This story can be included or left out. I leave that decision to the three of you. I’m writing it down because it happened and I can confirm that getting ones mouth washed out with Fels Naptha yellow laundry soap is not a pleasant experience. Shannon can also verify the tendency of older siblings to instigate and urge the younger, more innocent, and naïve person to commit acts that go beyond the “normal” patterns of genteel behavior.
This incident occurred after we had been at the farm for about a year. I was still very easily manipulated at the age of 4½ - 5 years old. It was summertime and we - mom and all six children, Jack, Dick, Dugal, Me, Sally and Alex - were in the summer kitchen where mom was doing laundry. I assume Jack and Dick were there to carry water from the well, to the stove and thence to the laundry tubs. The rest of us were there because that was where everybody else was.
There was also one other person there. For lack of a better name and to protect anyone from being embarrassed I will call him “Mr. Dofuss.” All of us kids were playing on the floor with clothespins and other odds and ends and not paying much attention to what was going on around us. With the exception of Jack and Dick who because of their advanced years had a suspicion of what was happening.
In retrospect, I now understand what prompted their action. Jack and Dick started taking turns whispering in my ear.
“Hey Rod, Tell him to go away.”
“Call him a fatso.”
"Tell him to stay away from mom!”
“Tell him he stinks.”
All of this prompting drew my attention to what was happening by the laundry tub. It seemed to me that mom and Mr. Dofuss were playing tag, back and forth around the tub. Dofuss doing a lot of reaching and grabbing but mom being quicker with very good reflexes succeeded in evading his grasp. This was beginning to really annoy Jack and Dick so they increased the urgings for me to intervene.
Jack finally whispered to me, “You’re yellow, you don’t dare call him a lard ass and tell him he should go away”.
Well this was the ultimate challenge. There was no alternative. Rising to my feet I walked the two or three steps to place myself in front of Dofuss, looked him in the eye and loudly spoke my lines.
“Hey, lard ass, why don’t you go home!”
Such a flurry of activity ensued. Dick was hollering, ”He did it, he did it” Jack was laughing, Dugal was shocked into silence and Sally giggled.
Mom grabbed the laundry soap and not too gently inserted it into my mouth.
“Maybe this will clean up your filthy mouth.” (I could tell she was trying VERY hard not to smile).
In the meantime Mr. Dofuss was trying to get his belt off while mumbling on about taking the young brat out behind the woodshed for a lesson in manners. This activity caused mom to smile at me, turn and pick up the heavy wooden laundry paddle. Facing Mr. Dofuss, in a voice that was like cast iron she simply stated, ”I agree with my son, Go away, and don’t ever come back, LARD ASS!”
He left. We cheered. He never came back.