little girl in a tub
lots of her narratives were frightening accounts which commanded our attention. there was a fierce dog with red eyes as large as saucers, or maybe the small girl and her little brother, hopelessly lost in the forest, but looked over by angels. then one story told of a witch's house that stood on giant chicken legs. they would rise up to rotate the dwelling occasionally, scaring us to no end.
other true sagas she related from her own childhood, and this tale is about one of those.
she was born in abilene, texas, at the turn of the century. it was a virtual wild west town in those days, according to her colorful descriptions. one of my favorite subjects was her story of the bath.
her parents had recently divorced, she said.
marie, as she called her mother, was a wild woman; the wanton vixen worked as a dance hall girl as well as a local prostitute.
her father leo, who seemed to be a respectable businessman, owned a popular saloon which faced one of the bustling abilene streets. the dirt roadway was usually packed with wagons or men on horseback, plus lots of pedestrians as well as dogs, i remember her saying.
leo and his daughter thelma, who was five years old, lived upstairs, sharing a small apartment above the bar.
it was his habit to bathe her after noontime, letting a hireling run the place downstairs during a lull in the drinking trade. but on this particular day, a noisy disturbance broke out in the saloon, so he had to leave young thelma and run downstairs to investigate the ruckus.
left alone, the girl became bored with her tub and the bath, so she got out, crept down the wood staircase, and then left the building to run wild down the middle of the street, naked as a jaybird.
the crowd roared at the spectacle, and she enjoyed her jog immensely, she told us.
it took her embarrassed father some time to catch up with the little imp and take her home to make her decent, which was the part of the story that we always loved the best.
run, momma, run!