The Braille Monitor                                                                                              February, 2004

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Butch Wax

by Susan Jones

Susan Jones
Susan Jones
From the Editor: The following story is reprinted from The Car, the Sled, and the Butch Wax, the twenty-fourth in our Kernel Book series of paperbacks. It begins with President Maurer's introduction:

Susan Jones lives in Indianapolis and is a leader in the National Federation of the Blind of Indiana. Much of our work in the Federation revolves around striving for various kinds of equality in our lives. Reporting a delightfully humorous incident from her own childhood, Susan points out that blind youngsters sometimes have no problem in achieving equality of mischievousness. Here is what she has to say:

I was born blind in 1951, the second of five children, the rest all being sighted. One morning, when I was about five, my older brother Doug entered the kitchen for breakfast, and my mother said, "Your hair's standing straight up!" I put my hands to the top of my head and observed that my hair was lying down, quite flat. "How does he do that, Mom?" I asked.

"Butch Wax," she said.

Now for some reason I thought I would really look neat with my hair standing straight on end. So, as I finished my breakfast and went out to play, I plotted to find that Butch Wax.

Lunchtime came and went, and soon it was naptime. I used to nap in my older brother's room. I heard my mother as she gave her parting remarks to Madonna Blessing, our new nanny, who had just come: "I'm going to the club to swim. The kids are in bed. They shouldn't give you any trouble."

I heard the car drive out. "Good," I thought, "I've got some time to look for this stuff." I went to Doug's dresser and soon enough found a small jar. I opened it up and sniffed--yes, this must be it. Now, how much would it take? I reached three fingers in and grabbed a bunch, applying it liberally to my long hair. It smelled and felt luxurious as I worked it into my tresses.

I will never know what made Madonna come up and check on me, but I heard footsteps, so I rushed to close and replace the little jar. The door opened suddenly. "Susan, what are you doing?" she gasped.

She shampooed my hair with hot water, then again with cold water; but nothing took out the Butch Wax. She was sure my mother would be horrified when she returned home. She was right. Mom and her friend Mrs. Toney, who lived next door, spent all evening trying to remove the greasy stuff. They pulled with paper towels, then toilet paper.

Finally, after supper, Mrs. Toney said, "Why don't you try Cheer." Cheer was what we washed our laundry with. So my mother laid me on the top of the freezer, dangling my head into the washtub. She soaped my hair with Cheer and rinsed it out. Sure enough, most of the wax was removed. The rest would take days, perhaps weeks, to wear out.

What does this story have to do with my being blind? Well, nothing really, except to show that blind kids, like sighted kids, are curious and like to try new things. Happily, most of us, and our gray-haired parents, live to tell about it decades later.

We in the National Federation of the Blind believe that the average blind kid can get into the average amount of trouble in childhood in the average amount of time, as well as or better than the average sighted kid. How else can we be prepared to compete on terms of equality with our sighted peers?


If you or a friend would like to remember the National Federation of the Blind in your will, you can do so by employing the following language:

"I give, devise, and bequeath unto the National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230, a District of Columbia nonprofit corporation, the sum of $__________ (or "______ percent of my net estate" or "The following stocks and bonds: ________") to be used for its worthy purposes on behalf of blind persons."

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