When I was a little girl I would always tag along when Grandma went to the "mahogany" bush to break her a new toothbrush. The bush grew on the creek bank behind our house so I was always ready to go with her since the creek was somewhere that I was forbidden to go alone. Grandma always explained that when she was growing up that the twigs were the only kind of toothbrush that she had. Naturally, I immediately had to have a piece too.
After she got back to the house, she would chew the end to fray it out so it looked like a tiny little paint brush. Then, she would dip this into her can of Big G sweet Scotch snuff and use it to clean her teeth. She always had a can of Big G sitting on the little table right beside her rocking chair. She warned me to never, ever mess around with her can of snuff.
One day, I was sitting in her rocking chair engaged in one of my favorite activities: rocking back and forth to beat the band! She was in the kitchen canning pickles, so I knew that she was very busy and was not likely to come into the sitting room any time soon. I kept on looking at that little shiny silver can of snuff. Rocking back and forth. The light was just glinting off of that can. Taunting me. Back and forth. That little can just really wanted me to pick it up! Back and forth.
I finally stopped and sneaked over to the kitchen door to make sure that grandma was still busy. She was. I tiptoed back to the rocking chair and sat down. I knew that I shouldn't do this and that I was potentially going to get a whipping for misbehaving, but I just could not stop myself! My hand reached toward that little forbidden can. I slowly twisted the top off and peered in at the brown powder. I slowly stuck a finger into the powder. It almost felt like baby powder. I wonder what it smells like? I slowly brought the can up to my nose. As it got closer, my nose started feeling a little twitchy but I was just a little girl and did not heed my nose's warning. I stuck my nose right into that little can and took a big, healthy sniff! Good lord! Snorting liquid fire could not have hurt as bad as that snoot full of snuff! I immediately dropped the snuff can, grabbed my nose, and started screaming and crying!
Grandma came running out of the kitchen thinking that I had a mortal injury. Imagine the scene. Me holding my nose, crying, and what had been an almost full can of snuff was now all over the floor, the rocking chair, and me. Grandma grabbed me up and made me start blowing my nose to try to get all of that powdered snuff out. She washed my face off with a wet cloth because when I initially sniffed and it hit my five year old sinuses, my natural response was to exhale, HARD! That blew snuff back out of the can all over my face, so not only was that vile powder IN me, it was all OVER me too! After she finally got me un-snuffed, both outside and in, she scolded me, but I did not get a whipping. She said that the agony that I experienced was punishment enough.
Sure. I really did deserve a whipping for doing something that I KNEW was wrong from the start. I was just being a devilish little child. I have quite a few stories like this one where I discover the reasoning behind being told to NOT do something. Maybe that was really an early indicator that I should have been a scientist so that I could more closely examine cause and effect!
********After doing a bit of research, I discovered that the brand of snuff that my Grandmother used was produced by the George W. Helme Company in New Jersey. She always removed the tan-colored label from the tins when she opened them. I have searched high and low for a photo of one of the cans with the paper label still attached and cannot find one anywhere. I remember that the label had a big "G" right in the middle. Does this sound familiar to anyone?
Copyright 2012--All Rights Reserved--The Wheel & Distaff by Kimberly Burnette-Dean.