Friday, June 26, 2009

Another Fever-Induced Remembrance

(Image: Wikipedia)

Fever seems to have unlocked a few other memories of the late 1930's. I'll try to keep this one (relatively) short.

Title: Bathtub Papier-Mache'

Date: Fall of 1938

Place: El Paso, TX

Location: Bathroom on the second floor of the "Hill Street" house

Cast of Characters: Myself (age 4); my younger sister (not quite 2); my mother's sister - sweet and dearly beloved Aunt Jewel

Props: Deep, claw-footed bathtub; a tremendous amount of newspaper; laundry starch; water; large buckets with lids.

Action: Aunt Jewel and children sit on floor of bathroom, laughing and tearing sheets of newspaper into strips which are thrown into the bathtub with great gusto. Aunt Jewel amuses children by telling stories of her experiences as an elementary school teacher in a small West Texas town. When all newspaper has been shredded, Aunt Jewel plugs bathtub drain and turns on water, soaking newspaper, adds starch. Children strip to undergarments and are lifted into the tub where they are instructed to stomp on the newspaper until it becomes mush. Children laugh with glee at this unexpected and delightfully messy experience. Aunt entertains children with stories of making wine by tromping on grapes. Younger child slips and sits down in mushy paper, but continues to kick feet to stir the mix. When proper consistency has been achieved, Aunt Jewel stops the tromping and removes as much paper mush as possible, placing it in buckets. Children remain in bathtub. Using dry cloth, Aunt wipes as much paper mush from tub and children as is possible, then turns on water and bathes children. Children are dried off and re-clothed. - End

Note: Aunt Jewel must have been doing some sort of project at her school which required a substantial amount of papier-mache'. Wherever she was teaching, it must not have been far from El Paso, since I remember her being a frequent week-end visitor. My mother must have been very happy for her visits and her ability to entertain the two of us, since Mother was then pregnant with my baby sister, Carol Anne, who was born on New Year's Day, 1939.


Hilary said...

A "Jewel" of a memory. I'll bet she was a fine teacher.

I hope you're on the mend, Pat.

Snap said...

Wonderful wonderful story. Aunt Jewel was a jewel (as Hilary said). Hope you are feeling better!

Wishing you well.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Sorry to hear you have been sick, Pat. I knew I had been missing you on my blog. Hope you are better now. I hate summer flu-bugs... Makes you feel so darn lousy..

I never had one of the bathtubs --but there was one at one of my great aunts homes. LOVE it.


Jeannelle said...

Well, sorry you were sick, but happy that this memory came to mind. A good one....and, I wonder what the purpose was for all that paper-mache?

We had a claw-foot tub like that, too, when I was a kid. Don't ever recall making paper-mache in it, though. My sisters and I would get in trouble for splashing bath water all over the floor, though.

Anonymous said...

Your Aunt sounds like a saint! Great memory story, Pat.
Do continue to get better...feel better, and know we're thinking of you.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful story of someone who would have been a jewel of a teacher-those few and far between gems with the power to change childrens lives. I'm sad that you are still feeling poorly, but this was a nice fever induced memory.

Patty said...

Your aunt sounds like she had the perfect name, Jewel. She must have been one to be able to entertain you children in that manner.

Diana said...

You really need to get over that bug Pat! But that memory was so sweet and funny. I couldn't help but thinking what a mess that would be to clean out of the tub! Worth it though with as much fun as it created! Get well soon Pat!

Suldog said...

I love stories like this. Thanks for sharing it!

Also, thank you very much for the "proofreading" you did over at our company website. I made the correction you spotted!

NitWit1 said...

Pat: Fever really triggers some memories--hope that wasn't hallicination!

Awful lot of newspaper and starch--had to be some paper big mache project.

But that is a project I would have loved to participate in as a child!! I might have added a little sand from my sandpile :~D

TSannie said...

Lovely, Pat, just lovely. I'm sorry you have a fever, but not for the story that came because of it. :-)

Wanda said...

Neat story of a fun time...messy but a fast clean up I guess...made a wonderful memory for you!

Arkansas Patti said...

At least your fever produced a delightful memory.
That must have been some project and outside of the bath tub mess, a great way to make a bunch of paper-mache.
Hope you are feeling much, much better. Take care.

flurrious said...

When you said she put the children in the tub, for a brief moment I thought that you and your sister were going to papier-mached.

I hope you've recovered from your flu.

Rose said...

Oh,I wanted this memory to go on and on!