A couple of weeks ago, I visited a friend on Saturday morning. After a good visit, I hopped into my car and felt as if I’d just exited a time warp. It brought back some memories about the weekends that weren’t all that exciting.
The woman met me at the door that Saturday with her hair rolled tightly into curls and set with a combination of small rollers, “spoolies,” and bobby pins. Her appearance brought back visions of my mother on that first day of the weekend. She, too, spent some part of the day “fix’n her hair for next day’s church. Her gray hair was pinned tightly to her head with so many pins that they must have added a pound or more of weight. All day long she completed her list of responsibilities with her hair held in tractions. She removed them the next day and brushed out the ringlets until her hair fell exactly as she’d planned. The entire process seemed to require too much work for short-term results.
Saturday for us boys began with breakfasts of pancakes and bacon. We’d gobble the food down and wait for the sugar high to hit in front of the television. There we watched cartoons and waited for commercials that previewed the most popular toys for the year. The sugar soon burned off and left us lethargic and sleepy.
Before long, Mother lost patience and heavy footed it down the hall. We knew house cleaning time was at hand. The house was divided into three areas, and each of us was responsible for vacuuming, dusting, and cleaning every inch of those places. We boys took turns with the vacuum; every one of us hoped that we wouldn’t be last because that meant we had to empty the tank that contained water and yucky stuff that had been sucked into it.
By mid-afternoon, we’d finished, and the rest of the day belonged to us. Most often, Jim and I found something outside to keep us busy. Board games never had any appeal because they required sitting still. Not much went on in Ball Camp, and many times we were bored. It was during those times that we took shovels to dig for treasure, or we loaded our arms with tools and found scrap boards to build something. Not a single project ever worked out, even though we hammered and bent a keg of nails in putting it together.
At some time during the afternoon, Daddy summoned us to the house. It was time to shine our shoes for church. We first used liquid polish before graduating to the small, thin containers whose contents were spread with a rag and then buffed with a brush. Daddy demanded that our shoes look good because he didn’t like boys with “long hair and dirty shoes.”
As evening arrived, we took turns taking baths. I still marvel at how a family of five survived with one bathroom and a bathtub without a shower. That done, everyone gathered in the living room for an evening of television watching. “Dinah Shore” and “Perry Como” were Mother’s favorites. Then all the males got set for the weekly installment of “Gunsmoke.”
Throughout the shows, Mother stood at the ironing board and finished a basketful of items. She wilted in the heat of the steam and late hour of the day. Spread in the room and halls were pairs of jeans on stretchers. Not until permanent press came on the market did she quit ironing, but the day the material came on the market, Mother retired her iron for good.
By the time I’d driven home from the neighbor’s house that day, I felt the sting of losing both parents and an older brother. While memories of that time are vivid, I admit to liking Saturdays with their offerings for activities and chores much more now. Still, it was nice to experience a bit of déjà vu in the same neighborhood of my childhood.