Spring fever brings memories of cleaning and camp

Published 6:48 pm Friday, March 14, 2014

Daffodils bring on spring fever, and I’ve had a full-blown case of it.

Not the kind of spring fever you get when you’re young and in puppy love. The kind that mature-figured gals get that makes us claustrophobic and in a panic to get rid of all the clutter in our lives.

Out go the boxes of canning jars that we’d saved for the beans and squash from the garden we never planted. The yellow, polka-dot bikini from years and pounds ago, stacks of handwriting exhibits from one of the young’uns or the other, towels “borrowed” from the Holiday Inn, a sack of socks in-waiting for their mates to reappear. Newspapers from the inauguration of Teddy Roosevelt. Topless Kool-Whip cartons, pens without ink, and brochures for places we never went.

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Looking through the brochures, I said out loud, “Why, Mama, bless her heart, she did save something of mine after all.”

Mama had a favorite child. Bubba. I had proof of it because she saved everything of his, from his first pacifier to his first baseball glove. From every ABC he ever wrote to the razor he used to shave on his wedding day.

But, really, I didn’t have a lot of stuff to save. I was a tomboy and didn’t have a collection of dolls, tea sets or batons. I had a BB gun, a Howdy Doody puppet, funny books, marbles and roller skates.

But what I found packed in the top of the “chester drawers” that day was the brochure from Camp Grandview, my first “going off to camp” experience.

Mama didn’t want me going way off on the other side of Montgomery but I went into a full-blown begging fit. Daddy said she ought to be glad to get rid of me.

I’d handled that brochure so much the paper was worn as thin and soft as silk.

Camp Grandview had water for swimming and for drinking that was tested by the State Department of Health. Wholesome meals with plenty of fruit, fresh vegetables and milk were “traditional” with Grandview. Not with me. Betsy’s sweet milk made bumps on my tongue.

We were to bring one blanket, two single bed sheets, pillow case, towel, wash cloth, bathing suit, swimming cap, play clothes, drinking cup, toilet articles (I didn’t know what that was) flashlight and Bible.

Campers could bring extra things like costumes, a Kodak, jack-knife, a rain slick (whatever that was), and scissors. I carried my Tuf-Nut knife.

Each day was divided into Happy Hours, Breakfast – clean cabins, hobby groups, swimming. Lunch – hobby groups, outdoor recreation, swimming. Supper – stunts, plays, campfires, music, vespers (whatever that was).

The activities for us were swimming, tumbling, shuffleboard, ping-pong, softball, crafts, dancing, dramatics, storytelling, hiking, worship and outdoor cooking. It all sounded fun, except for “dramatics” whatever that was.

Camp Grandview was the grandest thing in the world.

We went swimming in the huge pool at the bottom of a steep hill with 100 steps going down to it and 300 going back up.

All the outdoor stuff was fun. Some girls were from big cities like Montgomery and they didn’t bring knives. They were scared of mine or of me.

I helped start the campfire every night because, at home, we played with fire and I knew how.

Leaving Camp Grandview was sad, but I could hardly wait to tell Mama and Daddy all about it.

Mama wasn’t interested and all because she had packaged my play clothes in little bags. Clean clothes for each day – socks, a pair of shorts, a shirt, my “under britches” and a washcloth and soap in a plastic soap dish from the dime store.

At home, I bathed in the bathroom by myself. At Camp Grandview, all the girls bathed in open showers and they could see me naked. So, I just didn’t take a bath … all week.

If I hadn’t taken those bags of clean clothes and that dry bar of Jergen’s soap back home with me, Mama wouldn’t have known.

Mama didn’t want to hear about my good time at camp. She marched me to the bathroom holding her nose and twisting my ear all the way.

I was crusted over so Mama used a scrub brush and Dutch Cleanser to get me clean.

She said corn could have grown between my toes.

I’ve never been that dirty again, and I’ve never had more fun than when I went away to camp way off on the other side of Montgomery.

Jaine Treadwell is features editor of The Messenger. Email her at jaine.treadwell@troymessenger.com.