We hear a lot these days about the sad state of discipline among our youngsters, and, on the other hand, of calls to the police if someone happens to witness a parent administering to a recalcitrant child any more than a mild talking to. Along these lines I thought this editorial by Bascome B. Clarke, founder and long-time editor of The American Thresherman, was interesting. It appeared in the August 1907 issue of the paper under Clarke’s byline, “Uncle Silas.”
I remember how mother used to take us on her knee when we had allowed our wrath to be kindled against some little playmate, and how she would smooth back our hair and gently calm the rising storm, and then tell us that dog story:
‘Let dogs delight to bark and bite, for God hath made them so.
Let bears and lions growl and fight, for ’tis their nature, too.
But little children should never let their angry passions rise,
Your little hands were never meant to tear each other’s eyes.’
That was the way mother used to do when we were little, but alas! Too many of mother’s precepts and examples are forgotten when mother has gone to heaven. We go back to where we left off that morning when our bristles were up, and we bark and bite and snap and snarl at our fellowman. We feel that we are men in the middle of the road and eleven feet high; that we are the Cardiff giants of creation and are entitled to the best seat in the big show. We trample upon the rights of others, crushing the weak, cursing the strong. Whoever doesn’t agree with us is wrong, and he deserves to be kicked through his suspenders for it. We declare ourselves the raging lions, entitled to do all the growling, and a mighty roar proceeds from our wind stackers [The wind stacker was the large fan and long pipe at the rear of a threshing machine that blew the threshed straw into a straw stack; they did make a mighty roar.] whenever anybody else has an opinion that did not emanate from our dome of thought.
There are other lasting impressions that mother used to make besides the dog story. Sometimes when she had been tormented by our continued snapping and snarling, and when we smashed each other in the face with those tiny hands of ours, mother felt called upon to tell us about the old woman who lived in the shoe, and use her slipper as a pointer. [There was an old woman who lived in a shoe. She had so many children, she didn't know what to do. She gave them some broth without any bread; then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.] Sometimes she didn’t find out about it until after we had gone to bed and were dreaming of better things. But when we felt mother’s arms around us and gently drawing us across her knee and with her slipper performing her duty, however distressing to her it might be, we recalled another little stanza: ‘Who took me from my warm, warm cot, and spanked me good till I was hot? My mother!’
Some of the most lasting impressions of our lives were made with mother’s slipper. They felt like a sprinkling of tobacco sauce then, but they made lasting impressions on us in after life, and made us more considerate of the rights of others, and somehow did much to eradicate the dog theory from our systems. Oh, the crying need for more mothers’ slippers in the world! This greedy, selfish nature that will not down, but gets up on its hind legs and barks and bites and growls and fights, requires clubs and guns to cure in manhood. God bless our mothers for every love lick made with slipper or shingle too. Both were good for us then; they are with us in memory still.
Here it is, more than a century later and Mr. Clarke’s words still apply.
– Sam Moore
What is a home without a mother? [Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons]