Tuesday, June 24, 2014

CLEAN PIPES

When my sister and I were in grade school, she in 3rd grade, me in 1st, we found out that helping around the house could be fun. We would take turns ironing pillow cases, towels, wash clothes, and handkerchiefs. We would take turns running the vacuum and dusting.

'Course, sometimes these things would have to be done over. And Grandmother would say "thank you" and my sister and I would then go off some place to play. Grandmother would then have to do some of the things over. We thought that we were being such a help. 

Then, we were shown how to wash dishes. Dishwashers were not really an everyday item in a lot of homes back then. They were done by hand. My sister would wash and rinse, and I would dry and put away the things in drawers. Plates and such had to be put away by Grandmother. 

One time, just before Christmas, Grandmother got out all of her good plates, silverware, gravy boat, and platters. She let me and my sister wash them up. I think we did a pretty good job of it. While we were busy with the dishes, our Grandfather walked into the kitchen smoking one of his favorite pipes. He watched us for a few minutes while he drank a cup of coffee. He made a comment about how dirty his pipes were. Every year, my sister and I bought Pappy pipe cleaners as a gift. Enough to last him almost the whole year! 

Well, we had already bought the pipe cleaners a few days before, and Grandmother wrapped them up for us to put under the tree. Pappy let us wash his coffee cup. He then went down into the basement to watch some TV. As I was drying the last fork and spoon, my sister made a comment about Pappy and those old stinky pipes of his. She said maybe we should wash them for him. It was Christmas Eve, and he would have all clean pipes Christmas morning. 

Yep, we washed them pipes. We washed them so good that the black yucky stuff in the bowls was all gone. The stems were shiny. All of that brown stuff on the outside of the bowls was gone. I had a hell of a time drying the bowls of those pipes, and my sister and I blew so much air through those stems to get them dry, that we were dizzy. We put the pipes back in the pipe rack and couldn't wait for Pappy to smoke from one of his clean pipes on Christmas morning.

The next morning, my sister and I were up early. Like, 5 a.m. early. We tried to be quiet as mice. (Yeah, like that would have happened.) Everyone finally got up. My sister and I were bouncing off the walls. Grandmother wanted to eat breakfast first. So, my sister and I had cold cereal with milk. Then we had a sugar rush going along with it being Christmas morning. None of the gifts had been opened. Pappy walked into the room with a cup of coffee and sat in his chair. 

He sat the coffee cup down, and picked up one of the pipes. He packed it with tobacco, lit a match, puffed once, puffed twice. He had kind of a funny look on his face, puffed again, looked at his pipe, smelled it. Then looked at the match he had used, smelled it, puffed again on the pipe. He then took a sip of coffee and put the pipe in his mouth. Puffed a few times and set the pipe down. He didn't pick it up again until after all the presents had been opened. 

He didn't relight the pipe; he dumped out the tobacco and put the pipe back in the rack. He had another cup of coffee, then went in to read the paper and smoke his pipe. This time, same pipe, he puffed and puffed and got the same funny look on his face. He looked at the pipe, and then looked at his pipe rack. He picked up one of them, and gave it a smell. He then picked up another pipe and smelled it. He got kind of red in the face. When we saw those little veins on his forehead sticking out, we knew we were in deep doo-doo. 

So, my sister and I did what every kid on the planet did back then. WE RAN! He didn't catch us, which is good. We went right to Grandmother and told her what we had done. She gave us a stern look, with a bit of a smirk, and then a grin, and then a laugh. Pappy came storming into the room. madder than an old goose. His face and head were so red, I'll bet we could have cooked an egg. He calmed down enough to let my sister explain. At least she didn't put all the blame on me.

From then on, we never touched Pappy's pipes. He still got pipe cleaners from us every year at Christmas until his last one. 

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