(This blog post originally appeared on May 29, 2014)
What do you remember from when you were 3 or 4 years old? Something unusual I’d guess.
When I was 3, I locked myself in the bathroom at the neighborhood Peoples Drug Store. I can still hear my blood-curdling screams and see my feet and hands kicking and beating the door. A woman opened the door, and I darted past her desperate to find my mother and sister who were shopping in the store.
My mom and my sister got to laughing about as they told my dad over dinner that night. I didn’t think it was funny at all. And I’ve never been in that bathroom again.
Maybe an early memory of my grandmother
I found a cure for the itch when I was going through my grandma’s things. The itch must have been pretty bad if the cure was unslacked lime (calcium oxide) and flour of sulfur dissolved in warm water. The body was to be saturated in it and then wait 30 minutes before rinsing it off.
Under the cure itself is a note written in my grandmother’s hand: 1898 by Margaret Thomas. Margaret Thomas was her mother.
My grandmother, Florrie THOMAS MARTIN, turned 4 in late 1898, so how did she know for sure when this cure was written down, I wondered. It struck me recently…my grandmother perhaps had the itch and endured the cure.
I imagined her little 3-year old self sitting in an iron tub while her mother saturates her shivery body and wavy blond hair with the repugnant solution.
“Be still, Florrie,” her mother says as Florrie scratches herself here and there.
“It stinks, Mama.”
“I know, but it’ll get rid of the itch. Now sit here a while and I’ll rinse it off.”
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