I think every child loves Saturday. Saturday is that day when you don’t have school. It is the day to sleep late and play. It was on a Saturday that my father would take me on excursions of delight. Holding his hand, we’d place our token in the turnstile to ride the 4th Avenue local. However, there was one part of Saturday that I did not like.
Saturday night meant a soak in the tub. Ours was an old tall claw bathtub. We had no shower. While we each had our own bathwater, one by one, we’d make the trip into the tub to be clean for Sunday. I often entertained myself in the tub with boats sent to me from my relatives in Norway. I enjoy the tub. What I didn’t enjoy was the shampoo. I’d cover my eyes with a washcloth as the cups of water were poured over my head. Usually some got in my eyes and I’d wince or cry. My ears, between my toes, and my neck were all checked to see if they were clean. There was a woman we knew who always had a dirty neck. My mother would remind me that I shouldn’t be like her. I should always wash my neck.
It was Saturday night. My father would sit in his green recliner reading the Sunday Daily News. He always got the first edition that came out early on Saturday evening. As Lawrence Welk counted a-one, and a-two, and a-three, and the Champagne Music Lady sang, my mother would tackle the tangles in my hair. When I was a little girl I would yell – ap-puls, ap-puls. As I got older discipline demanded I be stoic. I was Norwegian after all.
|My mother always preferred pin curls|
made with bobby pins
|I thought it was so old fashion to wear these|
in my hair when I was a kid. But they only poked
a little when I slept on them.
|Along came rollers, now those weren't easy to sleep in!|
|But Dippity Do always helped unruly hair.|
Once I was clean, hair detangled, and wrapped in curlers it was time to read the funnies. I never found them funny or understood them, but they were bright and colorful. Off to bed with curlers covering my head, sleep would be fitful as a I tried to keep the curlers from poking me.
|I should give a prize if you know what these are.|
Comment if you know.
|Eventually we rolled our hair around|
empty OJ cans
We sang a song in that church in Brooklyn, “Give of Your Best to the Master.” I guess that’s why we always had to dress up and be extra clean. This was our way of giving our best. I thought of those days this morning as I put on dress pants to go to church. I almost never dress up any more. I have no reason to do so. I thought about wearing jeans. It would have been okay if I had. It was nice to feel like I looked my best for Jesus once again.
As I looked around, I spotted a friend from Brooklyn. I thought about how she probably had to have her hair curled, and be extra clean as she walked 5th Avenue to Mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Here we were, both sitting in this little country church in Tennessee far, far from our childhoods in Brooklyn. For a few moments, I remembered Saturday night baths and Sunday morning church.