Monday, May 13, 2019

**GRIOT** Bacon Grease Lotion

This is about one of the stories my mother liked to tell about her youth. (I lost part of the old notes about this one so... some things might be skewed. Forgive me, Mama.)

When my mother was a girl of about 14 or 15, she and her cousins had to walk quite a way to school. They took shortcuts through alleys and people's yards. Once when my one of my mother's cousins (I can't recall which one) had taken too much time getting ready for school, the other kids had gone ahead and left her. When she was almost ready to leave, she realized that there was no skin lotion around. There were a lot of girls in the home who all slicked up with moisturizer every day. Jergens was a household favorite but, when they ran out, they would use Crisco (which my mother still sometimes used as an elderly woman). This cousin noticed that not only had the lotion been used up but she couldn't even find the Crisco. Her skin was dried out from her bath and she needed to at least take care of the ash on her knees and elbows.

No lotion? No Crisco? The next best thing was some of the bacon grease that Grandma Jack collected in a tin can that sat on the stove. Bacon grease - aka fried meat grease or "seasoning grease" - was only mostly from bacon. Sometimes it was from ham drippings or some-other-part-of-the-pig drippings. People are more health conscious these days but back then, it joked that Southerners would eat everything on a pig but the toenails.

source in the photo

Anyway, this cousin had no choice. She dipped out some of that bacon grease and put a shine on her legs and arms.

I don't know how she was bothered by being ashy for one day but didn't mind smelling like a country breakfast. Maybe she had a poor sense of smell? Maybe but by the time she got a couple of blocks from home, she was reminded that dogs have a great sense of smell. It's not like they had to be bloodhounds. She was wearing pork grease. I smoked for a lot of years and to this day, I can walk into someone's house and tell if they use bacon grease to cook with...

Mama always got so tickled at the point of the story when she'd tell how her cousin had to sprint and leap a couple of low fences when some neighborhood dogs caught the smell of her on the wind. Apparently, despite her girly vanity (I mean, she could have waited to borrow lotion at school!), this chick could move like Wilma Rudolf and leap like a superhero.

The cousin made it to school in one piece but by the time she got there, she was a hot sweaty, stinking mess. Literally stinking. Bacon grease only smells good on bacon.

So that is one of the stories my mother used to tell. I'm glad that I had some notes in one of my old journals to remind me of it.