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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Hoy Deal, July 3 and 11, 1979. Interview H-0117. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

A disciplinarian father dispenses a beating

Deal shares a detailed recollection of a beating he received from his father after telling a lie about some childhood antics. Deal's father was the disciplinarian in the family; Deal was able to escape from his mother or extract promises that she would not beat him for bad behavior.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Hoy Deal, July 3 and 11, 1979. Interview H-0117. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

Did you go to school with a lot of the kids of the people that worked at the cotton mills there in Newton? Were you familiar with people that worked there at the cotton mills?
No, I didn't know too many people that worked in the cotton mill. We wasn't interested in finding out anything about the people's parents so much. But there was a couple boys that worked in the lumber company there at Newton that went to school when I did. I know I got a thrashing because they worked where my daddy did, and I stayed out of school one evening. Me and one or two of his boys and a couple others got one of these old lever cars that they use on the railroad. It was setting up there at the top of the hill in North Newton, and we got that thing and put it on the side track, and a bunch of us boys got on that thing, going down the hill. And there was some boys that come down the other end of the track by the ice plant towards the shop, and they seen us putting that thing on the track. And we got that on the track, and there was a big dirt pile for the boxcars, when they'd cut them loose, to run them down and stop them when they got to that dirt pile at the end of the line. And them boys drew a cross-tie that was lying there around on the front of that dirt pile to where our lever car would hit it. And I was crazy-like and jumped off before it got down there, and some of them stayed on it till it got down there, and it didn't hurt them. I thought it'd hit that crosstie and knock us off there on the railroad track. I jumped off of that thing, and I mashed my mouth and my nose and had it all puffed up. I went home that evening, and my daddy come in from work. "What happened to you?" "I was running and fell down." I told him a lie, and that's the worst thing I ever could have done, because I got a whipping every time I told him a lie and he found it out. If it was a week later before he found it out, I'd get a whipping. And so them boys went home, and they told their daddy about what we done and about me falling and getting hurt, and he went back to the shop the next day and told my daddy the truth about it, how we was out there playing and got hurt. And so I went home that evening from school, and he come home from work around about four-thirty or five o'clock. And he said, "Now I want you to tell me again how you got hurt. I done know the truth about it." And I told him. He said, "Getting hurt was enough, but you told me a lie on top of it." And he had brought some little strips about that long and about that wide and about as thick as your finger of rich pine home, and he'd laid them under the edge of the table. We cooked on an old wood stove and used pine to make the fires every morning. And I told him how it happened after I'd told him a lie about it and he had done found out the truth about it. And so he said, "I'm going to give you a whipping for telling me a lie. Getting hurt was bad enough, but if you wouldn't have told me a lie, getting hurt would have been enough, maybe, to learn you to come home where your place was." And he give me a whipping with that piece of pine. (He'd generally bring two or three home every day if he'd run across any in his work.) Then after that he said, "You better come home of an evening and not be playing along the road. If you do, you'll get into some other meanness, and you'll get another hurting and get a whipping, too, if you don't come home from school." And me and a couple of boys was coming home one evening from school, and there was mailboxes all along the road. And we was throwing rocks at that mailbox post. Old man Mark Hewitt was a brickmason, and he didn't live too far from the house, just maybe ten minutes' walk up there, and he come up there and told my daddy about it. He said, "Your boy and such a boys was throwing rocks at my mailbox. They didn't hit the mailbox, but they was throwing rocks at it." You know, crazy young'uns, just seeing which could hit it the quickest and stuff like that. My daddy said, "The next time I hear tell of you throwing rocks at anybody's mailbox, I'm going to whip you for it." So we didn't throw any more rocks at that man's mailbox. I don't know whether we ever throwed any rocks at anybody's or not after that. But that old man was funny anyhow, or we thought he was, but of course it was his mailbox and it was government property, and if we'd have bent his mailbox up or something, he could have had us put in jail for destroying property or something like that. It was a foolish thing to be doing, but we didn't think nothing about that. But at that time, if we'd have bent the box up, it was government property, and any time that you destroy any government property they can give you a year and a day. I learnt that after I got big enough to have a little sense by going to court and being on the grand jury and stuff like that.
Did you think of your father as being a pretty strict disciplinarian?
Yes, I thought so, of course, but he made us listen. If we done anything that we knowed was wrong and got a whipping at school for it, why, he'd give us one when we got home. It was just like I was telling that woman out there a while ago. I was talking to her. She was telling how she used to have to whip her two oldest boys for not listening to her. Said she could whip them, and they'd just take the whipping and still wouldn't do what she tried to make them do. They had a wood stove, and said they had to have wood to cook, and said she'd try to make them two oldest boys carry in the wood so she could cook her meal after she got home from work. And said that they'd just take a whipping and set down beside the woodpile, wouldn't even carry in no wood after she whipped them. But she just got to where she felt sorry for them, and she'd whipped them and it wouldn't do a bit of good. Said she'd tried talking good talk to them, and that didn't do no good; they just wouldn't carry in wood.
Did your mother ever do any of the disciplining in the family?
My mother'd try to make us listen. Some of them would listen to her, but I had a habit, when she'd get after me, I'd go out and climb up in a peach tree or apple tree or something. And she'd try to get me to come down, and I wouldn't come down. I'd sit up there maybe an hour or two at a time, and I wouldn't come down till she had promised me she wouldn't whip me if I'd come down and not run from her no more. But I'd still run from her a lot of times and climb up a tree or something when she'd get after me. But if she'd tell my daddy, why, I got a whipping then when he found it out. [Laughter]