Much of what passes for “entertainment” nowadays lacks inconvenient truths that used to be called life lessons or morals.
Season 3 episode 21 of the Andy Griffith show, aside from the bad example of the main characters lighting up a cigarette now and then, depicts a lesson in responsibility. Opie, played by Ronnie Howard, Sheriff Andy Taylor’s son, is approached by a newcomer to Mayberry as Opie is in the process of cleaning out the garage for a quarter. The new kid in town gives lessons to Opie about how to get what he wants by throwing a tantrum; for example the new top-of-the-line bicycle Opie is admiring. The new kid says Opie is a fool to work for an allowance when kids are “entitled” to an allowance.
Keep in mind this episode was aired in 1963 on the cusp of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society which was just a remake and an expansion of FDR’s New Deal which translates to “Lots of free stuff.” This was the dawn of the death of personal responsibility.
Opie tries out the tantrum tactic trying to get an increase in his allowance without the conditions of performing any chores to deserve it, much to the sheriff’s consternation. About the same time the new kid appears with his father, who demands that Sheriff Taylor release the kid’s bicycle from impound where it was placed when the new kid continued to ride on the sidewalk even after just being warned that it was against the law.
The showdown escalates to the point where the kid challenges the sheriff to throw his father in jail and at that point the kid throws a crying jag to everyone’s embarrassment.
Andy finally caves in and tells the shame-faced father to go get the bike from impound in the woodshed behind the jail.
The actor who plays the part of the kid’s father does a great job of telegraphing a sudden sense of resolution when he asks, “You have a woodshed?” A knowing look passes between the two men as the sheriff says knowingly, “We sure do!”
Now everyone viewing the show who were raised in that era knows the ramifications of the term “woodshed” as the spoiled brat is also about to learn.
“Going to the woodshed” was the result of the consequences of one’s actions. The sense of responsibility for one’s actions or sometimes even words was impressed painfully inside the confines of the woodshed where any humiliation was hidden from public view.
The tears soon disappeared but the lesson was not soon forgotten.
I remember my father’s razor strap. I never felt it, but I heard it.
We kids would all be squabbling, usually in the kitchen, while dad was reading the paper in the living room. Suddenly dad would appear in the kitchen doorway where he reached for the razor strap. He would press the ends of the two-piece strap toward each other to form a hollow, then smartly snap the two together with a “pow!” like a pistol shot, and peace descended immediately. Mom would merely give us all a look that said, “You should have listened to me when I said to knock it off!”
They say, and I don’t know who “they” are, that smacking a kid on the butt is abuse. Obviously I don’t agree. In this age where every kid gets a trophy for showing up or even breathing, or attempting to use reason on someone who won’t listen is wrong-headed.
If there were more woodsheds there might be fewer jails.