Papa papered the parlour

From our January 2013 issue

By Bob McAuslan – Saskatoon, Sask.

While living in the Anglican manse in Marshall, Sask., during the mid-1940s, dad decided to help mom by papering the living room ceiling.

Paper was purchased and cut to the approximate lengths. After applying the underside with slightly lumpy glue, dad applied the first strip.

He made good progress and after stepping down from the chair, stood back to admire his handiwork. It looked good. The second strip was prepared in a similar manner as the first then also applied.

Lining up the two strips was always a challenge and completely new to dad. Mother always did the papering when he was out of sight.

He was successful in applying this second strip with only the odd space between the two. As he attempted to rectify these areas, small tears magically appeared at the edges of the second strip. Smoothing these areas caused further shifts and more tears. The situation looked hopeless to him.

After a couple of minutes making further adjustments and I might add, a couple of choice words, dad quickly grabbed both strips, pulled them quickly off the ceiling, crumpled them into a ball, and threw them in a corner.

Nary a word was spoken as he climbed down, grabbed his hat, and quickly left the house. Needless to say, not a word was spoken and no one smiled or laughed until dad was well out of earshot.

He soon returned without a word, he set down a package of calcimine, and quickly left the house. His wallpapering days were done forever.

I remember a few words from an old song or poem. They went something like this: “When Papa papered the parlour. You couldn’t see Papa for paste.”

Dad wasn’t quite this bad, but his adventure left me with a vivid memory and a good chuckle each time I recollect the day.