of where I'm going with this newest episode. How did Italian parents dish out discipline in South Philly? Swiftly! But, I don’t think it mattered what your nationality was; parents demanded respect back in the old days, and believe me, they got it.

                                                       Lucy, Mike, Me and Jane

My siblings and I were a handful, but we didn’t start out each day asking ourselves, “How can we drive Fred and Lucy nuts?” Honest! It just happened. We never meant to drive our parents crazy, but somehow,  we  always did a good job of it
I was the mouthiest of Fred and Lucy’s four cherubs; always debated the rules. I would challenge the rules, bargaining for more freedom. Jane, only eighteen months younger, often chimed  in. Did we weaken our parents' stance? Hell no!  I told you they were strict.
When the four of us weren't getting into trouble, we were fighting. The three sisters usually siding against the lone brother. Poor Michael was outnumbered...but...every once in a while he got even. Michael had an inquisitive nature. He was always taking things apart just to see how they worked. Our clocks and radio the most frequent targets.

My father would normally find parts of the wall clocks or radio in my brother’s room. What was Michael building? My brother eventually figured out how to bug the whole house before he reached the age of twelve. He missed his calling in life and would have made a great 007. Needless to say, between my sassing back and Michael's need to experiment on household objects, we received most of the spankings, but only if our parents could catch us.
My father had a bum leg from a childhood accident that had landed him in an Atlantic City Hospital for two years. He'd developed osteomyelitis and almost lost his leg. That illness left him with a limp, but if we made him angry enough, he’d chase us throughout the house.
“Get back here,” he’d yell as he limped after us. Sure, the belt hurt and sure, we would cry, but my father would only hit on us on our butts and then all was forgiven. My mother was not so forgiving and it was my mother who we feared the most.
                                                      Release the Kraken!
My mother used various objects to get our attention when we four kids misbehaved: wooden spoons, slippers, hair brush, a doll (that Patty Play-pal Doll story is for a later time) but when she was close enough, she used her hands. Her bedroom slippers were her weapons of choice. Her aim was better than any of the Military Drones used today.                                         
I still don’t know how she did this, but she would throw her slipper at us and that sucker would track us down; turning corners if need be. It didn’t stop its flight until it made contact. Did Mom’s slippers come equipped with radar? We’ll never know, but her aim was just as good with the hair brush.
We knew we were in really big trouble when she took out the wooden spoon. This spoon was the one used for the ritual making of the Sunday Gravy. The wooden spoon wasn’t that big, but my mother used it like a numchuck, and there was nothing wrong with her legs, in fact, she ran faster than we did. My parents demanded respect not only for them, but for our neighbors and customers, and heaven help us if a neighbor complained about us; out came the strap or spoon.
Today, teachers today get little respect from their charges or the little darlings’ parents, but back in the day, if you can home and told your parents that Sister Mary Margaret (who I think was a relative of Attila the Hun) hit you with her ruler; you were hit again by your parents. Why? Well, according to my parents, it was always our fault.
All that discipline didn’t harm us, and if anything, it made us stronger, respectful, less of a cry baby, and more importantly, taught us that we were accountable for our actions. Every action has a reaction and our generation knew this and lived by the code, and if my parents were alive today, Mom would be using her slipper on  the knuckleheads in Congress.


  1. Love this! I've been meaning to read your blog for a long time. And your parents did raise you to be tough as nails... now we need to hear from your kids.

    1. Thank you, Jeanine. I'm working hard on my social media because to sell books, you need to throw yourself out there.

  2. Love this! I've been meaning to read your blog for a long time. And your parents did raise you to be tough as nails... now we need to hear from your kids.