Pete Pearson’s Eyebrows

This week I’ve heard from several PORs (Pre-Order Readers.). They were concerned because they had received notices from Amazon saying that the pub date for Collateral Damage has been moved—to 2045!  I may still be around in 2045, but there’s a good possibility that I won’t be.  So yes, that book’s pub date is being pushed back for a couple of months, but hopefully not by 23 years!  Writing this one has been a real challenge for me, so be patient, folks, I’m doing the best I can.

Other than that, when it came time to write the blog this morning, I noticed that the pump on the blog well was dry and in need of priming.  Unsurprisingly, dealing with the problem brought me back to my mother.  Whenever there was a lag in the conversation, Evie Busk would always say, “We could always talk about Pete Pearson’s eyebrows.”

The interesting thing is, after dropping that line, nobody ever actually TALKED about Pete Pearson or his eyebrows.  Instead, they found some other topic of discussion, but I was always left wondering:  Who exactly was Pete Pearson?  To my knowledge, I never met the man.  And why were his eyebrows so interesting and memorable?  I’ve always imagined they had to be very bushy, and probably either black or gun-metal gray.  Maybe they resembled Groucho Marx’s eyebrows which were indeed bushy.

But thinking about Groucho Marx (Was he grouchy?) brings me straight back to Evie, too.  My mother washed on Monday and ironed on Tuesday—every single week.  She never had a clothes dryer.  Her washed clothes went on a clothes line.  With a family of seven kids, that amounted to a lot of time spent outside hanging clothes under southern Arizona’s bright and sometimes blazingly hot sun.

Evie and her forebears were all of Swedish descent which is to say fair-haired and fair-skinned.  Unsurprisingly, after all those years of hanging clothing in the sun, by the early 1970s, she began developing bits of skin cancer on her face, and most especially on her nose. The doctor told her she needed to stay out of the sun, but with washing to be done every week that wasn’t an option.  Sun block may have been available back then, but I’m not personally aware of it, and she wasn’t much into wearing caps or hats.  So what did Evie do?  She bought herself a Groucho Marx rubber face mask.  The fake frames on the mask’s glasses fit perfectly over her real ones, so she could see just fine, and her nose was no longer in the sun.  From then on, that’s what she wore whenever she went outside to hang clothes.

One day, after the folks had moved from town to Bisbee Junction, my younger brother Jim stopped by to visit, bringing along one of his buddies. It was a Monday, so naturally my mother was out at the clothes line when they came around to the back of the house.  My brother started to introduce his friend by saying, “This is my mother,’ but just then Groucho Marx emerged from behind a bed sheet, and “This is my mother,” turned into, “This is my … mother?”

I doubt either Jim or his buddy ever forgot about that encounter, and I haven’t, either.  And now you know how my having nothing to write about today inevitably led me to my mother and Groucho Marx.

I’m still laughing about that, and I hope you are, too.

Have a great week.

38 thoughts on “Pete Pearson’s Eyebrows

  1. I remember as a young girl helping my mother hanging clothes on the line and my mother complaining about the people down the street who always, according to her, burned their trash when she washed (on Mondays!).

    When I married as a teen bride years later, I loved washing my husband’s clothes and hanging them out on the line in the backyard across the street from the house where I lived as a young child. My first memory of how small the world and time is or can be!

    I loved that fresh air smell that Downy tries so hard to re-create (and fails miserably). And how stiff from the Kansas’ winter wind our clothes were. How free I felt as I hung each piece in the bright, hot summer sky.

    Strange the things we remember!?

  2. I pre order your books on my kindle. I did get a notice from Amazon about the publication date being moved back. I think that it said until December 2022. I am much too impatient to wait until 2045! ?

    I did giggle out loud at the idea of Groucho Marx hanging up your mom’s laundry every week. I guess the mask would do the job of keeping the sun off of her face tho. It was probably cheaper in the long run than buying sunscreen all the time. That would have been a big factor with my mom who came of age during the great depression. That is if they had even heard of sunscreen.

  3. My grandmother was also very fair skinned. Her solution was to cut the feet out of an old pair of nylons and pull them up her arms…and a big straw hat. Oh the precious memories.

  4. When my husband needed nose surgery for his skin cancer, we bought a similar Groucho mask. Ted wore it into the surgery on the morning of and gave the doctor a good laugh! I’m sure Evie would have been proud!

  5. My memories of hanging cloths was from the cold northeast. Hanging cloth diapers on a line and my husbands long Johns in the winter was no fun. It also resulted in cloths being brought inside and hung all around to thaw.

  6. ‘You Bet Your Life” with the Secret Word Duck, comes to mind, because of the Mask reference. Thank you for helping me remember Live TV. Your printing date, seems as though might have been changed by a Robot or algorythum with in the many publishers you deal with. (Sign of the times) ? If there is anything that We or I can do to speed that up let us know….I am looking forward to the 41st Instalment. Even though I still have approx 20 of your documents to read. thank you for raising the water level in Our Well. Since it is Positive in dark times. and is instantaneous. Sincerely with Much Aloha! Chuck in Tacoma.

  7. My Mom was a real character also. Would not wear a hearing aide – just told people they were mumbling, had macular degeneration – refused to admit that also. She needed a cane but used a broom to walk to her mailbox.
    As for hanging clothes outside on line – they smell fantastic. Worked with a guy whose wife hung clothes out on the line & I used to love to smell his shirts!!

  8. You’ve provided such a hysterical visual of the Groucho Marx mask! My Friday is complete!

  9. What a great idea. I, too, have fair skin and usually got sunburned and more freckles if out in it too long. I’ve never had a drier as like to hang clothes outside. A wooden rack works in the winter.

    Don’t have a dishwasher as I like getting my arthritic hands in the hot water. I think paying for the extra electricity for these appliances is a waste of money,

  10. You mother sounds like fun.
    I would have loved to have seen the expression on your brother’s face when he was confronted with your mother in a Groucho Marx mask.

  11. I love your blogs! And ,of course, your books! I’m so glad a friend put me on to your blogs. We live ,part time, in Vancouver B. C.and when the conversation got dicey we say” What about them Canucks.” Always a conversation changer.

  12. I’m still LOL! Especially as I saw an ad on tv this morning about some new detective story/series that showed our lady detective commenting on the other male detective having his eyebrows trimmed! No wonder the new thing in houses is double VANITIES.

  13. Byron and I enjoyed this story and we are still laughing with tears running down our cheeks. Thank you for sharing Pete Peterson and your Mom in her Groucho Marx mask.
    We always appreciated your Mom and her constant devotion to her husband and to her children. So supportive and caring.

  14. Thank you so much for your weekly blog! This pas week I’ve had several tests because of a colon cancer diagnosis…so it’s been a rough week! You made me laugh and it was much needed!??Thank you!!

  15. Along with everyone else, I’m DEFINITELY laughing and will be as longs as I’m doing laundry and putting clothes in the dryer. I can just see her with the Groucho Marx glasses and nose combination. What an ingenious idea. I would love to adopt that into my daily walking apparatus.

  16. I always hung clothes on a line. In the 60s, I would wash a load in the am before leaving for work. Wringer washer. Hang them on the line, sometimes in damp dreary weather. In So Calif. Returning after dark, the clothes still felt damp. 2 years later, We bought an automatic washer (1962). In 1980, I finally moved to a house where I had room and bought a dryer! Mourned the lack of lines to hang sheets on. Sorry to hear about the delay. I read some on my kindle, but not my favorite authors. DTR. With the font size changing, I may get a magnifying reader. I am 84, determined to read as long as I can.

  17. Yes, you bet! I’m sitting here cackling away, for sure!
    And I’ve certainly seen eyebrows that weren’t Pete Pearson’s, but that had me itching to smooth them out.

  18. I’m still laughing, your mom had a great sense of humor and I bet you kids all had a laugh out of it too. Too funny, thanks for the humor on Friday.

  19. I love your Evie stories. Thank you for the belly laughs today. Excited for the new book also. Have a great weekend.

  20. JA, your blog today brought up a couple memories of laundry scenarios for me. The first was about a story my mother use to tell me about when we lived with my grandfather in his trailer for a while in some very cold state, either Wyoming or one of the Dakotas. Anyway, my mother would wash my diapers by hand and hang them out to dry, but it was so cold that they would freeze. When they thawed, my mom said they felt SO soft!
    The other memory, which I do remember experiencing, was having to do when we lived in Madrid, Spain in the 50s and 60s for ten years. The apartment we lived in was quite luxurious, but I don’t think the electrical system was. I would sometimes get electrocuted as our washing machine would often overflow, and as I stepped onto the wet floor in the laundry room, in my bear feet, I would now and then get quite a shock.
    Thanks for bringing these childhood memories back to me. They’re priceless and make me smile. Wishing you a great week too!

  21. Isn’t it amazing the journey our mind takes in a matter of minutes?
    I love this story! ?

  22. I am definitely going to use the “Pete Pearson’s Eyebrows” line for every lull in any future conversation- God Bless Evie!
    My Mother-in-Law taught me about the benefits of using a clothesline as opposed to a dryer- Then when my husband and I visited cousins on his side in Sicily, I saw that virtually every balcony in Ragusa had clothes hanging out to dry, such a colorful and cheerful sight to behold-
    So I won’t have to use my back-up plan for projected publication date of 2045, which would be to bequeath “Collateral Damage” to family members currently in Elementary School-

  23. This was priceless! And many of us remember wash on Monday (sprinkle) and iron on Tuesday. Mom sprinkled with a ketchup bottle painted red with Mexican decals. I was married a long time before I realized I could wash and iron on other days! Still hang my sheets, especially, on the line and my Mom hung clothes out until she needed assisted living even though she had a dryer. Thanks for the memories. (Oh! That was Bob Hope not Groucho. )

  24. I love my clothesline and the indoor racks for winter! We used the clothesline in the summers in Massachusetts, including for diapers. Once we came out to Oregon, we decided to build a net-zero solar-powered house, and part of the process was planning to limit the energy use in general. We chose not to install a clothes dryer. I still had the indoor racks I inherited from my first mother-in-law, and we added one of those portable closet racks for hanging clothes on hangers. We put up an outdoor line for nice days. Every spring I trek to the laundromat with the king-sized winter comforter because it doesn’t fit in our regular washer, but it comes home to dry in the yard.

    My mom had clotheslines in the basement of the house where we lived from when I was 5 till I was 8. One day we were fooling around down there and I took it into my head to swing on the line. It broke, and I woke up in my bed, having knocked myself out in the fall. I must have been out a while because the doctor was there when I came to.

    Here in Corvallis, I am often visited by hummingbirds when I’m hanging clothes outside. The brighter the clothes, the more likely a visit. They must be hoping that the orange, red, yellow clothes are new flowers. My brother-in-law was amused by the clothes hanging outside. They don’t exactly see many clotheslines in suburban DC!

    Since there are only two of us now, I can get by with just two or three loads a week, and in the summer I hang it out as early in the morning as I can, avoiding the strongest sun. I’ve pretty much kept myself inside during the peak sunlight, and don’t bother with sunscreen. I take the laundry in when the sun is past its peak but the dew has not arrived.

    The mask had me laughing out loud, too!

  25. Isn’t there a “poem” about what a housewife is supposed to do each day? We washed on Mondays and ironed on Tuesdays. I don’t remember what we were supposed to do the other days, but my Grandma always baked four loaves of brown bread on Saturdays. Mom would make cakes and pies to have on Sundays when usually folks would drop in for coffee around 4 in the afternoon.

    • From the time of the Mayflower:
      Wash on Monday, Iron on Tuesday, Bake on Wednesday, Brew on Thursday, Churn on Friday, Mend on Saturday, Go to meeting on Sunday.

      A more modern take:
      Wash on Monday, iron on Tuesday, mend on Wednesday, churn on Thursday, clean on Friday, bake on Saturday, church on Sunday

      • Thanks for that. As a farm wife my Mom had many jobs spread out over the days. She said she liked to churn butter as that was the only time she got to sit down. She would have a magazine or newspaper on the table to read as she churned. The church was a large glass jar that she held on her lap.

  26. I have real all the books, most more than once, but most of all I love the stories about your mom!! And this one is the best!

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