Cheap Soap


After we bought the car, they knew my dad everywhere here in Scottsbluff. “Hey, Jake. You want some wind?” That’s what they said to him when we went in the filling stations for them to put air in the tires. In those times, you went in, and they did everything. They even washed your windshield.

We went in, and he told ’em, “Hey! Put me some wind.” But he didn’t know there was two words for ‘air’ in English. For him, they were the same. But he could make himself understood, a señas y en inglés todo mocho.

One day, he went to the store to buy some soap. Oh, how I remember the ‘cheap soap’. My mom told him to go get some soap for her because she didn’t have any to wash. He was the one with the money, so he bought everything. So, he went over here to Diers Brothers to get some soap.

He told Diers, “Hey. Gimme soap.” In those times, you asked the clerk what you needed, and they brought it to you.

“Uh-huh. What kind?”

“Cheap soap.”

“Cheap soap?” There goes Diers to look for it. He brought him some chips, soap that comes in little pieces.

“No, no, no. Cheap soap!”

“This is the cheapest I got.”

“Come on! Cheap!”

There goes Diers to go look. He told him, “Come on. Show me.”

So there goes my dad to go show him what he was looking for. Finally Diers saw what it was.

“Oh, sheep soap! Okay. Sheep. You’re right, Jake, you’re right. Sheep soap.” It was Crystal Soap, but it had a picture of a sheep on it.

My dad made himself understood. But in those times you had to ask for everything in the stores. It wasn’t like now when you go get it and you take it to the cash register.

My dad wanted to learn how to drive, too, but he wrecked it. That was the first wreck. I think he was drunk. He didn’t wanna drive it no more. From then on, he made me the driver.

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