1962, Chicopee Falls, MA was a “Leave it to Beaver”
town. Everybody knew one another so kids rarely got in trouble since
someone’s mom was always bound to see you and tell your mother
if you did something wrong. Most of us kids were raised with a good
dose of corporal discipline so the thought of getting in any kind
of trouble was not often entertained.
The term “corporal discipline” is fashionable for
these politically correct times. In 1962, we called what it was:
a good, old-fashioned, over-the-knee spanking delivered by your
parents, someone else’s parent, and in some cases, even
So kids didn’t act up. It was a more gentile time when
crime was something that happened in the big cities. People in
Chicopee Falls didn’t lock their doors. This made Susie
Martin’s job as a paper girl a little more challenging.
The Normal Rockwell image of a paper boy, riding on his bike down
the street doing hook shots with the paper onto people’s
porches didn’t apply here.
Not in Chicopee Falls. The 12-year-old girl was expected to actually
place the paper inside the door, usually on a small table in the
hallway. It wasn’t all that bad. Susie got to know almost
all her neighbors. It made communications a lot easier too. She
could simply talk to them. If they weren’t home when she
came, all a customer had to do was leave her a note on the table
to indicate that they were going on vacation or for some other
reason didn’t need the paper delivered on a certain day.
On Fridays they would leave payment for the paper and a tip for
So it was with some concern that Susie found that most of her
customers “forgot” to pay her on the Friday before
the Friday, “IT” happened.
That people forgot to pay happened from time to time with a customer
here and there, and when they did forget to leave a payment, they
were always apologetic and overcompensated with a more than generous
tip. But not on this Friday. Almost all her customers seemed to
have forgotten to pay her; even those who NEVER forgot.
When she got home from her route, she mentioned this fact to
her mother. “All of them?” her mom asked.
“Well, most of them, even Mrs. Johnson.”
“There’s something wrong with this. Tell me who didn’t
pay. I’ll give them a call and find out what the story is.”
Mrs. Martin was on the phone for over a half hour. “I talked
to 10 people and they all had the same story. They left you the
money. Are you sure?”
Just then the phone rang again. Mrs. Martin picked it up and
talked for a while. When she hung up she turned to her daughter.
“That was Mrs. Johnson. She said the darndest thing happened.
She left you the money and then when she came in from the store,
she noticed it was gone, but there was no paper. By the time she
got back from putting her groceries away in her pantry in the
back room, the paper was there.”
Susie started to cry, “Mommy, I was going to use that money
to save up for the school ski trip this year.” Susie’s
parents weren’t poor, but coming up with money for extra
luxuries wasn’t in the budget. If she wanted to go away
with her friends, she would have to pay for it.
“Don’t worry. We’ll work something out. Right
now we got to solve this mystery.”
Saturday came and Susie went to the park to meet up with her
friend Perry and his sister Donna. Perry was actually Susie’s
best friend. It was unusual for girls and boys to be friends at
this age but it was hard for Susie to think of Perry as a boy,
he was, well Perry. For his part he really didn’t think
of Susie as a girl, she was his friend and that was all there
was to it. Of course they also had friends of their own gender
who made fun of their relationship, but the two of them didn’t
“Did you hear what happened to me yesterday,” Susie
“Yeah, my mom told me. It’s all over town. Somebody
must have known it was collection day and got there before you.”
“Yeah, but who? I made my rounds right after school. Everyone
we know was in school.”
“Everyone we know.” Perry confirmed, “But what
about people we don’t know?”
“Well, it can’t be an adult. There isn’t enough
money for that. It had to be another kid.”
“Billy Watson!” they both said in unison. Billy was
the bad boy of the neighborhood. It would not be unusual for him
to play truant.
“But how are we going to prove it?” Susie asked.
“Prove what?” Donna asked.
“Prove that Billy took Susie’s paper money,”
“I saw him!” Donna said.
“Saw him do what?”
“Go in the Johnson’s house and then across the street
to the Benson’s. I was playing hide and seek with Judy and
Marilyn and Kelley and I was under the steps going up to the Johnson’s
house. He looked around and I guess I hid good because he didn’t
“I saw him go up the steps and then across the street.
And then I saw you come with the paper.”
“Are you sure it was him?” Perry put in.
“I saw him clear as day. Besides who else wears boots in
Billy thought he looked cool in his motorcycle boots. The rest
of us kids laughed at him behind his back.
“Are you willing to tell my mom what you saw?” Susie
“He’s going to be in real trouble then!” Susie
“Wait a minute,” Perry said, “I got a better
“I mean Billy’s always picking on us kids and making
life miserable, right?”
“Well suppose we go to him first and tell him that we saw
him and make him give us back the money?”
“What makes you think he’ll listen to us? We’re
just a bunch of kids.”
“All we have to do is threaten to go to your mom. He’ll
give us the money to keep us quiet and stay out of trouble.”
Susie screwed up her face in confusion and looked at Perry. “So
why don’t we just go to my mom and let her make him give
me the money. He’ll probably get a spanking from his parents
too. He deserves one.”
“I’m still not following you, Perry.”
“Look, if we tell your mom, he gives us back the money,
and maybe gets a spanking from his dad and then it’s all
“So if we tell him that we’re going to tell your
mom unless he does what we say, he still has to give us back the
money, and WE get to spank him!”
Susie’s eyes got wide at the prospect. Donna was bouncing
up and down giggling.
“I take it that’s a yes?”
“Of course,” Susie said, “This will be just
a secret between the three of us? OK?”
Revenge had to wait until Monday as Perry and Susie met up after
school and took a detour on the way home.
It wasn’t hard to find Billy. He liked to hang out at the
ice cream parlor near the high school. He was always trying to
talk to the high school boys who mostly ignored him unless they
had some menial task for him to do. He was all tough with the
little kids, but really wanted to be one of the “big boys.”
He was looking around nervously, scanning for any adults he might
know, puffing on a cigarette – bought, no doubt, with Susie’s
Perry and Susie walked up to him. Perry said, “Hello, Billy.”
Billy just looked at him then looked away. Perry obviously could
not be talking to him.
Susie said, “Perry said, ‘Hi’ Billy!”
Who were these little kids and why were they bothering him? “Buzz
off, little girl.”
“Oh, I’ll buzz off. I’ll buzz right off to
the police station and talk to Officer LeBlanc.” Officer
LeBlanc was one of several police officers in town. All the kids
knew every one of them, and more importantly the officers knew
every kid. They knew when someone didn’t belong somewhere.
Messeur LeBlanc also happened to be Susie’s uncle. Having
a policeman in the family made her feel kind of special.
That got Billy’s attention. “What are you talking
“I think you know,” Susie said standing in front
of him with both hands on her hips. Perry stood beside her, ready
to back her up in case there was trouble. There wouldn’t
be. Individually each child was smaller and weaker than him, but
combined, they could at least cause some hurt to him, and Billy
didn’t like getting hurt. Besides it was too public a place
for a physical confrontation.
“You don’t know nothing,” Billy said, trying
to bluff his way out of it.
“We have a very reliable witness, placing you at the scene
of two of your crimes last Friday.”
“You mean old Lady Johnson?” Billy said, “She’s
half blind, she didn’t see nothing. It was probably her
cat scratching at the door.”
“Who said anything about Mrs. Johnson? Funny you should
bring her up. Is there any reason why you want us to believe you
weren’t around Mrs. Johnson’s house last Friday?”
That flustered Billy and he coughed out the last drag on his
cigarette and tossed it aside. “Um, nothing. No reason.”
“Isn’t it funny how there are dozens of people all
over town missing money last Friday,” Perry stated.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I
didn’t do nothing.”
“Who said you did? Except maybe you,” Perry pressed
on. “A guilty conscience needs no accuser. You make a poor
crook, Billy Watson. You’re supposed to tell you’re
lies after you are asked the questions, not before.”
Billy got angry at the accusation. He pulled himself up to his
full 5’ 9” stature and straightened the lapels on
his jacket. “You calling me a liar?” He took a menacing
step towards Perry. Perry didn’t move.
Billy stepped back and looked back and forth between Perry and
Susie. “You kids are crazy!”
“So what will it be, Billy? Do we go to the police with
our evidence? You’ll wind up in juvenile hall and become
an official JD.” To be a JD (juvenile delinquent) in 1962
was a stigma, not an honor.
“Wait a minute!” Billy pleaded.
Perry looked at his watch, “60 seconds, 59 , 58,”
as he started his countdown.
“OK-OK, what do you want?”
“We know you took the money. We want it back,” Susie
“OK Perry, let’s go talk to Officer LeBlanc.”
“Alright! I’ll give you the money. Is that it?”
“And then there’s the matter of your punishment,”
Susie said with a relish.
“I told you I’d give the money back.”
“Not good enough. That only makes up for half of what you
did. You have to be taught a lesson so you won’t do it again
if you think you won’t get caught.”
“You promised you wouldn’t tell the cops.”
Ever the lawyer, Perry said, “Actually we didn’t
promise anything. However, if you are willing to ‘cut a
deal’ we will keep the police out of this.”
“What kind of deal?”
“We get to spank you.” Susie said.
“Pants down,” she went on.
“You can’t mean that.”
“At the time and place of our choosing.”
“Either we spank your behind, or somebody will do it in
juevie hall. I hear they like boys like you there.” Although
the community was quiet, sheltered and conservative, some stories
did make their way into common lore.
“Alright, I’ll do it. Is that all?”
“That’s all. Meet us at Mrs. Johnson’s at 3:30
“Why there? Why then?” Perry and Billy asked almost
“I have my reasons,” Susie responded. Sticking her
tongue out at Billy, she added, “Because *I* said so.”
As the couple walked away from Billy she explained another of
the reasons to Perry, “He has all week long to think about
his punishment. That’s almost as bad as having the punishment,
maybe worse.” She then told him her final reason, and Perry
thought it was a good idea.
Things went rather funny for Billy that week at school. He tried
to avoid Perry and Susie as much as possible, but it was inevitable
that he would run into them every now and then, and they would
remind him of his appointment with them at Mrs. Johnson’s
on Friday. But it was the other children who got to him. Was it
just his imagination, or did they whisper and giggle as he walked
At last Friday arrived. His suffering would soon be over. He
decided to “take it like a man” and get it over with.
He met Perry and Susie at the gate to the courtyard outside Mrs.
Mrs. Johnson lived on the second story of the house. The owners
lived downstairs but were seldom home during the day. The courtyard
was actually the side yard for the house, and a staircase was
built along that side of the house to access the second floor.
A high fence separated the courtyard from the street, so there
was a degree of privacy. The landing at the top of the stairs
overlooked the courtyard.
“Come on,” Susie urged, and she opened the gate.
She was comfortable doing so, since she did this every day to
deliver the paper. Normally Mrs. Johnson was near the end of her
route. Today, she would be her first stop.
Billy felt uneasy as he went up the steps. He was returning to
the scene of the crime, and he felt guilty about it. He also had
no idea what Mrs. Johnson’s role in the proceedings would
be. Would he have to apologize to her? Would she spank him? Would
she tell his mom or the police?
As it turned out, Mrs. Johnson wasn’t home at all. Friday
was the day to have her hair done, and to do some shopping on
the way home.
The three children entered the empty house. Susie simply put
the paper on the stand where it belonged, and then turned to Billy.
“Now it’s time for your punishment. Take your clothes
Billy swallowed hard. “I can’t do that. You’re
“You’ll see my … thing.”
“OK, I’ll talk to Officer LeBlanc and you’ll
wind up in juevie where a whole bunch of people will see your
thing every day. I hear the guards watch you take your shower
and some of them are women.” Billy had no idea if she was
making it up, but with the stories us kids heard about juevile
hall, he was prepared to believe anything.
Billy didn’t have a choice and he knew it. “Can’t
I leave my underwear on, at least?”
“The whole thing. Birthday suit. Don’t argue, we
don’t have time. If you don’t get your spanking today,
I’ll have to call the police.”
Soon the boy was naked before her and Perry. Susie blushed a
little as she looked at the older boy but thought, “He deserves
this. I deserve it too after what he did to me.” It also
made her feel better that Billy was blushing even more.
Suddenly there was a knock on the door. Perry pulled aside the
window curtain and looked out. “It’s Donna,”
he said and opened the door so the young girl could come in.
Billy tried to cover up in the presence of the new girl, but
Susie gave him a swat on the butt. His hands went behind him instinctively.
“They’re here,” Donna announced.
“Who’s here?” Billy thought.
Perry opened the door and pulled Billy out the landing. With
Susie and Donna pushing he was outside before he could even resist.
There were laughs and giggles coming from the courtyard. Billy
looked down to see what seemed to be every kid in school looking
up. He tried to turn to go back inside but was overpowered by
“There’s only one way out,” Susie said in his
ear. “Put your hands on the railing, and let me spank you.”
She and Perry twisted him around. A gasp came from the assembled
crowd below. There wasn’t much to see, the railing hid all
the good parts and children who were hoping to see some private
parts got nothing more than a fleeting view as Billy danced around
the deck. But it didn’t matter we all knew it was Billy,
and he was naked, and he was going to get his just desserts. Perry
and Donna, having front row seats, just stood back and enjoyed
Susie grabbed a newspaper and swatted him hard with it. She prepared
this one especially for Billy. It was rolled extra tight, and
had some extra rubber bands to make sure it stayed together. In
fact nearly 6 inches of it near the end were criss-crossed with
maybe a hundred of them. It was almost like a solid slab of hard
rubber. The paper was a Friday edition so it was a little extra
heavy having some advertisements for sales in the local stores
the following day.
The newspaper met Billy’s bare behind with a “whoomp”
sound that got caught between the walls of the courtyard and echoed
around and amplified itself. You could feel it almost like a concussion
standing down below.
Billy let out a grunt and the crowd cheered. Girls squealed and
giggled. Boys laughed.
“WHOOMP” came the second blast, louder and more forceful
than the last. A group of girls in the front started jumping up
and down, clapping like teenagers at an Elvis show. Susie was
becoming their hero. How they wished that they could be her taking
down this big bully and showing him who’s boss!
“WHOOMP” came the paper once again. Billy’s
head snapped back with the stroke. Susie was getting more confidence
with every swing. She thought about what Billy did to her last
week, and it gave her extra strength. She thought, “I better
remember this when I play softball. If I can swing this hard I’ll
hit the ball a half a mile.”
“WHOOMP” again, and this time Billy let out a cry.
From below, first one voice, and then another picked up the chant,
“Su-zie, Su-zie.” Soon the whole crowd was chanting
her name encouraging her on. Her swinging fell into a sort of
rythm with the chanting.
Even above the chanting, the children could still hear and feel
each WHOOMP as Susie laid stroke after stroke on Billy’s
butt. It was beginning to turn red and you could see individual
imprints from some of the rubber bands.
The chanting broke up as individual children poked each other
and whispered, with cupped hands over their neighbors ears (I
don’t know why, with all the noise it was difficult to hear
any distinct words), “Look at that; he’s crying.”
The crowd turned into a murmuring sea of fingers pointing towards
Billy was bawling and sobbing like nobody’s business. Nobody
knows how many WHOOMPs Billy received that day, but eventually
it was over as Susie felt like she couldn’t lift the paper
one more time. He stood there in shock, not believing that it
was finally over. Through his tears, he could see a blur of faces
still looking up at him. It was a memory and a nightmare he would
take with him for a long time.
By the time Susie and Perry let him go, he was defeated. He went
into the house and got dressed. Some of the children were still
gathered when he stepped out on the balcony. They gave him a mock
cheer. He rushed down the steps and through the gauntlet of jeering
children, and was last seen running down Beauchamp Terrace, never
to be a menace at school again.
People wondered at the small parade of admiring fans that followed
Susie on her collection rounds that Friday. If the adults ever
found out about what she did, they never told us about it.