The first day of spring brings us to Harold J. Gregory’s 1948 three-act comedy Springtime for Patsy, which also features something else for Patsy beginning with the letters ‘sp’. You will no doubt be glad to hear this; but Patsy herself will remain in blissful ignorance for most of the play, until…
(Melba Brick is spanked by Ronald Kohl at Gnadenhutten High School, Ohio, on November 9, 1949)
The teenage Patsy Holliday, says the script, ‘is simply adorable. Her pert manner and zest for living are as lovable as her constant posing and sense of the dramatic.’ I’m not completely sure that I share that assessment, because she makes her first appearance in the play after coming home late from school, having been given a detention for tripping up another girl at lunchtime. She then argues with her mother, cheeks or insults just about everyone else on stage and refuses to change out of her tomboy jeans: ‘being a lady is such a bore!’ The wonder is that it takes until nearly the end of the play for…
(Janice Cocking gets a spanking from Jim DeCap at Erie Community High School, Illinois, on November 17, 1950)
The story turns on the arrival of a lodger in the Holliday home, a handsome journalist in his late 20s named Todd Burke, whom Patsy immediately falls head over heels in love with. She then swiftly jilts her prom date, Chuck Ramsey, starts wearing dresses, steals her mother’s perfume and pretends to be older than she really is. To no avail: Todd is more interested in another lodger in the house, schoolteacher Mary Austin. So in an inept plan to make Todd jealous, she contrives to be kissing Chuck just as he is coming in. As it turns out, Todd gets engaged to Mary, and Patsy schemes to break them up by pretending the anniversary flowers her father has brought home were intended for Mary. The second act ends with Mr Holliday furiously threatening violence against his daughter – but only, comically, to ‘crumblize her’.
Let’s face it, Patsy isn’t adorable: she’s awful. The issue is not whether she deserves to be spanked, but how many spankings she has earned herself – and, as we shall see, that’s not just a frivolous question.
As Todd and Mary prepare to leave to get married, he remarks, ‘I’ve a good mind to give Patsy what’s coming to her!’ And then yet another wrinkle in their relationship comes up; Mary walks out, leaving Todd with Patsy.
PATSY: Hadn’t you better follow her?
TODD (crossing to her): No, Patsy – it’s you I want now!
PATSY: You mean – you love me?
PATSY (snuggling on his shoulder): Oh, Todd!
TODD (crossing to the davenport): Come over here, my dear.
PATSY (with a giddy laugh): You simply slay me!
TODD (sitting): Don’t put ideas into my head!
PATSY (turning and rushing up to him): Are you going to give me a great big smackaroo?
Suddenly taking her hand, Todd pulls her across his knee so she is in the perfect position for a spanking.
TODD: I should say I am! In fact, I’m going to smack the very stuffing out of you!
He begins to spank her roundly.
(Jerry Jensen spanks Marilyn Elze at Galva High School, Iowa, in the school year 1954-55)
And at that point, Chuck arrives.
CHUCK (upon seeing Todd spank Patsy): Hey, you!
PATSY (yelping throughout): Ouch! Ouch! You’re hurting me!
Chuck rushes up behind the davenport.
CHUCK: Oh, no, you don’t.
He grabs Todd around the neck and pulls him upward. This, in turn, makes a perfect log-roll of Todd’s straightened legs, and down them Patsy rolls onto the floor.
TODD (struggling to free himself from Chuck’s stranglehold): Hey! Stop it! Stop it, I say!
CHUCK (battling with Todd): You’re not going to spank my Patsy.
Patsy rises and rubs her posterior.
Then Todd socks Chuck on the jaw and walks out. All the love Patsy had for him has drained away. And Chuck insists that she tell everyone the truth – the whole truth. ‘Oh, Chuck, you’re so manly!’ she sighs, and admits everything. But there’s a hazard in that course of action:
Mr Holliday crosses to the davenport and sits where Todd sat when he gave Patsy the spanking.
MR HOLLIDAY: And now, Patsy Holliday – I’m going to finish what Todd Burke started!
PATSY (standing with her hands behind her): But, Daddy dear – I simply couldn’t stand another spanking – really, I couldn’t!
MR HOLLIDAY (beckoning to her): Come over here, Patsy!
Patsy starts slowly toward her father…
Fortunately or otherwise (depending on your point of view), the stern hand of parental justice doesn’t descend upon Patsy’s posterior: she’s saved from her second spanking when Todd and Mary, now reconciled, come back just in the nick of time to ask everyone to attend their wedding. They need witnesses, and Mary also needs a bridesmaid. And since the spirit of forgiveness now rules, for this particular wedding it’ll be a bridesmaid with a sore bottom…