My family used to spend a good part of our summers at Cape Cod every year. One year, we were at the Cape over the July 4th week. A couple of the families got together for an excellent fireworks show at Brooks park, and we all gathered at the ‘Hansen’ family house afterwards. Dave Hansen, the host, was a self proclaimed World War II hero, equal parts John Wayne and Gary Cooper. His household was operated in a strict military fashion. Besides his wife, he had two kids, Laura and young Dave.
That night, about 12 people were gathered in the Hansen family living room, the kids drinking root beer floats and the adults nursing cocktails.
The kids would take turns telling stories about a variety of topics, and we would all reward the storytellers with a laugh.
Finally, it was young Dave Hansen’s turn to tell a story. Now, we all knew that young Dave had appropriateness issues, and we were soon to be reminded why.
Young Dave told the group that he had witnessed a young man spray paint ‘F_ck you, b_tch’ on the sidewalk near his home.
The horrified group went silent.
After about 30 shocked seconds, elder Dave ordered young Dave into the bathroom. As he moved, elder Dave pulled his thick leather belt from his pants, and he immediately began savagely striking his son about a dozen times. Since the door was open, we could clearly hear the crack of leather on flesh.
I felt a combination of fear, revulsion, and nausea.
Young Dave never returned to the living room, and we soon made an awkward exit.
You might think that this horrible incident presented an opportunity for a family discussion, but that didn’t happen. Dad never spoke of it, and I didn’t either.
But I am fairly certain that this incident sealed my views on the brutal beating of children.
And it has been more then 50 years, and my feelings remain the same.
And they shall remain that way for another 50 years.