Archive | July 2012

The Perils of Walking Backward

A full bath in those days before running water was a once a week affair. The large tub used for washing clothes on Monday was set on the kitchen floor and filled with warm water from the reservoir attached to the wood stove, and that is where we bathed.

One night, fresh out of the tub, toweled off and dressed in my nightgown, I was dancing to the music on the radio while waiting for a tuck-in. When the music stopped, I decided to fill the interval by practicing a new skill: walking backward. And walk backward I did, right into the tub sitting on the floor, still filled with bathwater.

Interestingly I recently found this memory of my maternal grandmother, as she recounted it to her daughter, my aunt Muriel.

My great-grandmother died when my grandmother was only three. The story comes from the day of my great-grandmother’s funeral.

“[Mother] could call up no picture of her mother. She wondered why, since she had another absurd memory of the same time. She and Alice, her younger sister, were staying with a neighbour woman until the funeral was over. Mother had just discovered that she could walk backward and was showing Alice this surprising skill. She walked backwards, bumped into, and sat down in a bucket of water being used to scrub the floor.”

The close similarity of this story to the one about myself makes me wonder if this is a free-floating story that manages to attach itself to someone each generation or so. How many of us have a story about walking backward into a bucket or tub or pond in our family history?

In summer time, the tub was also the closest thing we had to a wading pool. Here I am enjoying some playtime one hot day.

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