Thursday, March 6, 2014



 Teenage Saturday Mornings were for floor-waxing, and I know by plain common sense that it couldn’t have been EVERY Saturday, but it certainly seemed like it.  Our house was a strangely-constructed one---it started as an ordinary little two-bedrooms-hall-and-bath-on-a-side, with living room, dining room and kitchen on the right.


Right after breakfast on Saturdays, I’d start shifting furniture---some to the back porch, smaller chairs and tables piled on the couch and atop other tables, just to get most of those pesky little legs out of the way.  Then a good go-over of all the floors with the dust-mop, and a damp-mopping if required. 

Just snapping that lid thunk off the Johnson’s paste wax can sent up its distinctive aroma---kind of a cross between Quaker State and Shinola, as I remember.  I can smell that piney, oily turpentiney scent now, as well as if I’d just dug a great handful out of the can with an old sock on my hand.


This was NOT a run-a-quick pad-on-a-stick around the floors---no, not for US.

This was a Three-Sock process---one on my hand for applying, and later, a fresh, dry pair for my feet for the polishing.   It was a hands-and-knees procedure, going backward across the floors, keeping the hand-sock well covered in the paste, applying circles and lines and sometimes my name (and a bad word, quickly erased, now and then, as the Summer heat and sun and dust came through the window-screens and the hot morning wore on in an aura of itchy-wool evergreens and sore knees til I felt covered in wax and lint).

   The first room was dry by the time I'd applied a layer to the last, and I'd go wash my face and arms and hands, and get something cold to drink before the polishing. Then I’d pull an old pair of Daddy’s wool socks on my bare feet, turn on WMPS radio, and rock ‘n’ roll the floors shiny.   I’d sorta shimmy-skate my way in from the doorway, getting all the way up into the far corner, where I’d use a wadded piece of old blanket, cut from a worn-out wooly one, with the square rubber-banded around the end of a heavy ruler to get precisely into the sharp little angles.

All the rest was a foot free-for-all, skimming and stopping to balance on one foot and give a particularly-stubborn spot a good sliding scrub with the other.

And yes, Daddy sometimes wore Monkey Socks, but they were beneath his workboots and nobody ever knew he was wearing vulgar footwear.

Sometimes, if Mother were in the mood, I’d invite a friend or two over to “dance the wax,” and we’d slip and slide and shake, laughing and singing with the radio, til the floors gleamed and we had to head to the fridge for big glasses of tea. 

They’d all head home for their own noon lunches, and I’d get the furniture all back into place, and THEN was the perfect time to go wash the car, getting wet and cool and clean as I sprayed and scrubbed.  Unless they'd all wanted to stay for that, me being the only girl in the neighbourhood, with houses full of BOYS all around---but that's another story.


Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Darling Rachel,

Well, those teenage years certainly were the days of your life. All that rock and roll and waxing. What was not to like?

So strange how certain scents can transport one back over the decades. There is nothing like a pungent aroma, such as that of the Johnson's wax, to immediately trigger memories. And, what fun memories you have shared with us today!

We could really do with an army of sock girls here on a Saturday morning to polish the wooden parquet floors of our apartment. There seem to be acres of them but we are sure that a couple of strapping lasses would soon have them shipshape and shining. Know anyone who might be interested?

Deborah Montgomery said...

what a picture you paint! hard work, followed by some real fun! I remember the wax and the socks too, but it was on furniture, so no dancing!
Loved your comment about the elephant on my blog!

Southern Lady said...

The smell of Johnson Wax still brings back fond memories of those Saturdays long ago. I remember the sock "gloves" for applying the wax, but we had a little maroon Regina polisher that did the polishing for us. My mother probably still has that polisher tucked away in a closet somewhere.

I'm going to send this post to her. I know she's going to love it as much as I did.

Kim S. said...

I haven't polished a floor in 30 years and I DON'T miss it, but I remember loving how it looked and smelled afterwards.