You’d think that adolescents would love weekends. After all there would be no school and they would be free to engage in whatever teen-sized activities they would choose. But not necessarily!
It was just before noon on a gorgeous autumn Saturday. I was 16 years old and I hated Saturdays. SAY WHAT?! Hated Saturdays? A teen that hated Saturdays? Why would a 16 year old kid hate Saturdays? Mondays, certainly, but Saturdays? Why? Well, I had good reason and so did my brother.
On one particular Saturday in 1951 my mother sent me on a grocery store errand on my trusty, single speed, fat-tired bicycle. This errand is not why I hated Saturdays. This errand would result in an “attitude adjustment”. She said we needed a loaf of bread. So, off I pedaled to the Twin Cedars grocery store/filling station which was about a mile away at the corner of Old Hammond hwy and Jefferson Hwy. We loved Twin Cedars. That little store had an old fashioned pot bellied stove and dispensed gas via old fashioned gravity pumps. Over the past 60 years that corner has undergone many commercial transformations. Today it is Café La Madeleine.
Anyhow, getting back to my “Saturday problem”, I purchased the loaf of bread and began my bike trek back home. But no sooner had I gone a mere 1000 feet than WHOOPS!! my stomach started grumbling and growling. I had forgotten that 2 hours earlier I had dutifully taken my weekly (Saturday morning) dose of castor oil. Ever had castor oil? If not, consider yourself blessed.
Speed-pedaling I frantically raced, trying to determine if I was going to make it home “accident free.” At about mid-route I was beginning to doubt whether I was going to make it. This single speed bike had never been pushed this fast. Go, go, go, get me home, GET ME HOME!!!! GO! GO!
Upon my return (so far, so good), I hastily leaped off the bike, charged into the house, and, thank God, safely made it to the bathroom….accident free. Whew! Made it! Outside the door my mother asked “Did you get the bread?” Realizing I did NOT have the bread, I said “Must have dropped it” “WHAT!” “I must have dropped it.” “Then why didn’t you go pick it up?” to which I said “Do you really need me to answer that?” She got it.
I was not the only kid in our house who was subjected to the weekly Saturday morning castor oil ritual. My 10 year old brother, Louis, also was. We both HATED Saturdays. Following each dose we would each be given a half of an orange to suck on to help kill the after taste. And yes we both came to hate oranges.
But on this particular Saturday, after my “near catastrophe”, I decided to address this subject head-on. I asked my mom “Why is it necessary for Wayne and me (family referred to my brother by his middle name) to take this stuff every week? Did God make a mistake?” She said “What do you mean?” I said “Well, God must have goofed up since we have to have ‘help’ each week.” She said “God didn’t mess up. It’s your grandmother who says you need to take castor oil every week.” “Huh!” “Maw Maw says you need your castor oil each week.” I said “So this is Maw Maw’s deal, not God’s? Why?” “Because she says so.” “That’s the reason? Because she says so?” to which Mom said “Jerry, we don’t question Maw Maw.” I then bravely announced “Well, if that’s the only reason, then I’m going to see if I can survive without it.” She said “You're going to make your grandmother angry.” “Well does she take this stuff also?” She replied “When you're grown up, you won't have to take it anymore.” To which I replied: “Well I'm grown up enough. I'm going to see if I can survive without it.” And then Wayne said “If Jerry stops, then I’m going to stop.” A couple of years after refraining from this ritual Wayne and I slowly regained our taste for oranges.
It’s now been over 60 years and we’ve survived so far. But my greatest relief was knowing that God had NOT made a mistake.
Oh! and Sundays weren’t much fun either. We had to take a special laxative to get the castor oil out of our systems. Yummy, yummy. We didn’t hate Sunday as much since the Sunday laxative, though bad, wasn’t nearly as bad as Saturday’s. But it did keep us close to home for several hours.
Good bye Castor Oil Saturdays!