My grandmother refused to allow anyone to walk on her floors on Saturdays

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.

Weekdays were another story.

When I was a little girl, my mother and I visited my grandparents often.

One thing I remember about visiting my grandparents' home was the newspapers all over the linoleum floors. No, they weren't hoarders, and the newspapers weren't on the floor all the time.

Just on Saturdays.

The newspapers were a part of my grandmother's floor-care routine. She had been laying newspapers on the floor of her apartment ever since my own mother was a little girl.

Every Saturday, my grandmother would sweep and mop the floors. When her children, including my mother, were younger and still lived with her, they performed those tasks under my grandmother's watchful eye.

After sweeping and mopping every floor in the house except for the carpeted living room, they would apply a layer of newspaper to the entire floor. The kitchen, both bedrooms, the pantry, the kitchenette, the hallway, and the bathroom all received a covering of last week's newspapers.

Once the newspaper was in place, the family was forbidden from stepping foot on the actual floor. All stepping was to take place strictly on the carefully applied newspapers. It was more challenging than it sounds.

In addition to sweeping, mopping, and newspapering the floors on Saturdays, my grandmother liked to use that day to air out the house. That meant open windows in every room to blow out the stagnated air and blow in fresh air from outdoors no matter what the season, temperature, or weather.

That also meant a brisk breeze was likely to carry my grandmother's meticulously arranged floor newspapers all over the house, leaving exposed linoleum that no one was allowed to touch.

Don't forget. My grandmother refused to allow anyone to walk on her floors on Saturdays. Her family could step only upon the newspapers that shifted in the breeze of the open windows and left unprotected gaps where no one was allowed to place their feet.

My grandfather and their four children were forced to hop from newspaper to newspaper to get from room to room or else face my grandmother's wrath.

They closed the windows on Saturday night and shuffled the newspapers back into place without their feet touching the linoleum.

On Sunday, the entire family went to church in the morning. Then on Sunday afternoon, they would collect all the newspapers and toss them into the trash. Someone, usually my mother, would vacuum the already-clean floors, and my grandmother's non-patented floor-care routine would be complete until the next weekend.

"Then for the rest of the week, we did nothing to the floors," my mother told me. "I never understood it. Why cover the floors in newspapers for a day? Why vacuum the floors when they were already clean? And why didn't we care the rest of the week?"

My mother said she asked my grandmother once in her older years.

"What was the reason we had to cover the floors with newspapers every Saturday?"

My grandmother shrugged. She didn't have an answer, either.

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