Grandaddy's Garage

As a girl I loved going to “Grandaddy’s Garage”. Often in the spring and summer, late in the afternoon, Grandmother and I would walk there to spend a little while. It was only about three blocks from their home. She would visit with various of the townspeople who happened by and with Grandaddy and Uncle Merlin, then we would ride home with Grandaddy after he closed for the evening. I played around the garage and up and down the sidewalks nearby. I looked forward to Grandaddy or Uncle Merlin reaching into the ice in the “Coke” box and bringing out my choice of a “Soda-Pop”. Sometimes that would be an orange NeHi, an RC Cola, a chocolate drink, or maybe a Coke. Any one of these sold for five cents in those days and were kept in a wooden or metal box on four legs about three feet off the floor. The ice delivery man would leave a cake of ice each day to keep them cold for the day. The size of the cake office was determined by the card Grandaddy placed in the window. If the number 25 was turned up then 25# of ice was delivered, 50 for 50# etc.

I remember one hot summer day I was there and we heard shouts coming from people down the street, plus howling and barking of a dog. Pretty soon a rabid dog came running into the door of the garage. Often in the summer we had “mad dog scares”. People didn’t know much about controlling rabies. Anyone bitten had to go through long, painful, series of shots. I was terrified. Someone shouted for me to climb up on something to get out of its way. I got up on the Coke box. The dog ran under the box. I will never forget by abject fear as I looked down on the insane yellow eyes and foaming mouth of the dog. Uncle Merlin killed the dog. I had nightmares for a long time afterwards.

Wash days for Aunt Minnie and Aunt Lizzie were quite a production. They made their own lye soap to be used, built a fire under an old iron pot in the yard to boil the water and clothes. Later they took the clothes to Cross Plains to a laundermat. Grandmother had a Maytag washing machine and an electric iron (pure luxury!). Otherwise, ironing was done by heating the iron on the stove (even in the hot summer). You knew the iron was hot enough to do the job if it would “sizzle spit”. “Faultless” starch was boiled, clothes were sprinkled and rolled up tightly before ironing. The ironing board was a 1x12 plank wrapped in an old quilt placed between the backs of two can backed chairs.

Suntan became quite fashionable, so when I got out of high school and went to San Diego I spent a lot of time on the beach – baking – if sunscreen had been invented, I didn’t know about it. However, as a young girl we were taught to avoid the sun by wearing long sleeves and bonnets. A lady was supposed to have delicate, pale skin. It was the custom to put buttermilk on your face at night which was supposed to be good for the complexion. Lemon juice helped to bleach any unwanted freckles or suntan. Later when I was in high school Maola and Aunt Gladys helped me with the more complicated aspects of makeup such as Tangee pale pink lipstick and Ponds face powder.