mother was always a hard worker who, in addition to working as an office nurse
5 1/2 days a week for years, also kept a pretty clean, if cluttered, house. She
had 2 kids to thank for the cluttered part and never made a big to-do about it,
though. Once in awhile she would hire a lady to come help her with the heavier
jobs, one of which was taking down all of the heavy wooden venetian blinds and
giving them a good cleaning. That consisted of dumping each one in the bathtub
filled with hot soapy water with a good sized shot of Clorox mixed in, then lifting
them up and down in the water to get at the dust and grime in between the slats.
After that they were carried into the back yard to hose off all the soapy residue,
and then they were allowed to air dry before being rehung (and sometimes restrung
if the cords and flat cotton tapes had become twisted). In the dry state they
were pretty heavy, but when they were waterlogged, it sometimes called for a two
person carry, especially as they neared the end of, I believe, 9 or maybe 10 blinds.
Mama had remarried
and my stepfather, who was a native of Hope, Arkansas had taken her, my brother
Butch and me to meet his mother and the siblings who still lived in the area,
and they had presented him with a kind of joke present, a gallon sized, glass
jug of White Lightning, aka moonshine whiskey. It got stuck under the kitchen
sink when we got back to Beaumont
and forgotten, for the most part, except for a couple of occasions when Bill brought
it out to show friends how “pure” the stuff was and demonstrated this by lighting
a tablespoon full to show off the pretty blue flame. It made for a neat little
party trick, I guess.
forward to cleaning day. I was dusting and being nagged by Mama not to wipe the
lamps and glassware with the same cloth I soaked with Old English furniture polish.
Sheesh, one little old mistake can haunt a person for years. Anyway, the lady
whom she had hired to help her, Mrs. Sarah Thomas, was working on the blinds in
the bathroom and I heard Mama start coughing in the kitchen and saying “What's
that smell!” The next thing I heard was their raucous laughter so I went to investigate.
Yep, Mrs. Sarah had mistaken the jug of hooch for the jug of bleach and had been
liberal, to say the least, in sloshing it into the hot soapy bath. The fumes traveled
fast and it was heady, really heady, when those eye burning vapors filled the
hall and at least 3 rooms. It wasn't exactly bathtub gin but it packed the same
Confessions and Mild Obsessions"
17 , 2012 Column
Related Topics: Homes
| Mother Stories | Father
| Columns | Texas
Town List | Texas
Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing
Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories, and vintage/historic
photos, please contact