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AN ORDEAL WITH A RAZOR

(A treasured memory of Grandma Boulden, contributed by cousin Scotty Casper.)

It was 1962, the year of the Beatles, the year of fin cars, the year I graduated from high school.  I moved in with Grandma Boulden, into her tiny home on Redwood Road in Salt Lake City, Utah.  I had a job out farther north on Redwood Road at a cabinet manufacturer named Brandon Kitchens.

Grandma and I had an arrangement.  I could stay there if I behaved myself and paid my way.  My memory fails me, but it seems like Brandon Kitchens was paying me around $2.50 an hour and they paid weekly, and I was giving Grandma roughly half of that each week.  The way it worked out, both Grandma and I managed to eke out a meager living.  Everytime I got paid I took her to the grocery store and we stocked up on enough supplies to last for another week.

I have fond memories of those trips to the grocers.  I had a 55 Ford lowered to the ground.  It had Lake Plugs, glass packs, Appleton spotlights, spinner hubcaps, dice on the rearview mirror, Naugahyde upholstery and an eight ball for a shift knob.  “Scotty, why does this thing make such a racket?” she asked.  “It would wake the dead.”

“It has glass packs,” I said, “it is suppose to make lots of noise.  it’s all the rage.”

“Well, I don’t understand it.  It gives me a headache.”

“Sorry.”

“Scotty, why is this car such a rough riding thing?” she asked.

“I heated up the springs so it would sag to the ground.  I guess I wrecked the suspension system.”

“It’s kind of hard on this ol’ achy back of mine.”

“Sorry, Grandma.”

“Listen Scotty-Bobble, I love you, but I don’t know quite what to think of this car.”

“It’s just the way we kids fix our cars up,” I said.

“Kids will be kids,” she said.  “My sons use to shine up an old buggy we had, when they went courting.”

“Kids will be kids,” I said.

“I’m proud of you Scotty-Bobble.  You don’t smoke or drink.  That means so much to me.”  “No, those things aren’t good for you,” I said.  Actually I lied a little to my dear old Grandma and I feel guilty about it to this day.  I had drank beer a few times at that time in my life … and then later on I did some smoking.  But I’ve since given up all those vices and Grandma can be proud of me.

I sketched out the aforementioned account to give you an idea what life with my Grandma was like.  She was such a sweet person and always very loving, even if I did do some things that annoyed her and she had to holler at me a bit. I operated a router at Brandon Kitchens.  I spent the entire day holding that blamed router and planing off the excess facia glued to each board.  When I got home at night, even though I was young, my back would be killing me.  Grandma would rub linament into my aching back and shoulders.  After kneading that linament into my aching muscles it would relieve the pain and I could sleep.  During those sessions we talked about any number of subjects.  Unfortunately, that was 50 years ago and I don’t remember very much of the subject matter.  I do remember her scolding me during one of those linament sessions about my scrubby beard.  “Your cousin Larry left a razor in the bathroom and there is shaving cream.  Why don’t you go in and shave off your whiskers?”

“Okay,” I said, aiming to please.  But it turned out not being that simple.  When I ran that razor down my face it felt like it was pulling the whiskers out by the roots.  I had always shaved with my Dad’s electric shaver at home and I didn’t know anything about shaving with a razor.  But I can tell you this, using that razor was a painful process. “Grandma, this hurts like the Dickens.”

“Well, Scotty-Bobble, it shouldn’t.  Do it fast and see how that works.”

I tried it fast … it still hurt. “Try it slow,” she said. I tried it slow … it still hurt. “Well, I don’t know what to tell you,” she said.  “Larry didn’t have any trouble, it didn’t hurt him.  And I’ve been using that razor to shave my legs every now and then, going on six months now, and it never hurt me much.”

Scotty Casper, March 2011

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