We had never been to the farm before, and had no idea what to expect. Thirty minutes after we left town, we arrived at our destination and climbed down from the cab of the truck. Les and Marie got out of the truck bed and immediately went into the house like little lambs being led to the slaughter. They were certainly not acting normally. Rosie and I looked at one another, waiting for the hammer to fall (so to speak), and it did.
Looking around, we saw a well-tended farm with fences that were maintained and not falling down, like I had expected them to be. I saw fields with stubble on them where some kind of plants had been harvested, finding out later that it had been Burley tobacco. I also spotted a big barn and saw chickens pecking around in the barn yard.
We were not allowed to linger in the yard, but soon were hustled into the house, where my grandma gave my grandpa a silent nod, where upon he removed his belt. All at once, I knew what was coming, because I had had that very thing done to me before. It dawned on me then that was where my Da had learned his habit of beating us. My grandma held my little brother and sister so they had to watch.
Grandpa Shane O'Hanlon grabbed me by the arm and began giving me lashes with his belt. I had determined that I would not cry, but it was more than I could bear, and so finally broke down after five lashes. He then said, "That is for striking your grandmother with a kettle. You and your big sister come with me, now."
Taking each of us by the arm, he took us to his wife, our Grandma; she opened the door to what I found out next was the cellar. There was one lone bulb over the stairway. The switch was inside the kitchen, and she took us down the shadowy stairs, where the coal furnace was located, and pieces of old furniture were stacked. She then went back up the stairs and turned out the light.
Rosie began screaming. (To be continued)