The old woman’s name was Frankie Mae. But she wasn’t really old. She was weary. And she didn’t have so many children – only three. But she didn’t know what to do. She didn’t really live in a shoe. She didn’t even wear shoes most of the time. Too many bunions and broken toes. She lived in a clapboard house on a creek where the plumbing didn’t work and the cupboard was bare. (I think that’s another nursery rhyme where Old Mother Hubbard’s dog goes hungry.) Frankie Mae’s children had a dog. His name was Waggles. Waggles fended for himself just as the children did. The thrashing was real. Spanking. Whipping. Switching. Most of the time. Frankie Mae used her hand but when the punishment was pre-meditated or when her hand was sore from previous spankings she made her children go out and cut switches from one of the fruit trees in the back yard.
The children often went to bed hungry and crying and too tired to dream. When the oldest child grew up she made sure she never had a bare cupboard. She never had any children either. She didn’t live in a shoe but she owned lots of shoes. She had a pair of dogs that ate much better than she and her siblings ate when they were children. She never went to bed hungry. While she watched what she ate the rest of the day, just before she went to bed she became the little girl who went to bed each night with an empty belly and she would raid the refrigerator before she turned out the lights and went to bed. Life as Nursery Rhyme