Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Every time I shampoo in the shower, I have the strange sensation that somebody’s mother invented waterboarding. Before you think I have lost all manner of sense, consider some of the following with me.

Let me take you back to the WW 2 kitchen in which I spent some of the first years of my life. As we entered the doorway, immediately to the left was the end of our black cast iron cooking stove. Four round lids covered the left end of the top of the stove. These were divided by a section fitted around them that could be removed in order to fit larger pieces of wood once the fire had been started with kindling and paper. The other end of the stove held a tank of water.

Diagonally across the kitchen from the stove was a long sideboard, in the middle of which was a dry sink. To the right of the dry sink sat two pails of cold water that my daddy, my two teenage brothers, or sometimes my mother, filled from the well. In the sink we had a small white porcelain washbasin we used for hand and face washing. It was old and had been used so often that porcelain had chipped away from the bent edges leaving black places. This many years later I don’t recall the additional things that covered the countertops, but the things that matter to my story I do remember, so let’s move on to those.

There were occasions when I was one of those things on the sideboard. After three sons, my mother was delighted to not only have a daughter, but also to have one with “thick, curly hair, the color of a new penny.” On shampoo day, the only running water came about by Mamma’s racing with an aluminum cooking pot full of some of the stove’s heated water over to the sink to be mixed with cold water already scooped from the pails by a long-handled dipper into another cooking container. Then as I lay on my back on the countertop with my head hanging over the edge of the sink, she poured the mixture over my head. Being an uncooperative age 3-or-4 years old, I squirmed mightily as I kept telling her, “But I’ll get soap in my eyes!” Mamma was not about to let a little thing like that stop her progress. She was prepared with a dry folded washcloth for me to place across my eyes. It worked quite well until she started rinsing the soap from my hair. That’s when I think her efforts and the efforts of others like hers, must have planted the seeds of thought into the head or heads of whatever child or children who eventually matured into the adult(s) who came up with the idea of waterboarding. That rinse water washed over not only my hair but also onto my face and I was sure it was going to go not only into my eyes but up my nose and into my mouth as well!

I know I’m not the only child to have had such fears. I am sure my own children went through similar visions even though by their young lives they were laid down in a bathtub, partially filled with warm water. Like my mother, I gave them a folded dry washcloth to put over their eyes. They lay on their backs, keeping their elbows bent to hold their upper backs and heads higher than the rest of their bodies, as I poured warm rinse water that I, unlike my mother, had run from a single mixer faucet into a four-cup plastic measuring pitcher.  Oh, my! By cleaning their hair in that manner, am I and other mothers guilty of planting waterboarding ideas into the heads of our children? Well, so far that is one thing for which my children have not blamed me, so perhaps I’d better hide this message where they’ll never see it lest they think of the possibility every time they shampoo while in their showers!

© Marilyn Sue (Libby) Moore 10-18-2011

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