SPRING WORK

Water from the hose splashed as I rinsed pollen and dust from my window screens.   Satisfied the air’s annual residue was gone, I toweled the screen and frame dry.

Helper, Terri, was assisting with the spring work. Hubby carried a six-foot stepladder that she climbed to polish outside panes.   Years ago, I was part of a differentthree-person team: Mother, Daddy and me.

I was nine years old in 1953, the first spring I was big enough to help do the window work.  In Third Grade, I was so tall, I had to sit in the back row. Several months before, I had even helped Mother move my twin bed up the stairs.

In the house that morning, Mother had called me over to her. “You have to help your dad carry those heavy windows today.”  She leaned toward me and said in a near whisper, “Remember, he has a hernia.  He’s not supposed to lift heavy things.”

I nodded.  I want to help Daddy.

 

Mother took a bottle of blue Windex and a rag she made from Daddy’s old t-shirt outside to her step-ladder.  Daddy carried a  l-o-n-g painters’ ladder with round rungs and leaned it against the house. It reached all the way to the top windows.  Daddy turned to me.  “Sit on the ladder, Junior.”

I frowned. “I thought I was going to help.”

His eyes turned serious.  “This is very important. If someone doesn’t steady the ladder, it could slide and I’d fall off.  While you sit on my ladder, your mother has time to clean windows.”

He glanced over at her on the stepladder squirting Windex on the dining room window. “Someone has to hold my ladder firm.”

“OK.” I don’t want Daddy to fall!

Wearing his white undershirt and work pants, Daddy climbed to my bedroom window and lifted off a heavy storm.  He called, “Berta!”

Mother rushed over from her perch and reached up to help ease the heavy storm to the ground. Once it was down, she returned to window-cleaning.

Daddy picked up one end of the window and called, “Here, Junior.”  He pointed at one end.

I lifted that end and he picked up the other.

He directed me. “Just walk into the garage. That’s right. Toward the back. OK. Now set down your end.”

He took a hold of both sides of the window and “walked” it back to lean against the side wall.  He turned to me.  “We’ll stack them here until next fall.”

He moved to a stack of screens. “We’ll save a trip and carry this out to be washed.”

By late morning, the sun shone on the alley side of the house. Sitting on a low rung, I took off my socks and shoes and twiddled my toes in long blades of grass.

The storms were down by noon.  We sat and rested over soup and sandwiches, then went back to work. I followed Daddy outside to the stack of dusty screens, but he shook his head at me.

 

The attached garage is new, but 410 E. Douglas St.  still has lots of second story windows.

The attached garage is new, but 410 E. Douglas St.  still has lots of second story windows.

 

“Screens are light.”  He turned the hose into a bucket with powdery Spic and Span. Water roared into the galvanized pail and suds bubbled up. “I can wash them myself. You go help your mom.”

About then, Mother called, “Fritzie?  Come help me!”  Her voice came from up high. I held my hand to my eyes and followed the sound. She was standing on the side of the front porch roof, waving her white rag. “I’m finished here. I need help with the rest of the upstairs windows.”

I brightened. Spraying Windex might be fun.

My smile faded when Mother explained, “I’ll lean out the window and wipe the outside of the glass. I need you to hold my legs inside the house, so I don’t fall.”

I eyed the blue Windex and Mother saw my disappointment.  She softened.  “Another time, Honey. I need you to hold me in!”

“OK.” Leaning out is dangerous.

My outlook lifted when Mom turned on the Zenith radio-alarm in the front bedroom. I knew some of the music and sang along with “That’s Amore’” and “Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes.”

 

Doing windows with Hubby and Terri wasn’t the same, yet it brought back a sweet memory of spring family work.

I am blessed.

Frances Fritzie

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