Neatnik Gypsies

Moving all over America (& into Mexico & Canada), we often stopped to camp for a day or two along the way. There weren’t always motels or boarding houses where Dad did his cartography for the USGS.

Mom & Dad were “neat freaks.” Dad taught us kids to wash dishes as soon as we could toddle. Camp washing was different than rental/boarding house or trailer sink washing. We kids knew cleaning was crucial.

Dad kept a microscope from University of Wyoming Biology class. He’d let us collect pond water, swabs from inside our mouths & spit (Bob’s, ew!) We got to help put the slides together & then took turns looking at all the bustling germs, magnified as huge as the monsters we’d seen at drive-in movies!

OK, pay attention now.” Dad had a temper but he was a great teacher, always going slowly, step-by-step and demonstrating each step.

Step one, get your containers—pot, pan or metal bucket. You need two: one for washing in, one for rinsing.

Step two, go to a source of clear water. You always want to camp near clear water.

Step three, fill your container.

Step four, set the container down in the coals left over from cooking your meal.

Step five, make sure that water boils. You can kill germs with boiling water.

Step six, put the bar of soap in & swish it around with a big spoon. The water is too hot to touch!

Step seven, dump in your utensils & cups, plates—everything. Let it sit about five minutes. Everything will be germ-free & the water will cool down enough to touch.

Step eight, get your dishrag. Rub some soap onto it. Scrub the silverware first, then dishes. Last, pots & pans. Drop each cleaned item into the second pot of boiling water. This will double kill germs. After that water cools, take everything out, one-by-one & dry it all. Put utensils in the silverware box dishes in the dish box & pots & pans in their box.

Mom kept wooden crates for everything. Labeled neatly with permanent marker on masking tape. Super organized gypsies!

Dad Dixie Dance bed
Dad teaches Dixie to dance on Miz Bonnie’s bed.
I wasn’t quite old enough to do dishes at campsites!

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