"Debby Boone So Far"
Debby Boone with Dennis Baker
Thomas Nelson Publishers
(Debby is telling about a talk with her sister, Cherry, while
they sit on the bathroom floor in a Tokyo hotel while on tour.
Debby's father had gotten angry at her when he suspected her of
smoking cigarettes. She was 15 at this time.)
(Cherry) "Now look, Debby. I know what it's like. And I
admit that Daddy doesn't always handle situations the best way
possible. But I swear to you, his motives are right."
(Debby) "He's smothering me!"
"He loves you. He's concerned and he's trying to raise us
the best way possible. He wants so much to protect you from
danger. All kindsphysical, emotional, and spiritual. He's
just trying to save you from making mistakes that could really
hurt you. Can't you see that? If he didn't care
(Debby) "Love? Restrictions, accusations, rules,
spankingsthat's all I see! I don't see any love. I hate
being in trouble all the time. I hate not being allowed to
do anything fun. I hate being accused of every darn thing that
happens. I hate
(Debby noted that she began to be in real conflict with her
father after the age of 12.)
My father and I clashed constantly. He didn't seem to understand
me. I would get spanked for what he called "glaring" at
him. We would be fighting about something, and he would grab my
face and shove it towards a mirror. "Do you see that look?
Do you think that's pretty? Do you?" In an instant, the look
would change; my face would soften. "What look?" I
would ask demurely. "I'm sorry if you don't like my face,
but it's the only one I've got."
(Debby is relating a conversation she and sister Lindy had when
they volunteered to work for a year in a home for children with
"emotional disturbances". Debby is 18 at this time.)
"You know," she (Lindy) began. "I've really had to
face up to some things, watching these kids. The ones I've gotten
to know have been raised in homes where discipline is either
hit-and-miss or nonexistent."
"I know what you're going to say," I interrupted.
"And I hate to admit it, but I'm beginning to agree. I still
think Dad and Mom were overprotective with us, but I have to say
that I can see some good in the way they set boundaries and
really enforced them."
"Yeah, have you seen it? Most of the time, when one of the
kids starts having a fit, he's really asking someone to give
order and direction to his life," Lindy said.
"Even if it means having someone sit on him," I added.
"Remember how Daddy used to tell us we were just asking for
"Yeah, I guess we were, toosometimes."
Spankings, however, were not part of the program at the school.
Instead, the staff had two major procedures for controlling the
children's behaviorin addition, that is, to wrestling them
to the ground and sitting on them. One was drugs
was a system of rewards.
By the standards that governed the school, spankings were
regarded as detrimental. But are they, really? I wondered. Are
drugs and sugar a better way to handle behavior problems?
The Last Spanking (the name of the chapter)
(This is the summer of 1976. Debby is 19.)
"After the end of the Vinyard Bible School in the spring,
our family started a tour of one-nighters which ended at the Ohio
State Fair. The last show was marked with a tinge of melancholy.
The chances were unlikely we'd be performing again as a family,
since Lindy and Cherry were both soon to be married.
After we said goodbye to our musicians and staff with many hugs
and a few tears, my sisters and I trudged back to the hotel. Mom
and Dad weren't there yet, still at the fairgrounds finishing up
business. It was late, but I was hungry. I knew the hotel
restaurant and coffee shop were closed, so I decided to get
something out of the vending machine in the hallway. As I headed
out the door, I neglected to say where I was going and just told
the others I'd be back in a minute.
Out in the hallway, I changed my mind and took the elevator down
to the lobby. There were more food machines on the first floor. I
stepped out of the elevator, and there was our drummer, Bobby. He
and I had developed a close friendship over the years that he had
worked for the family.
"You feeling a little down, too?"
"Yeah. I really am. It's so strange to think of this whole
thing coming to an end and all of us going our separate
We began to reminisce, and I could see that Bobby wanted to talk
his feelings out a little bit. Though I knew my family would be
wondering what had become of me, I hung around and listend.
Meanwhile, upstairs, Mom and Dad arrived back in our rooms and
began to get worried as my absence lengthened. Pretty quickly
they started out to look for me.
I guess I had been out of the room a little less than half an
hour when I spotted Daddy striding firmly toward us from the
elevators. I saw that look on his face which said I was in
trouble. I thought to myself, This could mean a scene. Bobby's
going to end up feeling worse than before. He'll think he's
responsible for getting me into trouble with Daddy. My whole plan
of offering him comfort was suddenly backfiring.
I quickly decided what to do.
"Where have you been?" Daddy demanded as he walked up.
"Oh, just standing here talking with Bobby a few minutes. I
came down to get a snack out of one of the machines."
Keeping cool and smiling, I was trying to keep a lid on the
situatoin and spare Bobby. That turned out not to be such a wise
"You've been gone thirty minutes. Didn't it occur to you we
might get worried about you this time of night?" My attempt
to be cool had been seen as total indifference.
I persisted with my plan. "Well, no, I didn't think it was
any big deal. We were just having a harmless conversation."
"No big deal?" Daddy glared.
"Why, what's wrong? Did you need me for something?" Now
I was beginning to feel very uncomfortable and angry, too.
"You just come upstairs with me right now."
I had set down a full ice bucket and candy bar on a chair across
the hall, and I turned to pick them up.
"I said now!" Daddy was furious.
"I'm just getting the bucket," I explained, still
hoping my cool attitude would control the situation and make it
work out as I wanted. Instead, Daddy strode back to the elevators
with me, leaving Bobby behind, feeling exactly as I had not
wanted him to feel.
Daddy continued, "You act as if you can just come and go as
you pleaselike you couldn't care less what worry it might
cause anybody else."
I wanted to say I was sorry, but I couldn't. I was locked into my
routine of being cool, despite its obvious failure. I felt
trapped by my own behavior. And Daddy was getting madder by the
The whole family was gathered in my room. "I found her
chatting in the hall off the lobby with Bobby," Daddy
announced. "She doesn't seem to understand why we might have
I flushed with anger and embarrasment.
Daddy turned back to me. "Now just what was so important for
the two of you to be talking about so intently at this
"Well, we were both feeling a little sad about tonight.
"What do you two have to be so sad about?" Daddy's tone
was more demanding than inquiring.
Resenting his condescending attitude, I snapped back, "If
you don't know, I'm not going to tell you!"
Nothing I could have said would have enraged my dad more at that
"What did you say?" he yelled.
The ice bucket fell from my hand and sent ice sailing across the
Daddy grabbed my arm. "Don't you ever talk to me that
way!" I began to pull away as he tried to lay me over his
knee for a spanking. In the struggle, Daddy's arm slipped and his
elbow struck me in the head.
"Oh, my God!" I screamed. "You hit me in the
head!" I proceeded to fall over on the bed, crying. That
distracted him for a moment and picked up sympathy for me from my
sisters. In fact, the whole scene must have looked pretty bad,
and a couple of the girls started crying. My mom had even yelled
out, "Pat, be careful!" during the struggle.
The phone rang. My dad answered it and after a minute said,
"Look, Bobby, I know you think it's your fault, but it's
not. This is entirely between Debby and me. I'm sorry, but I
can't talk right now. Goodbye."
Daddy turned to me, glaring. I felt my forehead. A nice lump was
rising, just the evidence I needed to make my dad out to be the
villian and me the victim.
The phone rang again. Daddy turned to pick it up. I looked over
at Laury. She was lying on the bed, seething with anger at my
father for being so rough with me. She looked back at me as if to
say, "Don't you hate him for this?"
It was just the response I had wanted. But at that very moment,
something clicked in my mind. The whole scene flashed before
meand, strangely, I could see it from my dad's point of
view as well as my own. I had never been quite so free to do that
before. The anger drained away, and I couldn't savor the
expression on Laury's face any longer. I smiled to indicate that
everything was going to be alright.
I turned and walked into the bathroom and began to wash my face.
Bobby had called Daddy back, and this time my father couldn't get
off the line so quickly. As the cool water rinsed my face, I
looked in the mirrorand laughed. I was no amusing picture,
with big red eyes and that throbbing lump on my forehead. The
whole thing had been pretty silly, actually.
Then I saw Daddy's face in the mirror. He wasn't glaring. He put
a hand on my shoulder and said, "Debby, why don't you meet
me in my room in a minute?"
(Speaking of friend Donna Freburg and another friend, when they
"I remember another time the three of us were together, this
time staying overnight at Donna's home.
Around midnight we
lit up, giggling at each other, trying to blow smoke rings and
choking on inhaled smoke.
"When Donna's mom opened the door, we were all tucked in,
pretending to be asleep. Unfortunately, the swirling smoke from
all corners of the room gave us away."
we got a much-deserved lecture for having
stupidly created a fire hazard by our attempts to conceal the
evidence. I was grateful not to have been in my own home
that night. If I had been, I would have received a good spanking,
in addition to the lecture."
"As do most sisters who get together after a long
separation, we reminisced about less serious times growing up.
Laury was quick to remind me that I usually had been the
instigator of trouble and the ringleader whenever my sisters and
I were disobedient. Yet often, if we were caught, they were
punished instead of me."
"When Laury and I were about six or seven, we shared a
bedroom. Every afternoon about 1:00 my mother sent us to our room
for a nap. One day we were horsing around instead of sleeping and
accidentally knocked over a big lamp. The clatter was sure to
attract attention. I heard someone coming down the hall toward
our room. Jumping under the covers, I left Laury to face our
angry father. He caught her out of bed and she got the spanking,
while I pretended to wake up startled from all the noise."
"Spankings, especially from my father, were not just a
perfunctory pat on the behind. He meant for us to remember them
and used a slipper, belt, or anything else that stung. The number
of whacks on our bare bottoms depended as much on our reaction to
being caught as the offense itself. We could expect more if
we had lied or talked back."
"Often with tears still fresh in our eyes, the four of us
would go up to my room and compare war wounds. Bending over, we'd
back up to the mirror to see whose backsides had the reddest
marks. Mine were always the worst, mainly because I had the most
"Another time Laury was paddled when I deserved it came when
we were playing "truth or dare." The game involved a
choice between answering any embarrassing questions the other
players could think up or accepting a dare to do crazy or
sometimes dangerous things. One summer at camp, I made others eat
horse manure and even tried it myself. At home, I had been known
to dare my sisters to jump from tall trees or rooftops."
"This time I made Laury take off her clothes and ride her
bicycle around the driveway. She was only nine, nothing too
obscene, but there she went after we taunted her sufficiently.
Our family home is right on a busy intersection, and Laury had to
ride around our circular driveway and out onto the
sidewalkfive times in all. Lindy and I hid in the
bushes, laughing hysterically, especially when a tour bus drove
by to show out-of-state visitors "the homes of the
"Laury was tooling around on her fourth trip, when our
mother came back from a shopping trip. The car screeched to a
halt in the driveway, and Laury was grabbed off that bike almost
quicker than we knew it. Lindy and I stifled our laughter as we
watched Laury's bare behind disappear through the front door
under my mother's strong right arm."
"I never said a word to protect Laury. She had once told me
she'd rather take the punishment than watch me get paddled. That
was fine with me. I figured at the time that if she was that
dumb, I wouldn't stand in her way. Today, I recognize that Laury
wasn't dumb. What I mistook as stupidity was really the seed of
warm sensitivity and compassion for other people."
"Even when I was looking at them with hate in my eyes [her
parents], they still didn't let me go where they thought I
shouldn't be. I guess deep down a small part of me recognized
their motive; they really loved me and were concerened about me.
They never showed anything different. I'd get spankings, and I'd
get punished, but I was always told everyday, "We love
you." After a spanking, they'd make me hug them, and
sometimes that would make me the angriestbut when I really
thought about it, or when I had to get down to the basics, I knew
that a lot of my friends who were allowed to do things I wanted
to do had parents who just really didn't care."