By Norris Chambers


            Sometimes politicians talk too much and either say too little or expand on the wrong things. When this occurs this little poetic word of advice can be appropriately applied:      

                                       His mumbled words leave no doubt,

                                       We should seal his lips with good grade grout!

           Some of our younger readers might not know about grout and the many things it can be used for. Grout is used to seal the joints between tile on floors, counter tops and other places where a nice white joint is desired. There are other colors of grout but white is the most common.

            Mentioning grout reminds me of an experience with the material several years ago. Ella and I were helping our daughter and son-in-law convert a very large and old house they had bought into three apartments. You can easily imagine how much work was involved in this change. Installing three kitchens and bathrooms required hours of effort in installing plumbing. The big house had settled and left very little room underneath for work. We dug necessary ditches under the kitchen areas and called them freeways. They enabled us to have a little more room to move about and could serve as ditches to bury hot water lines when complete.

            We completed the sink plumbing in one of the kitchens and the ladies finished installing tile on the floor about the same time. Our grand daughter and a boy-friend arrived and started spreading grout across all the seams. While we were busy in another part of the house they smoothed the grout and washed all the excess down the new sink drain. The floor looked nice and the sink had been well cleaned after they finished washing their equipment.

            Everyone was happy until the next morning when someone discovered that the new sink drain would not drain.  Running a drain cleaner and a few solvents down the pipe didn’t allow any water to escape. About three or four feet from the sink the line was blocked and cleaning devices failed to loosen the obstruction. We didn’t know that the waste grout had been dumped into the new plumbing but when we had to remove several feet of pipe and replace it we knew. The pipe was full of hardened grout. Cement would not have been any harder. We spent a few hours replacing what the grout had ruined! If there is a lesson to be learned from this experience it is to not allow grout in the plumbing!

            As farm boys Clifton and I were not aware of grout. We were familiar with plaster of paris. This was a white powder that resembled flour. When mixed with water and allowed to dry it formed a white, hard mass that was as hard as cement but had a much nicer finish. Some of the country artists used it to form statues, animals and other works of art. There was a monument in one of the country cemeteries that had been made from plaster of paris. It made a nice looking grave marker. Some of the country sages said that it would not last and predicted the color would fade and the plaster might break off.

            I saw another use for the powder when I was quite young. We had an old rooster that seemed to always be where he wasn’t wanted. He did not like kids and Clifton and I tried to stay out of his area. One day he wandered into the horse lot and one of the horses stepped on him. We never knew if it was accidental or well planned. Regardless of the motive, the old fellow received a broken leg. The bony part between the knee and the foot was badly broken and was being dragged around by the skin and ligaments. When we saw what had happened we almost pitied him!

            My dad looked the wound over and with our cautious assistance caught him and after tying him down with binder twine began to operate. He washed the broken area with an antiseptic, pushed he bone ends together and wrapped the leg with a thin bandage. A generous coating of plaster of paris was applied around the bandage.

            The rooster survived and eventually the bone grew back together. His recovery enabled him to chase us again and we continued to keep out of his area.

            Was there any fun derived from these unorthodox uses of plaster of paris? Clifton said it would be funny to replace the contents of a flour bin with the plaster. I agreed – but we were too nice to do thing like that!