The weeks of rain showers reminde me of one of my favorite chapters in
The Vision of a Mother’s Heart!
In 1924 some things were done differently. Isabel’s family had a pump in the kitchen but it only pumped cold water. Families who lived in the country only took a full bath once a week as well as washing their hair. In order to conserve water during a dry season, families kept a rain barrel under the gutter to catch rain water. If you were creative, you could turn a chore such as washing your hair into a play time. My grandmother talked about washing her hair in the rain and allowed her children to do the same. When I was a child, I wanted the same experience but was told there was too much pollution in the air. So, lets enjoy Isabel and her two sisters experiencee from Chapter 22 of The Vision of a Mother’s Heart.
Egg Shampoo and Rainwater
“WELL,” MAMA said as she placed the last loaf of bread into the oven, “tomorrow is Sunday, so we need to wash your hair, girls.”
“May we wash our hair in the rain?” Isabel asked as she looked outside at the cool, steady rain from the kitchen window.
“You always say that rain water smells good and we won’t have to use up the well water for our hair.” Isabel smiled as she made the last comment, knowing Papa was worried that the well would go dry before the end of the summer.
“Well,” Mama said, “I suppose it would be alright as long as you agree to come back inside at the first sound of thunder.
Go upstairs, and put on your bathing clothes so you will not mess up your work clothes.”
“Yes, Mama,” Isabel said. She headed for the back steps to her room. Maggie and Sylvia followed and then passed her on the steps.
“Oh boy,” Sylvia raced to their room. “I love playing in the rain.” ”Sylvia said as she quickly dressed.
“Well,” Isabel said, “we are not playing in the rain; we are washing our hair.”
Isabel said. She pulled out her bathing I wish Mama and Papa would allow us to wear the new style like everyone else.
These old things are heavier than our regular dresses. Besides, they look ugly, and they are no good for swimming. The last time we went swimming, I nearly drowned because my clothes were full of water and dragging me under water.”
“I remember,” Maggie said. She giggled and watched Isabel make funny faces at the offending fabric.
“Ye gads,” Isabel said. She attempted to button the dress portion of her swimsuit.
“Isabel,” Maggie said, “you just used God’s name in vain.”
“No I didn’t. I just said the same thing everybody says.”
“Mama wouldn’t like it..”
“Oh, Maggie,” Isabel said to her sister, who was also struggling with her suit, “you are such a goody-goody sometimes.
Besides, I said g-a-ds and with a little g – like the Roman gods, you know.”
“That does not make it right, Isabel. It is still using God’s name in vain,” Maggie said.
Isabel decided to drop the issue.
“I’m telling Mama you’re swearing,” Sylvia said as she headed for the bedroom door.
“Please don’t tell her. It will only upset her, and I promise never to say that again.” Sylvia twisted the doorknob, and Isabel spoke up once more.
I will give you a nickel if you don’t tell.”
“Okay,” Sylvia said. She took the coin from Isabel and Now shut your eyes, and don’t peek!”
Even with her eyes closed, Isabel could hear Sylvia placing the coin under her mattress for safekeeping. Next, Isabel could hear a soft thud as Sylvia removed her hand from under the mattress and a trashing sound as her hands were smoothing out wrinkles from the covers.
As if we didn’t know where she keeps things she doesn’t want us to see,” Maggie said as Sylvia exited the room.
“What do you mean?” Isabel questioned with suspicion.
Sylvie always puts her money and other secret treasures under her mattress. Didn’t you know? ”
“No,” Isabel said.
Maggie said with a smile. “You keep your diary in that old hatbox in the far right corner of the closet,
and the key to unlock it is on a string hanging behind the picture on the wall.”
“Maggie Greene,” Isabel said, “you’ve been snooping.”
Maggie said sweetly as she walked to the window and pulled back the curtain, revealing the old climbing tree a few feet from the house.
“If you want to hide something in our room, you should close the curtain or make sure no one is sitting in the tree reading. ”
“Margaret Louise Greene, it’s impolite to spy on people; you should have let me know ”
“I saw your diary and you wrote that you have a boyfriend.”
“I do not have a boyfriend!”
“Isabel and Arnie sitting in a tree…” Maggie chanted as she took off down the steps with Isabel close behind.
“No running in the house, girls,” Mama said as they entered the kitchen. They slowed their pace to a quick walk as they stepped outside
into the pouring rain.
“Now girls,” Mama said as she stepped onto the back porch. “Lather your hair twice, and be sure to get the suds out.
I will mix up the rinse and be back in a few minutes.”
The three girls twirled around in the rain until their hair was completely wet and then stepped back onto the porch.
“Here,” Isabel said. She picked up the jar of shampoo. “I’ll pour some on your hair, and then you can pour some on mine.”
She poured the amber liquid onto Maggie’s head and massaged it into her sister’s hair. Next, Isabel turned and repeated the
same for Sylvia. Then Maggie poured the slimy liquid onto Isabel’s head.
“Work up a good lather,” Isabel said as she worked the shampoo through her own long hair.
“Sylvie, it looks you’re wearing a crown on your head. Maggie, let’s see how high we can pile the suds on your head.”
The girls giggled as they made funny figurines on their heads.
“We should rinse it off or the suds will make our head itch.: Isabel quoted Mama, who warned them each time they washed their hair.
“We know that,” Maggie said and then raced off the porch to rinse the suds from her hair and was followed by her sisters.
The girls danced around in the rain again as they attempted to rinse out the offensive lather.
“Oh no,” Isabel said, “the rain is slacking off.”
“Let’s do the second lather before it stops altogether,” Maggie said.
They ran back to the porch and repeated the procedure. Just as they stepped off the porch, the sky seemed to open up
with the heaviest rain they had seen all year.
Sylvia said. She twirled around, allowing the rain to wash her face as well as whisk away the shampoo.
“My hair feels softer already and smells good too,” Isabel said.
Mama stepped onto the porch with a tray containing three jars. She handed Isabel the jar with an amber-colored liquid.
“Apple cider vinegar to rinse your pretty brown hair.”
Isabel wrinkled her nose as she drenched her hair with the pungent rinse. “It stinks,” she said.
“It will make your hair nice and shiny, and it will wash away the suds,” Mama said.
She handed the jar of lemon juice to Maggie and then poured the liquid from the remaining jar on Sylvia’s head and worked it through her hair.
“Why do we have to use lemon juice?” Sylvia asked.
“Because you have blonde hair; it will make it shine like the sun. Now, run back into the rain and rinse.”
The girls obeyed their mother and stepped back onto the porch to squeeze all of the water out of their hair.
Isabel ran her fingers through her hair as she pushed the water out and then squeezed.
“Do you hear that?” she said. “Squeaky clean.”
“Perfect!” Mama said and handed each daughter a dry towel. “Now squeeze the water out of your suits, and go inside.”
After changing from their wet clothes, Isabel and her sisters returned to the kitchen to sit by the stove to dry their hair as they
enjoyed freshly baked cookies and hot chocolate.
“I love washing my hair in the rain,” Isabel said.
“Me too,” the younger girls agreed.
“Yes,” Mama said, “I’m thankful for the rain which will help the crops grow and will help keep my family clean.”
The argument between Isabel and Maggie was lost in the suds and washed away with the raindrops.