Wednesday, October 13, 2021

palmetto bugs / as large as mice and quicker still

larger view
Above Roy R. Behrens, Swan Lake. Digital montage (©2021).

In reading the following passage from the autobiography of American artist Abel Warshawsky, I was reminded of those times in my life when I have lived in parts of the country (Hawaii and the Deep South) where apartments were inhabited by huge cockroaches, as large as mice and quicker still. 

I once climbed into the shower to find one on the curtain, and, on another occasion, I was typing in the living room on a Sunday morning when something fell from the ceiling and landed on my head—I knew immediately what it was. In the South, these are politely referred to as “pametto bugs,” but when we moved to Cincinnati, we had to pay admission to see the “live insect exhibit” at the zoo, to learn that in the North they're called the “American cockroach.” Not one of my favorite things to recall.


Abel Warshawsky, The memories of an American Impressionist. Kent OH: Kent State University Press, 1980, p. 34— 

[In a Paris studio] Once accustomed to the creaking wire mattress, I slept more soundly there than I have since in many a luxurious bed—this, despite the nightly incursions of roaches, which infested our building. My horror of these beasts was insurmountable. One Sunday morning, while lying on the counch, I was discussing with my companions ways and means for ridding ourselves of this pest. Glancing up at the ceiling, I saw three of the loathsome vampires. With a cry of horror I seized my shoes and started bombarding the enemy. Roars of laughter broke from my companions, The roaches had been painted on the ceiling, while I slept, for my special benefit!