I may be the only American not utterly fascinated by the late pinup Bettie Page, but I will usually read articles about her as I find them, because they often contain fascinating looks at life in midcentury America.

I may be misremembering some of the key details, but there was something about the Klaws, the brother-sister photography team who promoted her career. They ran a company that sold stills from Hollywood pictures, which people collected back then. They wondered why they couldn’t keep certain Tarzan stills in stock — the ones that featured Jane or some other woman tied to a tree. Then they realized there was a market for bondage photos. (Many featuring Bettie.)

I thought of that when I read this rather marvelous Jezebel piece on spanking in old movies.

Spanking doesn’t appeal to me erotically, but I certainly know it’s a Thing, and it’s pretty damn obvious there’s a rather large segment of the population who is totally into it. At least, if you could up all the actresses who were turned over men’s laps and swatted with hands, shoes and whatever else was at hand:

In early 1946, a woman from Carmel, California wrote the Hollywood fan magazine Screenland to say how much she had enjoyed the recent Christmas release Frontier Gal—not just for its lovely performers and dazzling Technicolor vistas, but for saving her marriage by teaching her husband to spank her.

After he’d returned from the war, she’d struggled to warm up to him again, she wrote, which caused a problem—and here was the solution. “In desperation, after seeing the show, he tried little Beverly’s philosophy,” wrote Mrs. J.B.M. “Daddies spank mamas because they love them. While this old-fashioned approach probably wouldn’t work in all cases, it did for us, and I would appreciate an opportunity to publicly thank Universal and Frontier Gal.”

The letter is mysterious—is it describing erotic play, or spousal abuse?—but the context is less so. Frontier Gal was one of at least five movies with scenes of women being spanked released in 1945 alone. Though the movie culminates in a minute-long spanking of its star Yvonne De Carlo, the plot device was so unremarkable as to not even make the reviews. From the beginnings of cinema up through the 1960s, a spanking was just a routine part of a certain type of screen romance: watch the supercut below.

It’s a wonderful exploration, with lots of GIFs and stills and that long supercut. It’s easy to see the visual appeal for a movie audience; the actress gets to poke a shapely butt skyward and wiggle a pair of even shapelier calves in protest, simultaneously throwing her mop of shiny curls around. Ooh la la, eye candy. That this stuff skated past the Hays Office is odd, that it was reflected in the larger culture is even odder. It turns out mom and dad may have been into all sorts of kink while we were sleeping in our flannel jammies.

More bloggage? This is what I’m going to be doing early mornings in Iceland. You won’t be able to keep me away with a machine gun. (Which basically don’t exist there, anyway.) It’s a piece on the great, public swimming pools/hot tubs of that country. I’ve already planned where I’ll be going, of course.

Haiti, cholera and the U.N., from Slate.

Now to take my non-stinging behind off to bed.

Posted at 12:18 am in Current events, Popculch |

44 responses to “Paddled.”

  1. Sherri said on April 20, 2016 at 2:13 am

    Per the Haiti article, I highly recommend Jonathan Katz’ book The Big Truck Went By. It gives you a good view of exactly how humanitarian aid is spent, in particular, how little is spent in the actual area being helped.

    The Ghost Map, about the cholera epidemic in London, is also a fabulous book.

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  2. MichaelG said on April 20, 2016 at 2:30 am

    I’m glad you’re feeling good, Dexter.

    I’m not glad to hear your news, Alex. Bummer. I hope everything turns out well.

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  3. MichaelG said on April 20, 2016 at 2:32 am

    I’m not clicking links Nance. The Wi-Fi here is so slow and I keep getting dropped. It’s a pain in the patoot.

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  4. alex said on April 20, 2016 at 7:33 am

    Thanks, Michael. The good news is that it can be reversed if I’m diligent about it. And on the bright side, my sucky insurance, which had denied coverage for Omega-3 supplementation (which costs me about $200 a month cash) will be hard put to deny it now. Fuckers.

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  5. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 20, 2016 at 7:53 am

    Alex, my mother-in-law reversed it with diet and exercise, and not as much as she feared or as onerous as we all worried it would be for her. I pray that it will be as simple a correction for you into health!

    The UN peacekeeper story on Haitian cholera just makes me . . . well, sick.

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  6. Connie said on April 20, 2016 at 8:29 am

    Strange lady at the library yesterday: Vobama is going to declare martial law in order to keep Trump from becoming President. I have connections in the ATF and they know. We need Trump to build that wall in order to keep Muslim rapists out. And he will make Ford bring auto factories back to the US from Mexico.

    I am still trying to wrap my head around a Mexican border wall keeping Muslim rapists out.

    One of my co-workers walked away leaving me the last person listening.

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  7. Peter said on April 20, 2016 at 9:03 am

    I call BS on one item in that NYT article about Icelandic pools – Budapest is world famous for their popular thermal pools – some of them in operation today were built by the Romans, others by the Ottomans – and Hungarians have the world’s highest rate of suicides. Then again, maybe it would even be higher if not for the pools….

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  8. Heather said on April 20, 2016 at 9:16 am

    I am also sorry about your health news, Alex. But the liver is one amazing organ–it is pretty good at regenerating and healing itself given the chance.

    Iceland has never been on my list but many friends with similar travel tastes have told me it’s a must. I do love swimming and pools, and the community aspect is really nice. There’s an outdoor pool within walking distance of me (summers only) and it is definitely a huge thing. I’m always surprised when my neighbors don’t know about it.

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  9. Deborah said on April 20, 2016 at 9:53 am

    While I love hot soaks I don’t like doing it with other people, only family. But I do want to go to Iceland someday, so I guess I’ll have to get over it. I’ve been putting a bug in my husband’s ear about going to Iceland, it’s not been on his radar, but he’s coming around.

    I have a long boring travel day ahead of me so I might be commenting more often, feel free to skip over them. On the other hand I have some great books to read so I may be immersed in my reading.

    My husband sent photos of our new space in Chicago this morning. It’s looking great, but we put off our move until May 2, hoping a few more items will be completely finished by then instead of having to have work done after we’re in residence.

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  10. brian stouder said on April 20, 2016 at 10:13 am

    Deborah – is this the end of NM, or are you going to have a summer residence (Chicago) and a winter residence (NM)?

    Somewhere along the way you probably already said, and I missed it along the way.

    I don’t get the spanking thing. It came onto my radar when ol’ David Lynch had a scene where Isabella Rosalini (spelling) whispers “hit me”(!!) to the enthralled teenaged boy….and it lost me at the bakery.

    I may be a square ol’ Hoosier, but hey! The nation is beginning to look our way, with regard to our only-one-in-the-nation-on-that-day primary on May 3… so there’s that!!

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  11. Deborah said on April 20, 2016 at 10:31 am

    Brian, it will be back and forth but mostly winter in NM and when it gets really hot and humid in Chicago in the summer.

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  12. alex said on April 20, 2016 at 10:37 am

    Spanking in the movies was obviously intended to infantilize women, which was no doubt quite all right with the Hays Office and probably the Catholic League of Decency too. They no doubt would have approved of these ads:

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  13. Judybusy said on April 20, 2016 at 11:02 am

    Deborah, I’d love photos of the new place, and your NM digs, too.

    Alsex, thanks for speaking what was on my mind!

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  14. adrianne said on April 20, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    Good Lord, these Bernie people are getting. On. My. Last. Nerve.

    Their takeaway from Bernie’s trouncing in New York? Well, Bernie won most of New York’s 62 counties. Um, yeah, the ones with VERY FEW PEOPLE LIVING THERE. The only urban area he won was Albany County. Hillary handily won every borough in New York City, suburban New York City counties (Westchester, Rockland and Orange), Long Island, Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse. Bernie won the counties that look like Vermont – rural and overwhelmingly white.

    I ask you – if you don’t understand New York at all, just shut up already.

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  15. Jakash said on April 20, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    Given your award-winning articles about college drinking, Nancy, I thought you might find this interesting, if you haven’t seen it. Eric Zorn’s Tribune column today refers to a statement made by Kasich, which has evidently caused an uproar that I missed, suggesting that, to be safe, coeds should avoid “parties where there’s a lot of alcohol.”

    Zorn concludes: “Kasich’s reference to ‘parties where there’s a lot of alcohol’ was a clear allusion to the binge-drinking events that are a serious public-health issue on many campuses — events where little to no food is served, semi-consciousness reigns and the air is heavy with the smell of vomit and stale beer.
    To reduce sexual violence on campus still further, men should avoid those parties too.
    If Kasich had said so in the first place, no one would have had to wonder what he was thinking.”

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    • nancy said on April 20, 2016 at 3:08 pm

      I had the same thought — if he’d said everyone should stay away, no one would have turned a hair, but instead, it’s the girl’s responsibility.

      I’ll add that little has been more eye-rollingly exasperating to me than feminists who claim that any such advice to any woman is somehow sexist. It is not. It’s common sense, the same way I tell Kate not to park the car on certain streets in Detroit.

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  16. Deborah said on April 20, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    JudyBusy, the only way I know how to share photos is through Facebook. If you send me a friend request I’ll be happy to accept. That goes for anyone at nn.c. Just let me know who you are if you use a different name on Facebook.

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  17. Sherri said on April 20, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    Jakash, isn’t that just standard Republican dogma? If women don’t want to be raped, they shouldn’t drink/dress provocatively/ask for it/say no but mean yes/etc?

    My favorite was Kasich explaining the Bible to some Talmudic scholars:

    Bernie is fast approaching Nader territory. His cause has been served; now it’s an ego campaign. The unfortunate truth is, the only trick he has left is to attack Hillary and the Democratic Party, the same party that he would need were he to actually win. Now the campaign says they want to flip the superdelegates? How do they plan to do that, by telling them what corporate sellouts they all are?

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  18. Sherri said on April 20, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    When all the Bernie excitement started months ago, with all those rallies, I said then, those rallies are too white, his support is too white, you can’t win a Democratic nomination without support beyond white people. What do you know, you can’t win a Democratic nomination without support beyond white people. And women like me.

    Bernie isn’t losing because the system is rigged against him. Bernie is losing because not enough people want to vote for him, even if they agree with his message. He hasn’t built the relationships or the trust.

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  19. Sue said on April 20, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    If a man claims the right to spank the little woman, then the little woman should have the right to go after hubby with a rolling pin.
    What’s good for the stereotypical goose is good for the stereotypical gander.

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  20. Jakash said on April 20, 2016 at 2:40 pm


    Sure, I wasn’t defending him. MY favorite was his Passover remark in Brooklyn. I’m sure they all appreciated his Christian-splaining.

    The thing that gets me about yesterday is all the griping from Sanders supporters about independents not being able to vote in the primary. Whatever the merits of their argument, it just irks me that Sanders has been an independent his whole career, but he knew his only shot at actually getting elected President would be as a Democrat. So, now he deigns to run as a Democrat, but it’s the Democrats’ fault that people who never wanted to identify as Democrats weren’t able to vote for him in the Democratic primary?

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  21. adrianne said on April 20, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    Yes, besides the absurd Bernie won all these counties in New York arguments is the constant whining about a closed primary. Tough shit, Bernie, suck up and deal with it!

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  22. Dexter said on April 20, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    Happy 420, stoners and pain sufferers alike. You’ve come a long way, you humble ditchweed…now you are a super media star and ballyhooed miracle drug. But if YOU come see me?…/c9935b810a230e825be4…


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  23. susan said on April 20, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    Well, well, A black woman beat up a white man. Haw! It’s about time.

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  24. Dexter said on April 20, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    alex, I was 44 when my doctor told me I was what they called a “borderline diabetic”. I was shocked but not in denial. Over the years I have been continually tested and on many different oral meds. Last visit my doc told me she rarely sees 22 year diabetics who respond as well to pills as I do, still insulin-injection free. Metformin and me, we’re pretty good company…and I now also take Onglyza which keeps my A1C at 5.8 which amazes my doctor…she even gave me a high-five when she saw my last labs. Anyway, it’s time for my 3 month doc visit in 48 hours, so we shall see the latest.
    When I was DX’d in 1994, I really freaked…I quit eating all sugar, I had already quit alcohol, then I quit pie and cake and pasta and pizza and I was sort of miserable…I usually ate a candy bar at work when I was stuck on unexpected overtime, for example, and that went also…slowly I learned how to eat sensibly and if I work it right, I can even have a piece of my beloved cherry pie once in a while. By the Grace, I have lost my taste for ice cream. How did that happen? I am so grateful…must be a benefit of old age. Now I am not tortured by cravings for a quart of Denali Vanilla Bean delight.

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  25. alex said on April 20, 2016 at 3:12 pm

    Hooray for Harriet!

    And speaking of money, here’s some breaking dirt on Indiana’s teabagger douchenozzle, Stutz the Yutz, profligate spender of money not his own:–Stutzman-bills-campaign-for-family-trip-12663361

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  26. brian stouder said on April 20, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    Alex – good stuff!

    To be honest, the story reminds me of something I learned in Harold Holzer’s (wonderful!) book about Lincoln and the penny press, and if I were Yutzman, I’d point to it. To wit, when Abraham Lincoln was in congress, he used the same dodge that most of them did – which was to pad his expense reports with relation to mileage. If I recall correctly, Congress would reimburse members at something like $.03/mile, for trips from the capitol to their district and back. Abe matter-of-factly turned in lots more mileage, including for vacations to Niagra Falls with Mary, and to Massachusetts (etc) for campaigning (for whoever was running for president at the time), etc etc.

    That damned ol’ gadfly Horace Greeley had gotten himself elected to Congress, and promptly turned his office people loose on the now-available-to-him expense reports of other members of Congress, and compared the claimed-mileage of members with what the Postal Service said was the mileage to the various districts, and he found lots and lots fluff

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  27. BethB from Indiana said on April 20, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    I enjoy reading all postings and comments, and since I am basically at home most of the time due to MS mobility issues, I live vicariously through all of you at this blog. I’ve said this before here, you are my people.

    I’ve never found a group that I felt I belonged with more than this group–politics, social issues, travel memories, cars, growing up, religious commentary, and so much more. I am a retired English teacher and school librarian in my mid-60s, and I can relate to almost everything I read here. I rarely comment, but I check in several times a day to make sure i don’t miss anything. And, through an earlier post, I am now acquainted with the DC Eagle Cam that I check daily as well! Thanks to you all.

    Deborah, I would love to see pictures of both your Chicago and NM places, but I don’t know how to find you on Facebook. My name on FB is Beth Newberry Backus.

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  28. brian stouder said on April 20, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    BethB – you will always have my respect, for your career of educating the young folks.

    If I had a do-over, I’d go for that (a teaching career) – although I suppose there’s so much more to it than I can imagine, that I don’t even know what I don’t know!

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  29. alex said on April 20, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    Yikes, Dex. I’m sure those 22-year-olds probably exist on Mickey D’s and Taco Bell and super-sized soft drinks to get type II that early and to be resistant to meds. That’s scary.

    Glad you dropped in, BethB!

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  30. BethB from Indiana said on April 20, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    Brian, thanks. I retired in 2008 after 35 years in education–15 as a junior and senior high English teacher, 20 as a junior high librarian. I loved what I did, but it all became too tied up in central office politics, No Child Left Behind snafus, ISTEP, etc. I got out just in time. Teachers were barely able to get to get assignments collected, let alone graded before parents would bombard them with emails asking how their child had done on this or that. I remember a time when I would need weeks to grade 120 research papers. I think two-way communication is important in education, but helicopter parenting may be end of our young teachers staying with it for more than a few years. No one deserves that.

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  31. Judybusy said on April 20, 2016 at 5:17 pm

    Beth B, if it’s ok I will find you on FB. Glad you commented today! I am hesitant to put my real name because while I trust most of the people that post here, I don’t know who’s lurking. (Paranoia of guarding my privacy due to my work. But I found out that by searching property records, any of my clients can find out my home address in .0008 seconds. Oh well, why make it easy?) Sooo, Nancy, can you get Deborah and I connected via email? Much appreciated.

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  32. MichaelG said on April 20, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    Good to see you, Beth. Don’t be a stranger.

    Heard a good interview on KXJZ with a doc who’s in the biz. He says the number one cause of diabetes is soda pop. Period.

    The super-delegates, in the context of a presidential campaign, are all down ticket officials. When has Bernie ever done anything for them? Ever? Just look at Wisconsin. Why the hell should any super-delegate lift a finger for Bernie Nader?

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  33. beb said on April 20, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    I never see the appeal of spanking. But recent I read a story published around 1918 where the protagonist, a hen-pecked farmer, recalls a proverb that “dogs, women and beech all work better when beaten.” So he started harassing his wife with mice, which she afraid of, and instead of making his wife angrier, she smiles at him as if this rough stuff were not merely normal, but expected.

    In some respects I suspect that spanking in movies was a sublimation for a fist to the face or maybe domestic rape.

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  34. BethB from Indiana said on April 20, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    JudyBusy and any others here, that is fine about FB.

    Michael G–I love your travel tales. I am never a stranger just not a commenter very often. You all say it for me. As I read everything here, my most often, in-my-head comment is, “Yep, agree with that,” repeated almost as many times as there are comments. Or, I am outraged on someone’s behalf for whatever you all are reporting. I feel both informed and at home here.

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  35. David C. said on April 20, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    Connie @ 6. It’s just a variation on a theme. My father-in-law was convinced that President Clinton was going to have the Chinese army invade under the flag of the UN to extend his stay in office. Apparently, from what I hear over the cubicle wall is that the Mexican drug cartels are sneaking Muslim terrorists over the border as sleeper cells (probably taught them to say nothing but “Si Señor” (using old Mel Blanc as Speedy Gonzalez cartoons to make it sound authentic) and nod a lot when they look out from under their sombreros so as to not raise suspicion) So basically, at the end of any Democratic administration, the Rs think hard on who makes them shit their pants the most and they’ll be the ones to help the President stay in office. I guess it would be too much to ask that they at least come up with something original.

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  36. Deborah said on April 20, 2016 at 6:37 pm

    I’m at the airport about to board a plane, but if anyone is looking for me on Facebook my last name is Beckett. You already know my first name. When I get the chance tomorrow I will hook up with you BethB on FB.

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  37. Joe K said on April 20, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    Just got back from Sioux Central Iowa way up in the N.W. Corner 35 miles south of Rapid City.
    Big Big Agricultural, land just sold up their for $20,000 per acre.
    I got to deliver Baby cows, a whole herd, they all fit in the back of my plane in a frozen container,
    By now I believe they have been thawed and inserted into Momma Cows.
    Not the weirdest thing I have hauled, that had to be the radioactive rats I brought up from St Louis to Chicago
    One night.
    Pilot Joe

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  38. Charlotte said on April 20, 2016 at 9:58 pm

    Oh Bettie Page — I have a lovely portrait of my paternal grandmother, who died when I was very young, but of whom I have several vivid memories (she taught me to read at about 3). When I was moving up here, I did a little research on the artist who painted it, since I had to insure it — a guy named Walt Otto — who apparently is mildly famous as a sort of Vargas-era pinup painter. Which is a story I love … Norma looks quite lovely in her portrait, not at all pinup-y, but there’s a little gleam of sex appeal that makes it all work.

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  39. alex said on April 20, 2016 at 10:21 pm

    In keeping with the pinup theme, this quirky old footage set to music.

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  40. Deborah said on April 20, 2016 at 11:54 pm

    I’m back in Chicago, exhausted but here is another good post from Gin and Tacos about the machine of poverty

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  41. MichaelG said on April 21, 2016 at 2:52 am

    When we passed the breakwater on leaving Tangier, the sea was very busy and confused. Windstar was rolling heavily in the swell and the pilot boat was bobbing around furiously. People gathered at the rail to watch the death defying (seriously) leap of the pilot from Windstar to the pilot boat. He made it. I wouldn’t have tried. The pilot ended on the deck of the boat waving his arms in victory.

    No drama in Malaga.

    Yesterday in Almeria Windstar was tied up at the dock preparing to depart. The pilot boat came alongside, the pilot reached for the ladder and – sploosh. He fell into the fooking drink. From a stationary pilot boat to a tied up cruise ship, go figure. So they fished his ass out of the water and took him someplace where he could dry off and get some new clothes. That delayed us an hour. People are still laughing. I know the poor guy will never live it down.

    Today, Cartagena. I watched the pilot come aboard so we’re OK. I’m sure that if he hadn’t already heard the story, he has now.

    Seems like they should call this coast the Costa del Clouds and Rain, but it’s sunny and beautiful this AM.

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  42. Jerry said on April 21, 2016 at 6:44 am

    Old proverb: a woman a dog and a walnut tree, the more you beat them the better they be. I understand walnut trees are beaten to bring down the nuts and to promote more nuts but dogs and women!

    I have half a memory of an O’Henry story where a new bride was distressed because her husband didn’t come home drunk and beat her. The advice was to threaten him with violence which would bring out his macho side and he would show his love by knocking her about. The unfortunate result was that the husband apologised for upsetting her and did the washing up.

    Strange ideas.

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  43. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 21, 2016 at 7:13 am

    MichaelG, in the Aubrey/Maturin series of nautical tales by Patrick O’Brian, the doctor (who is a landlubber at heart right down to the 20th volume) has an ongoing problem getting from various gigs, barges, and boats onto the ship he’s to board without falling between them into the water. And O’Brian describes what’s involved clearly enough to make me feel as if that’s exactly what would happen to me.

    The first few books in the “Aubreiad” take place mostly in the waters you’re sailing, too.

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