Over the next few years, their brood grew to include seven. The boys were tall and strong, a lot of help to Eddie, so he didn’t need Neeley’s help so much. A stern taskmaster, he was apt to take his belt to the boys should they dally. When Will, their third son was about eight, he was given the task of planting corn as his older brothers made up the rows on either side of him. The rows seemed to stretch on forever and his back ached with bending and planting four kernels per hills ten to twelve inches apart. He fell further and further behind. Desperate to catch up, he buried a big pile of seed in one hill and caught up to his brothers. It rid him of so much of the accursed seed, he repeated the process up and down the rows, finishing up in time with the rest. He thought no more about it, glad to be done with the onerous task of planting. Several evenings later, Eddie went out one bright moonlit night to check to see if his corn had sprouted late that afternoon. Indeed it had, but not all in rows like he expected. Big clumps of corn sprouts stood in patches up and down the rows. Infuriated, he knew immediately what Will had done. He strode toward the house, determined to set the boy straight. In their exhaustion, the three boys had gone to bed immediately after supper. Eddie stomped into the room snatching the covers back from the sleeping boys and started beating them with his belt. Though Will got the worst of it, the other boys suffered welts, too. Neeley heard the screams from the kitchen and burst in to stop Eddie. In his fury, he didn’t seem to notice her. Neeley .. got the fireplace poker and got between him and the boys, beating him about the shoulders. Finally, she stood him off. Threatening to crack him over the head, she assured him she’d kill him if she had to. In the face of her ferocity, he backed down, putting himself on one side of a wall and herself and the kids on another. This was repeated several times over the next few years, made worse as the boys’ hormones kicked in and Eddie aged. Neeley wondered if his meanness was due to his head jury or his nature. It could have been a combination since Eddie had learned violence at he hands of his own father, many years earlier.
Eddie didn’t deal a lot better with the girls. As they entered puberty, he suspected them of all manner of misbehavior. Always on the lookout for trashiness, they couldn’t smile at a boy without inciting his anger. In view of Eddie’s violent tendencies, Neeley always lined up on the side of her children, creating anger on both sides. As Neeley became more defensive, the boys became more undisciplined. Neeley had the girls firmly under control, determined they not be led astray as she had been. Though Eddie never voiced it, Neeley feared he’d make reference to her dalliance before their marriage. Like any mother, she wanted her children to hold her in high regard. It was an uncomfortable situation. Not only that, fearing more pregnancies, Neeley refused to have sex except immediately before or after her “curse,” increasing the tension between them.