Tante Bridgette and Nonc Senias and their large family lived in a big house in the country.  The house was set back from the parish road and the driveway leading up to the front yard was lined with many big pecan trees.  The house was built in the shape of a T.  The top of the T was where the front room (living room) was located and there was a bedroom on each side of it, one being the parents' bedroom and the other, the large room where the girls slept.  This part of the house was two-storied, and the boys slept upstairs in the garconierre.  There was the usual "gallery" (front porch) across the front of the house, and on one end of it was a narrow, steep set of stairs leading to the boys' sleeping quarters.  The kitchen and dining area was a long narrow single-story  extension built onto the back of the living room.  It had a narrow covered porch on each side.  Near one of these porches was a well with a hand pump, and this porch was where the benches and tubs and scrub boards were, which the women used to do the family's laundry.  The other porch was where everyone sat to enjoy their mid-afternoon coffee.

Nonc Senias did not have an automobile, but he did have a nice wagon and a beautiful pair of mules.  He drove those mules to Abbeville once a month with Tante Bridgette's grocery list, and one summer day he stopped by in Perry to visit with my Dad.  He invited me to go "spend the week" with his family.  Mom hesitated, but Dad said I should go, so off we went in that wagon, over some rutted bumpy roads.  I was glad when we reached our destination, because I was beginning to feel kind of like I'd been beaten.

I spent three days with my cousins, and then I hitched a ride with the oldest boy, who was going to see his girlfriend in his horse-drawn buggy.  The days had been pleasant but I could not sleep at night.  I was being eaten alive!  This was a new experience for me, but I knew what was happening.  Those poor people had bedbugs!  I understood why Mom had hesitated about letting me go.

She wouldn't even let me in the house when I got home.  She had me fill a big wash tub with water from the bayou and handed me a bar of yellow laundry soap and said "Scrub!"  And I did, from head to toe, until my skin felt almost raw.  Mom brought a fresh towel from the house and some clean clothes for me, and then took all the clothes I had taken to Tante Bridgette's and the clothes I'd worn home, and boiled the bejabbers out of them.

That was my first, only and last experience with bedbugs!  And no one else in my family ever slept over at the Palombo house again.


Copyright © 2001 Aline T. Meaux, Abbeville, LA

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