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Carol Perkins: Daily routines

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By Carol Perkins

Three things we kids had to do before going to school was take a bath, clean our fingernails, ream out our ears, and scrub the rust off our ankles. Not that my mother said those specific things, but we knew they were important. No everyone in my class had a mother like mine.

Because I liked to go barefoot, which my mother never liked for me to do because I might "step on something sharp," my ankles were rusty by bath time. (My first stitches came because of my roaming around without shoes and stepping on a piece of metal. My dad swooped me up with my bleeding ankle and took me to Dr. Dunham, the only doctor in Edmonton, where I got two stitches in a tender part of my ankle. The scar is still there.)

Our feet were dirty, even though we wore shoes because we played on dirt playgrounds or rode through fields on stick horses or make mud pies beside a creek. Feet and between the toes were high on the "be sure to wash all over" order.

Today, feet don't necessarily get dirty, but they smell of the sweat accumulated in tennis shoes- a terrible odor.

Back in "my day" most people washed their hair usually on Saturday (before church day). Usually about twice a week, I stood on a chair and leaned over the kitchen sink while my mother washed my hair and rinsed with vinegar. My black hair was shiny due to that vinegar, but the smell was hard to remove. I used to lay Carla backward on the countertop and do the same thing.

As a teacher, I looked over the shoulder of working students, and sometimes the smell from their hair was sweaty and sour and under their fingernails was black. A few smelled so badly; it was difficult for those sitting around them. It is a shame no one gave them a "heads up" before they left home or had a mother who would have said, "Get in there and take a bath." Other students noticed, and some obnoxious ones would take a piece of paper and fan away the odor. High school students should have known to keep clean, but they might not have had a mother to say, "TAKE A BATH."

Because showering is such a habit, I can't skip a day. Brushing teeth is a must, and I'm sure everyone does that, but what about bathing? I have wondered about people's habits who are now staying at home. The ones who were accustomed to getting ready every morning, doing their hair, shaving, or whatever they did to be presentable. Are they continuing their habits when they have nowhere to go?

The older I get, the more I dislike the process of taking a shower. It's a hassle, but as long as I have my right mind, I will begin my day with the warm and sometimes hot water beating against my skin, waking me up so I am alive and anxious to start my day off.... Well, right now I have to work hard to come up with a plan.

Carol's most recent book, based on a true story, The Case of the Missing Ring, is available through Amazon, both paperback and ebook. You can contact her at

This story was posted on 2020-07-09 07:44:03
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