Early in 1951, across America, there began an outbreak of teenage girls being spanked. Over the next two decades it went from sea to shining sea, from Maine and Florida to Washington State and California, taking in most points in between. The earliest documented case was in Arlington, Texas, on March 23 – participants unknown. Less than two weeks later, in Dupo, Illinois, Mary Ellen Richert was spanked twice on consecutive days, April 4 and 5, and April 6 was a bad night for the bottoms of both Pam Egeler in East Lansing, Michigan, and Nancy Clarke in Leechburg, Pennsylvania. Here’s Nancy getting her spanking from Jim Doyle:
You might think there’s nothing very out of the ordinary about this: after all, a good spanking was an everyday hazard for a naughty girl in early ’50s America. But the cause of the epidemic wasn’t a sudden upsurge in teen misbehavior. The spanked girls were all appearing in a play, Men are Like Streetcars, dramatized by Christopher Sergel (1918-93) from the 1932 novel of the same title by Graeme and Sarah Lorimer.
Sergel’s main métier as a dramatist was turning novels, movies and television shows, ranging from To Kill a Mockingbird to Get Smart, into stage plays that were offered for production by amateur dramatic companies and high schools. His agency was the old-established Chicago firm, the Dramatic Publication Company; he eventually rose to become its President in 1970, and held that office for the rest of his life. The company still offers many of his plays, including another with a spanking scene that we’ll come to later in the series, though sadly Streetcars was retired from active service long ago.
The play’s central character, and the center of our interest, is Maudie Mason, an exasperating, meddlesome, essentially good-hearted teenager who proved so popular that the Lorimers went on to write another three books about her. Sergel’s script describes her as ‘a very delightful and precociously astute girl’. But unfortunately, ‘There is no personal problem too big for Maudie to solve. She knows all the answers – and never hesitates to give them.’ The title of the play is one of her pearls of wisdom: ‘Men are like streetcars: if you miss one, there’s sure to be another along soon.’
Maudie’s big problem in life is her elder sister, Sylvia: she gets to go to all the parties and she gets all the boys, while Maudie herself is treated like a little girl. She becomes so frustrated that she decides she has to get Sylvia out of the family home by finding her a husband – and at 19 years of age, believes Maudie, Sylvia is nearly an old maid, so the ‘streetcars’ maxim can’t apply to her. She does her best to get Sylvia together with Ted, the son of a banker who is considering her father and his partner, Jerry, for a business loan. She isn’t aware that Sylvia actually loves Jerry, and has done ever since high school.
Near the end of the second act, a household party is in the offing, when Jerry confronts Maudie with her lies which are ruining Sylvia’s reputation, and incidentally seem to have caused the bank to go cold on the loan.
JERRY (burning): Maudie, if you don’t tell everyone the truth –
MAUDIE: Is this a home or a police station?
JERRY (determined, crossing directly to her): You’re going to explain everything and put a stop to all this foolishness.
MAUDIE (he must be crazy): Do you want to spoil it?
JERRY (snapping at her): Spoil what?
MAUDIE: Jerry – what’s the matter with you?
JERRY (his anger mounting): You haven’t answered!
MAUDIE (really surprised, backing away a step): I’ve never seen you like this.
JERRY (barely able to control his temper): What did you say to Ted?
MAUDIE: You ought to be able to figure out what would intrigue a man. (Taunting him.) You are a man – or are you?
JERRY: That did it!
With this, he grabs Maudie by the back of her neck. He sits on sofa and pushes her head down so that she falls over his lap. He grabs up a magazine from table right of sofa and starts spanking her with it.
(Edward Drummond Libbey High School, Toledo, Ohio, on March 16, 1955.)
JERRY: You’ve had this coming for sixteen years – of all the meddling – self-important – imbecilic – brats!
MAUDIE (at the same time, wailing): Let go of me! Owww! Help! Murder! Stop it! Owwww!
Ted has come in during the spanking. He crosses to Jerry and slaps him on the back.
TED: Hey! Cut it out – you wife-beater!
Maudie scrambles away, and with her back turned, tries to straighten herself out.
Jerry’s line is obviously meant to be delivered so that each adjective coincides with a smack on her bottom, and this establishes the minimum duration of the spanking in any production: it just can’t be done in fewer than four smacks, probably more since Ted needs to have time to come in, see what’s happening, cross the stage and intervene.
Ted offers to throw Jerry out, but Maudie wants more than that: ‘I want you to kill him.’ Jerry urges her to be sanguine: ‘Don’t take it too hard. Now you’re one of those lucky girls that’s been on my lap.’ A stage direction calls for Maudie to rub ‘where she was hit’, but she is able to sit down on the sofa soon afterwards.
(The scene is a close adaptation of what happens in the book, in which Maudie describes how Jerry ‘reached up and grabbed me by the back of my neck and pushed my head down so I fell over his lap, where he was spanking me with the Saturday Evening Post’. )
Maudie later complains to Sylvia: ‘He struck me! Repeatedly.’ But her meddling has a good outcome: Jerry sends Sylvia flowers for the first time since high school. And, Sylvia explains to her mother, ‘he was so mad at Maudie for promoting Ted, he gave her a paddling’. Mrs Mason smiles. ‘I’m sorry I missed that,’ she says.
Things get worse before they get better, but in the end Mr Mason gets his loan and Sylvia gets Jerry – who warns Maudie, ‘In the future you lay off the cupid stuff, or I’ll whale you again.’
An early review of the script called the play ‘one of the best character studies of an adolescent girl that has come along in quite a while’ (Interscholastic Leaguer, March 1951), and one reason for high schools to select it for production was the many opportunities it offers for girls to participate: of the sixteen roles, only five are for men. But it was also often said that one scene in particular appealed to the teen sense of humor: accounts of performances often describe the spanking as the play’s high point. For instance, at the Quakertown Community High School, Pennsylvania, where this was the senior play by the Class of 1952, there was ‘rollicking laughter produced when Bill Price spanked Cynthia King for meddling in his affairs’. Here’s Cynthia being spanked:
… but you’ll just have to imagine the rollicking laughter for yourselves!
High schools across America regularly produced plays in the junior and senior years as a social and educative experience for the students: they learnt teamwork and practical skills, and the plays usually taught lessons about decent behavior and social responsibility, which meant that a fair few of them included spankings for naughty girls who crossed the line. We’ll encounter some of them in later installments. But Streetcars was a high school phenomenon. Although publicity for the 1951 Dupo production enthusiastically spoke of it as a ‘Broadway classic’, it was never professionally produced; in fact, I know of only one non-school production, given by the Fayetteville Dramatic Club, West Virginia, on August 8, 1952. But that may simply be because school productions are easier to track down, thanks to that annual monument to teenage enthusiasm, optimism and narcissism, the high school yearbook, many of which are now freely available online.
Each year, in most schools, a book would be compiled by members of the outgoing senior class, documenting the school’s activities and achievements of the year, or else those of the class in the longer course of its school career. There is usually a record of the school’s dramatic productions for that year (and sometimes also the year before, if the editors were more interested in what their particular class did, even as juniors). Often there would be photographs from the production, obviously concentrating on the scenes that were considered the highlights. And, like I said before, the highlight of Streetcars was the spanking scene!
Now we’re going to take an overview of the whole history of the play, school year by school year, from its beginnings to its eventual demise. I won’t document every single production – even if I could guarantee its comprehensiveness, such a list would be laborious to compile and tedious to read – but I shall aim to show at least one photo from each school year, except for a handful where the play was either not produced at all, or no spanking photos have so far come to light. Maudie Mason, prepare to be spanked, and spanked, and spanked again!
There were at least 29 productions in what was, remember, only really half a year since the play wasn’t released until early 1951. We’ve already seen one from Pennsylvania, and here’s another from South Kitsap High School, Port Orchard, Washington State, where Streetcars was the junior play. Maudie is played by Emarlyn Repanich, and she is being spanked by Harry Macomber:
There were at least 98 productions. The example selected here was at Oconomowoc High School, Wisconsin, on March 13, 1952, and shows Sandra Lewis getting her bottom spanked:
With so many productions, and only so many days in the year, it’s not very surprising to find that many performances took place on exactly the same day – which means that the spankings must all have been happening more or less simultaneously! There are several particular ‘golden days’ when this phenomenon occurred, but the record-breaker was Friday, November 16, 1951, with no fewer than seven simultaneous performances, though of course we have to allow for a slight variation across two US time zones.
Starting with Eastern Standard Time, we could visit the senior play at East High School, Auburn, New York, where Ann Melrose is being spanked by the class president, Edward Nemec, though this is one where we don’t have a picture. Meanwhile, over in Mount Vernon, Ohio, Ann Tabor is over the knees of Ron Haltermon:
And at the Harris-Elmore High School in the same state, the same fate has befallen a junior of unknown name:
… while up in Michigan, Streetcars was also the junior play at Saline High School, with John McCoy administering the spanking. We don’t know to whom, because the yearbook editors not only failed to include a photo of the spanking but also ineptly left Maudie off the cast list – but whoever she was, she could look forward to a second dose the following night.
Meanwhile, in the Central time zone, Patricia Yarne has the opposite problem: yesterday she was soundly spanked by Kenneth Zipperer in the senior play at South Division High School, Milwaukee, and now faces a repeat performance tonight:
Next we go down from Wisconsin to Illinois, where Doreen Zimmerman is being spanked by Milton Sherman in the junior play at Eureka High School – another one with a second performance to come on the Saturday night, and another one with no picture. And finally, at Greenville High School, the junior play is already on its second performance, and Pat Pacatte’s bottom is undergoing stern measures from Norman Taylor.
That was a Friday evening when the East and Midwest fairly resounded with spankings! And who knows, there may even have been other performances whose date can’t now be pinned down exactly…
There were at least 57 productions. Our example takes us back to Pennsylvania, where Richard Steyert is spanking Peggy Lewis in the Allentown High School junior play:
There’s a bonus this year. The next photo has been shown before elsewhere, but it’s such an interesting historical curio that it cries out to be seen in its period context:
Now, that didn’t happen anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon Line! In fact it’s the junior play at the obviously admirably liberal Chaffey High School, Ontario, California. Jerry is Joe Agopay, and the indignity of the spanking, and the spanking alone, is being suffered by Karen Ellsworth as Maudie.
There were at least 27 productions: the play had been a smash hit in the first eighteen months of its existence, and now it was settling down as a solid item in the available repertory, gradually mopping up schools that hadn’t yet got to it. Fans of Maudie Mason were also now able to produce a second play about her, the sequel Stag Line, in which Maudie interferes some more, but regrettably doesn’t get another spanking, despite Jerry’s ‘lay off the cupid stuff’ threat towards the end of Streetcars. But of course justice continued to be done in Streetcars itself. For example, the junior play at St Joseph High School, Michigan, featured this spanking, administered to Carol Milnikel by Paul Hurd:
There were at least 39 productions. This year we go to Arizona and the junior play at Yuma Union High School:
This year, with a minimum of just 16 productions, marks the point when the play’s fortunes really began to drop off slowly. But the Maudie Mason phenomenon continued to expand with the release of the third play in the series, Maudie and the Opposite Sex – a title that schools sometimes shortened to just Maudie, no doubt in order to get rid of the final word. Maudie again escaped unspanked in her encounter with the opposite genital group, but here’s what you would have seen Jack Sartin doing to Linda Hensley if you attended the junior production of Streetcars at Carthage High School, Missouri, on November 3 and 4, 1955:
There were at least 15 productions. Now we’re headed down south, to Louisiana. Here is the spanking scene as it featured in the junior play at Annunciation High School in New Orleans:
There were at least 16 productions. This one is the junior play at Greenfield High School, Indiana, with Dave Heller as Jerry and Linda Fleming as Maudie:
Interestingly, the school also produced Stag Line, the sequel, that same year, but with a different student playing Maudie.
There were at least 9 productions. To Illinois now, and the senior play at Belvidere High school, where Craig Auman had two months of rehearsals to perfect his spanking technique on Georgeann Gibson before putting it into practice before an audience on April 30 and May 1, 1959:
There were at least 14 productions. Here’s the junior play at Canfield High School, Ohio:
There were at least 7 productions. The senior play at Charleroi High School, Pennsylvania, with Ronald Applbaum and Barbara Cantoni, illustrates how the newspapers used to love a good spanking scene.
The second, clearer photograph, snapped a few moments later at the same rehearsal, is the one that appeared in the yearbook.
There were at least 10 productions, the last year I have a number in double figures. The picture is from Cocalico High School, Denver, Pennsylvania, and shows Gerald Longenecker making an impact on Dorothy Goode in the junior play:
There were at least 3 productions, but only one left a spanking photo. Happily it’s an excellent one, from East Rutherford High School, New Jersey, where Streetcars was the junior play and Barbara Flenner was Maudie:
There were at least 5 productions, but again only one photograph, another good one from Kansas High School, Illinois. It’s the senior play, with Roy Ballinger and Ginny Washburn:
I’ve always thought that in this photo Ginny looks a lot like Carole Ann Ford, who was playing Doctor Who’s granddaughter Susan over in Britain at the exact same time, and who was famously threatened with ‘a jolly good smacked bottom’ in one of her episodes!
There’s another bit of trivia from this year to recount, concerning the production at Chillicothe High School, Missouri. Susan Burton was due to have her bottom spanked by Harry Hargrave, but it’s very likely that she escaped, or at least was granted a temporary reprieve. The reason? The performance was scheduled for November 22, 1963… and it’s unlikely many Americans wanted to see a bright teen comedy on that particular evening, after the afternoon’s events in Dallas…
At this point in the play’s history, with the clear downturn in its popularity, the Dramatic Publishing Company decided it needed a makeover, which meant in practice, giving it a new title. Out went Men are Like Streetcars, and in came It Couldn’t Happen to a Nicer Girl.
There were at least 4 productions, half of them under the new title, and once again we have but a single option when it comes to spanking photographs. This is from Cambridge High School, Ohio, where it was presented as the junior play on April 24, 1965. Jerry is played by a (not the) James Mason, and Carole Shelby is Maudie:
There were at least 5 productions, one of which (at Martinsville High School, Indiana) used the old Streetcars title for the last time. Meanwhile, the spanking that couldn’t happen to a nicer girl happened to Gay Griffith in the senior play at Idabel High School, Oklahoma, courtesy of Bobby Franklin:
There were at least 4 productions, but again there’s no choice for us in the spanking photo: off we go to Wyandotte High School, Kansas City, where Chris Harris is spanking Vivian Poje:
It’s an interesting footnote that this was the second time the school had produced the play, and both productions were directed by the same teacher, William Knapp. Here’s his first production, in the school year 1957-58, with John Richeson and Bonnie Bachert:
Comparing the two pictures brings out one obvious point of contrast, a subject we’ll come back to after we’ve finished this survey of the play’s history…
… which will not take us long, because in this year there were no known productions…
… and in this year, although there were at least two productions, I have photographs from neither of them.
There were at least two productions, but only the one at Prescott High School, Arizona, in February 1970, comes with a picture. Jerry was played by senior Scott Sturdevant. Here’s how he appeared elsewhere in his high school yearbook:
And Maudie was junior Mazie Rice, seen here in costume for the production.
Given the way teen fashion was going at the time, she probably had to wear a pantsuit for the spanking scene!
(Incidentally, anyone trying to tell you that’s a teacher/pupil spanking doesn’t know that the teacher responsible for the production was named Mrs Ethel B. Tyson.)
And from here on, the history just gets patchy. There were at least two more productions, one at Piqua High School, Ohio, on March 10, 1973, with Garry Shirk spanking Leslie Tyler, which provides the latest known spanking photograph from the play…
… and one in the school year 1973-4 at Hood River Valley High School in Oregon, but for this final outing we don’t even know the name of the girl who played Maudie. And then the play disappeared into obscurity. At some point, the Dramatic Publishing Company stopped offering it, so it remains the least likely of Christopher Sergel’s plays to be picked up again.
Have you been keeping count? That gives us a grand total of at least 364 productions, and that’s only the ones I’ve been able to find using easily accessible online archives – in fact, it must be only the tip of the iceberg! So that’s an awful lot of American girls who were soundly spanked in the name of art!
In fact, it’s even more than 364, because at least six of the productions were double cast: in order to spread opportunity and participation across a large student body, two different girls played Maudie in different performances. For instance, here is John MacFarlane spanking Shirley Fekety in the senior play ay Edgewood High School, Pennsylvania, on December 7, 1951:
But if you’d seen the performance the day before, you’d have seen Patricia Hoyer being spanked by Ross Flanagan – though sadly there’s no photographic record of that event!
One notable feature of that last picture is the ‘magazine in motion’ effect, and it raises the subject of authenticity. High school students are not trained actors, so you wouldn’t expect many of them to have the knack of making a spanking look convincing without actually doing it for real. We have at least one bit of testimony confirming that a Streetcars spanking was genuine, from Madison Memorial High School, Ohio, where it was the junior play on November 22, 1957. The yearbook later said that one of the few ‘unfortunate experiences’ associated with what was otherwise a much enjoyed production was: ‘Maudie’s overworked backside’. And if you want to know what it looks like to overwork a girl’s backside, well, here’s the scene:
Now, you’ll have noticed that more than half of the spankings we’ve seen so far have been ‘left-handers’, with the girl’s head pointing to the left, like this:
(By the way, that’s Julia Shank being spanked by Richard Wenger in the 1952-53 senior play at Elizabethtown Area High School, Pennsylvania.)
This phenomenon isn’t because of a disproportionate number of southpaw Jerries – in fact, there are some shots where he is using his right hand to spank her even though she is in the ‘left-handed’ OTK position, like this:
(This Maudie is Berdine Heckaman, in the 1951-52 junior play at Bremen High School, Indiana.)
And even when they rehearsed it right-handed, as David Adams and Nancy Beagle did for the junior play at Whitney Point High School, New York…
… when it came to the three actual performances, on March 23-25, 1955, the left-hand position had asserted itself:
There are actually two reasons why this kept on happening. The first is the way the scene is written. You’ll remember that, true to the novel, the stage direction specifies that Jerry takes hold of Maudie by the scruff of her neck and forces her down across his knee. When a right-hander does that, the girl will go down with her bottom under his left hand, as seen in this picture from Battle Creek High School, Michigan, where Streetcars was the 1951 junior play:
The other consideration is the scene’s ‘blocking’: where the scenery and actors are positioned on stage. Like most plays of this era that were published with a view to amateur production, the Streetcars script includes a diagram showing how the stage is to be set:
The sofa is set to stage left (which is the right-hand side of the stage from the audience’s point of view). This means that the right-handed OTK position puts Maudie’s face a long way over towards the edge of the stage area, throwing focus off her reaction to the spanking and putting her lower half closer to center stage. You may get an inkling of the effect in this splendid picture from May 19, 1962, showing Ed Hillson spanking Linda Cole at Berea High School, Ohio:
And a clearer sense of the advantages of the left-handed position emerges when you see how the sofa sits on the whole stage, as in this one of the 1954-55 junior play at Audubon High School, New Jersey:
But the script didn’t always rule every detail of the play in every production. For one thing, only about half of the productions seem to have stuck to the script and had Maudie spanked with a magazine. The other Maudies, like Jo Ann Elsea in the 1951-52 junior play at Southport High School, Indianapolis, felt the palm of Jerry’s hand across their bottoms:
(For those who want to know, that Jerry is Bennie Wise.)
Moreover, when she is spanked in the second act, Maudie is preparing for a party, and the script specifies that she wears ‘an attractive informal party dress’. So she does, sometimes, like Margy Murray at Northborough High School, Massachusetts, where she was spanked by Arnie Prudhomme on December 6, 1956:
But in the play’s earliest years, you would be just as likely to see her portrayed as a tomboy in jeans, as in this 1951-52 production from Windber Area High School, Pennsylvania:
Sometimes her party ensemble includes a pair of elegant court shoes with heels, like Norma Jones, who was spanked by Bill Ferguson on November 19, 1954, in the junior play at Pittsfield High School, Illinois:
But she might also be a bobby-soxer in flatties, like Renate Griemsmann’s Maudie at Oceanside High School, New York, in 1954-55, here being spanked by Richard Bozek:
And mention of socks brings us to the junior play at Bullard High School, Fresno, California, on November 21, 1958. I don’t have a photo of Lindy Cope across Terril LeMoss’ knee, but this shot of the immediate aftermath makes me really wish I did:
And as we move into the 1960s, more and more Maudies opted for elegant pantsuits, like Kathleen Nyman at Haddonfield Memorial High School, New Jersey, where she was spanked in the junior play by Robert Johnson on March 9 and 10, 1962…
… or, right on the other side of the country at Oceana High School, Pacifica, California, Robin Pappas, whose spanking took place across Greg Vallee’s knee on May 4, 1966:
But how I wish the later ’60s and early ’70s were better documented!
If you have enjoyed these pictures, you can find many more here. But remember, everything in this article, except for the script of the play, was compiled from resources that are freely available on the internet. This is research that anyone who’s interested can do for themselves, and there must be a lot of material out there still waiting to be found and shared. Streetcars spanking pics are like streetcars… there’ll always be another one along soon!
Note: Figures for numbers of productions correct at the time this article was republished; more will no doubt be discovered in the future!