Lucille family helper for grandmother

Lucille Juracek, who helped take care of our home and family while my mother taught school

Anton and Helen Juracek and their five children moved from Nebraska to Snyder so that Anton and their oldest son, George, could work in one of the granite quarries.  Marvin and Mae were in high school.  Daughters Leona and Lucille worked outside the home as domestic help.  They were a quiet, fun loving, musical family.

Since Mother was teaching school, she hired Lucille to work for us at $l.50 a week, the usual rate at that time for such work.  For five days a week, she would look after my sister, Alice Melinda, clean house and prepare our noon meal, which we called dinner.  She would go home as early as possible except on Tuesdays.  On Tuesdays, she would stay later and help us with our evening meal, which we called supper.  Mother would be attending the Tuesday Bridge Club meeting immediately after school around 4 o’clock.

The Tuesday Bridge Club members were schoolteachers who would rush to one of the member’s homes after school to have a light meal and play a few fast hands of contract bridge.  When the club met at our house, Lucille would help Mother with the meal before returning home.  Alice Melinda and I would stay out of the way and eat something later.  I would not even go into the house while the women were there.

We loved Lucille and were saddened when she moved away several years later and was replaced by an older woman.  Most of all I remember that Lucille was a great cook.  My favorite dishes that she prepared were porcupine meatballs, pork chops with bread stuffed green peppers and the wonderful pies, especially the butterscotch ones.

Here are a couple of stories involving Lucille that I will never forget:

It was one of the Tuesdays that Lucille stayed late to help Mother with the meal for the Tuesday Bridge Club.  I was loafing in the back yard when Mother came bouncing out of the house with a very worried look on her face.  With a nervous quiver in her voice she said “James, we have a horrible problem.  Lucille was chewing gum as usual and her gum dropped into the chicken salad, She has looked and looked and cannot find it.  What are we going to do”?  I immediately came up with what I thought to be the perfect solution and said “That’s no problem, just offer a prize to the lady who finds it in her salad.”  Mother yelled “James, you are no help at all” and rushed back into the house.

About five minutes later, Mother came back into the yard with a relieved look on her  face and announced the Lucille found the gum in the pocket of her apron.  What good news.  The ladies never knew of the near tragedy and Lucille and I were off the hook.

Lucille did much of her personal grooming at our house and left some of her beauty products in the bathroom medicine cabinet.  Unlike today there was a lot of space available in the cabinet.

Included in her treasury was a bottle of Halo Shampoo  as well as fingernail polish and other compounds that I had never seen or heard of,  We used hand soap to wash our hair and if you wanted to take the time you could rinse with vinegar.  I think that blondes used lemon juice.

This was when musical jingles were first used on the radio for advertising.  I particularly remember the ones for Shinola Shoe Polish, nickel Pepsi Cola and Halo Shampoo.  The one for Halo Shampoo was broadcast over and over and I can still sing it.  Like most twelve year olds, I was very susceptible to this advertising.

The temptation was great and I wanted to see if shampoo would make my hair look like Mickey Rooney’s.  I took Lucille’s shampoo from the cabinet and poured a little on my hair and rubbed it all over my head.  I didn’t know what it was supposed to do but it didn’t feel as good to the touch as my hand soap.  I supposed that shampoo did not lather like hand soap does.  I didn’t think that it had glorified my hair as advertised.  I decided that I would see if anybody noticed my Halo hair.  I did not receive any comments about the beauty of my hair so I decided that shampoo was not worth it. I knew that I would not spend my money on such nonsense.

A few days later, Lucille asked if anybody had used any of her shampoo.  I wilted.  My theft has been discovered.  I muttered that I was the culprit.  With this acknowledgement, Lucille broke into laughter and said that what I used was fingernail polish remover.  She had poured it into the shampoo bottle.  Everybody laughed but me.

I was mortified.  The incident was never mention after that.  I still strongly question anything I place in or on my body.


Jim Pershall

March, 2009