by Eva Pasco
Even after tempest-tossed rides in the back of our Plymouth Suburban station wagon,
unrestrained by seatbelts; scrapes dexterously painted with Mercurochrome; inhaling noxious fumes from
airplane glue piecing together science projects; keeping company with a subversive, streetwise “wabbit”
talkin’ rapid-fire trash; two drunken brawlers named Popeye and Bluto beating the living daylights out of each
other over Olive Oyl; a stooge poking his fingers in the eyes of the other two or bopping them on the head
with a two by four—my sister and I survived the Sixties without becoming juvenile
delinquents. In fact, we
not only survived the whole ball of wax, but thrived on parental upbringing devoid of mollycoddling or
nurturing belief in the tooth fairy or Easter Bunny.
Whenever I wax nostalgic about growing up in the Sixties, I don’t need to
hop in the back seat of a black cab inside Madame Tussauds to journey through “The Swinging
Sixties.” My mind waxes and wanes as it trips along Memory
Lane—I hear wax paper rustling and the tear of crisp sheets from a roll of Reynold’s Cut Rite as my mother
wrapped torpedo rolls stuffed with peppers, sausage, and mushrooms for our school lunches and packed two for my
father. Some days she wax wrapped sandwiches of whole
peppers, other times-- tomatoes and eggs, or tuna salad.
The invention of wax paper credited to Thomas Edison or Thomas Conners,
one of his assistants, was great to roll pie dough for those blueberry pies she made all summer
long. My mother would sprinkle plenty
of flour on a sheet, center a hunk of dough on it, sprinkle more flour, then cover with a top sheet of wax paper before commencing to flatten and stretch the dough with a
She’d tear top and bottom sheets the length of the kitchen table for
making homemade gnocchi—roundish knots of dough pinched from long strands, preserved in wax paper until she was
ready to boil the pasta.
I remember collecting colorful specimens of autumn leaves—oak, maple,
sassafras, and elm—pressing each one between two notebook-sized pieces of wax paper, and tucking a neatly
printed label inside. Lightly passing the iron over a cloth buffer
transferred the wax onto the leaf to preserve it. I came across this childhood treasure years later in adulthood. Madame Tussaud would have been proud!
I can’t wax nostalgic without giving an honorable mention to the wax lips
my sister and I clowned around with, dressed in our mother’s vintage clothes. We also slurped syrup from wax
sticks and miniature wax bottles not unlike the gratuitous Vodka bottles the airlines gave
out. As I mentioned earlier, my sister and I survived
the “whole ball of wax”.
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