The tar babies 8



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I blame Uncle Remus’ story, “The Tar Baby”, for what happened one lovely summer day in the UK, many years ago. The story left such an impression on my young mind, so, when I saw the lovely big tub of tar the workmen had left by the roadside when they went for their lunch, I was so excited. I told my little brother and sister I would make us all into tar babies. I did! I covered us all in tar! Hair, face arms and legs. Three little children, once white with white-blonde hair became black all over in minutes.

We loved it and played at being tar babies for a while. Suddenly a piercing scream filled the air and mother came running over to us.

“What on earth have you done?”, she asked, rather pointlessly, as we all stood shaking in our shoes in front of her. My aunt Kit, who was visiting at the time came running out to us wondering what the screaming was all about. She just stood there and roared with laughter at the sight of us.

All three of us burst into tears, as we became aware of a burning sensation all over us. Yes! Tar burns – did you know that?  Well I didn’t, till that moment. We started screaming and Mum panicked, as she realised what was happening.

Unable to touch us, Mum and Aunty herded us into the back kitchen. They sat us up on the table well padded with newspapers and covered us from head to toe in Tallow grease. The three of us screaming and wriggling us they did so. What a sight and what an experience. I will never forget the rubbing and the awful smell of the tallow. The burning, and the many baths it took to get our skin white again; or should I say red?  It was so sore. It was a long time before all traces of the tar was gone from our hair. Much of which had to be cut off.  I still love the Uncle Remus stories, but you could say I read the tar baby from a very different aspect now.

This happened a long time ago, but my brother and sister have never let me forget the day I turned them into ‘tar babies’. Though we can laugh about it now, of course!


What mischief did you and your siblings get up to when you were kids? Share with us below.

Violet Apted

My name is Violet and I have two daughters and one son who have given me five adorable grandchildren. I have been freelance writer and tutor at U3A creative writing for 8 years as well as Writing forum host on 50plus website for 10 years and am now retired. I enjoy writing, using the computer and music and my dream would be to take a world cruise, as I have a love of the sea and also to write a bestseller! I’ve travelled to Egypt, Asia, Europe, USA, the UK and Africa but am originally from Sussex and lived in Kent before I moved to Australia in 1976 where I live in Brisbane. I am a contributing author in the book ‘FORGETMEKNOTS FROM THE FRONT PORCH’ published in USA last year by Obadiah Press. I have completed my first novel, a Murder abduction story and it is now published. All my books are available on as well as FaceBook. My favourite writing would be Children’s stories and I have written many for my grandchildren. Two are now published!

  1. This is a marvellous story. I lived in an army camp and was supposedly under the watchful eye of “Old Ma” next door, as Mum had to work. She was the grandma of two very lively boys my age and we just roamed free. Too many ” naughty ” things to mention, but it was all a massive adventure. One of the more helpful things we did was fill up the petrol tank of the only car in the camp with water. We also tried to fly off the ablution block roof with pillow cases tied around our necks, and that did not end up well at all!

  2. We were not naughty children, father too strict and too prone to belting us for any small wrong doing.

  3. my mother told me (in one of her lucid moments) that when I was around 3-1/2 and my brother about 2 that we had one of those enamel washing basins that was on the ground. I got hold of red enamel paint & we kept running in & out of the paint. She said it was a bitch to get off especially on the face.
    Now I haven’t seen any photos and my mum lives a bit in fantasy world (dimentia) but it sounds like something I would do as I was a bugger of a kid.

  4. I only remember my mother hitting me twice and one of these occasions was when she finally got tired of telling me not to play on discarded tar drums. I don’t know how many of my clothes I ruined before her patience ran out. The tar was for the old tennis courts in Cumberland Street, Traralgon.

  5. Who said I was a naughty child? LOL Was there no one else who cut off all her little Brothers curls ? (Just playing hairdresser!) or went ‘scrumping’ Daring to go where (we knew we should NOT go?) Oh yes! There are many other stories. Would love to hear yours.

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