Sunday, April 3, 2011

Saturday Night Baths and Sunday Morning Dress-Up

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
Out would come the rollers.  It was common to see all manner of women walking 5th Avenue Brooklyn with their hair in pin curls, curlers, and later rollers on a Saturday afternoon.  As if some commandment required styled hair, women spared effort to tame their unruly hair, especially for church.  In order to endure the torture of sleeping with curlers or rollers in your hair as an adult, training began early.  My hair was twisted around rubber curlers that were carefully stored in an old cigar box.  My mother preferred pin curls. 
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
Sunday morning meant Sunday School and Church.  Dressed in my finest clothes, cleaner than I had been all week, with as curly a mop as my mother could make, I was ready for worship.  My mother was in her best.  My father in his suit. 

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. 


  1. Our household also held fast to the Saturday night baths in preparation for Sunday. My hair roller of choice was the pink sponge ones -- they were a little less uncomfortable to sleep in. My brothers all had to shine their best shoes before bathtime. And Mom pressed the boys' clean & starched shirts and my Sunday dress while we bathed.

  2. I had those pink do-dads used on me frequently as a child! :-)

  3. SPOOLIES!!!
    DO i get the prize???

  4. Yes, you do get a prize... I think I'll find a bag of spoolies for you - Sorry MJ do-dads doesn't work.


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