Going Home

I didn’t take a shower until I was a freshman in college.

Don’t worry. It’s not that I didn’t wash myself regularly. It’s just that for the first 18 years of my life, I lived in a house that had no shower. Yep. One bathroom for the six of us — Mom, Dad, three girls and a boy — that had a bathtub only.

At some point — maybe when the house was built — a shower was put into our basement. It was a shower head and a drain built into the cement floor. No walls. Just a place that — probably in desperation — Dad went to take a shower. No privacy, but that didn’t matter because, being a baker, his showers were taken at 4 o’clock in the morning. But dang, it must have been chilly in the winter. Not a single one of the rest of us would have used that shower. It was Nebraska, and there were undoubtedly bugs that lived in our basement. No thanks.

Bill and Jen and I went to live Mass yesterday with Bec at her church — St. Steven’s. After church we went back to her house and had what she called a “hillbilly breakfast” but what I called delicious. A homemade coffee cake using our Aunt Ann’s recipe, and some pork sausages. Our hillbilly breakfast was accompanied by mimosa’s made from prosecco and cranberry juice, with real cranberries as garnishes. I can’t imagine any such thing made by a really true hillbilly. Anyhoo, as we ate, we got to talking about the house in which we all spent our formative years.

Dad and Mom built the house. Well, I don’t mean they actually showed up every day with hammers and nails and such. But Dad bought the lot and found a home design he liked and had the house built. At the time, the neighborhood was out on the edge of town, surrounded by fields. Dad says many people warned him that he would be sorry some day that he built where he did. (He wasn’t.) Bec says she used to play cowgirl in the fields that surrounded our home.

In hindsight, we all know that the house was S-M-A-L-L, particularly by today’s standards of one bedroom per child. There were three bedrooms in our little brick home, and as indicated above, one small bathroom with a bathtub. When we washed our hair, we connected a hose with a sprayer on the end onto the faucet to get out the shampoo. That’s why I didn’t shower until nearly adulthood. (By the way, I was supposed to be showering after every P.E. class in high school, but that never happened. What? Getting naked in front of strangers? Not for this shy gal.

I also never had a room of my own until I was 21 years old and finally got an apartment when I moved to Leadville, Colorado, where my parents lived. I shared with Bec. I shared with Jen. I’m pretty sure at one point, our baby brother Dave’s crib was in with Jen and me.

Baby Boomers won’t be surprised to know that we thought we lived like royalty. Our house was made from bricks (so the big bad wolf couldn’t blow it down). There was beautiful parquet wood tiles in our dining room (which we never used except for holidays and homework).

Mom was very proud of that wooden dining room floor. Bec told us a true story that I had never before heard that shows how proud Mom was: When we were babies, Mom would spray the floor with polish, and push whichever one of her children was still in cloth diapers around on the floor to buff it…..

Bec, Jen, and I in our entryway. Jen would have been about floor-buffing age!

I can’t tell you how much I love that story.

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