Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Thursday, April 3, 2014

Not Necessarily Clean


Okay, there are only six here. But you get the picture . . .
Mom is third from the left.
Bath time has changed over the past century.
Really.
The concept of indoor plumbing is actually very recent.
In my mother's day, running water in the house meant that some enterprising and resourceful person had built the house over the well.
And designed the kitchen so that the sink was situated perfectly to accommodate the pump.
Right where the water was needed.
Clear and cold.
Directly from the ground.
Heating it to a decent temperature for such things as cooking and cleaning was a whole other process.
So . . . bath time.
I should mention, here, that I wasn't present for any of this.
I'm telling it as my mom told me.
Every Saturday night, Gramma Berg would pull out the large tub and set it in the middle of the kitchen floor.
Then painstakingly fill it bucket by bucket.
She had nine children, eight boys and my mom, to scrub.
And one tub to do it in.
The youngest went in first.
Then the second youngest.
Third.
Fourth.
All went well to this point.
Though the water was getting a bit . . . soapy.
But that is where her system inevitably broke down.
The fifth youngest son always exhibited the same reaction to stepping into warm water.
He peed.
In the water.
Every time.
And my Mom, who stood next in line would get a little . . . perturbed.
Gramma always tried to soothe her only daughter by pointing out that the water was mostly clean and soapy. And that Mom would get a good rinse with clean water.
But Mom was only slightly mollified (real word.)
I often wondered why, in my time, my mother so enjoyed her baths.
I didn't have to go back very far to find out.

22 comments:

  1. That made me smile. Why didn't your didn't grandma have the fifth youngest son turn away when he stepped into the water so he could pee somewhere other than the water? Like a container. I'd be more than miffed. How clean is it to wash in urine? Ew lol

    ReplyDelete
  2. For my first nine years we used a galvanized tub on papers in Mom and Dads bedroom....clean water for all though...we had a water heater but no indoor bathroom. What luxury when the brand new bathroom was installed. Pee water? No thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's not enough soap in the world . . .

      Delete
  3. Hmmm ... I think I would have changed the bath order!

    We carried our water for three or four years after moving into a house where the water was "rusty" (full of iron, I think) and before having spring water piped in instead. It was hard on my mother more than anyone, although we all pitched in to carry, even my skinny eight-year-old self. Water for cooking, for washing clothes in the wringer washer, water for bathing & washing hair - yep, all carried in a big pot from the spring to our house. Running water is a luxury we don't appreciate as much as we should!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe something we all should experience at least once!

      Delete
  4. Oh, the memories. Winter always meant that the pipes froze up and the drains as well. Wash tubs in the kitchen next to the coal burning heat stove. Mom heating water on the cook range. The cleanest person got to go first and my youngest brother last--he was always the dirtiest and would most certainly pee in the water.
    Thanks for the memories.

    ReplyDelete
  5. LOL! That sure brings back memories. We too had the same ritual for bath time growing up. 8 kids. On a farm with a very teeny tiny water well. Thankfully the brothers had to go LAST. Us girls got the water first. And thankfully I was first born!
    When we got older and in teen years, we were allowed our own baths. Although, only every three days or so, as we took turns. In the meantime...we only could sponge bath. { I still hate that term even to this day.} When it came to my sisters and I with all that long hair to keep looking nice {this was high school after all!!} we would take turns washing hair in basin of water every morning....starting at 5:00 am {it took that long}. It would go like this : One girl washed her hair and then rinsed keeping rinse water in basin....then next girl would take that soapy rinse water and wash her hair with it....then rinse with fresh.....leaving that water for the next. And so on. Boy was I glad when my dad finally was able to get us a larger and newer Well!!! Alas it was just a few months before I left home. lol. Murphy's law.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh. My. Goodness. The organization! Murphy's law, indeed! :)

      Delete
  6. I remember bathing my kids like this for about a year. My husband had built an outside shower which worked great for us, unless you had unexpected company! But they were just toddlers.I love thinking of those times. Great story as always!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't it true that some experiences are so much fun . . . years later?!

      Delete
  7. I grew up in those days living in the middle of the bush, closest neighbor 5 miles away. Luckily there was only two of us me and my older sister and we bathed in a wash tub. No electricity, coalman lantern wood stove and had to carry the water from the lake which fortunately was only a few yards away from the back of the house.

    Intereting story, thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And I bet you got a workout hauling in and hauling out! Wonderful memories!

      Delete
    2. Yes they were. My dad worked up north in the lumber camps so my mom sister and I all did the chores together the wood the water but it was kind of fun because our mom made fun doing chores. :o) Closest we got to a ranch was raising chickens for eggs.

      My sister and I sometime use to go down to the coop and gather the chicks and sleep in bed with, so I guess they were like pets. Had lots of wildlife pets in the sense that they came to us from the wilderness.

      Lots of wonderful memories

      Have a great day

      Delete
    3. That does sound wonderful. Your Mom sounds amazing! I've always wanted to play with a baby chick. Chickens, on the other hand... well, that is a DIFFERENT story! :)

      Delete
  8. I remember my own Saturday night bath times. In a large galvanised zinc tub, in front of the open fireplace for warmth in the winter, in the kitchen. And this was as late as the mid fifties. We three kids shared that same tub of water and weren't allowed to stay and play in it in case it got too cool for the next bather. Then dad closed in a section of the back porch and built a bathroom. But we still had to share the same tub of water, only this time it was all in at once, get washed and get out. It was strictly functional, no playing and the water was never deep enough in my opinion. But we had a chip heater by then, so there was no more carrying of full buckets.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Replies
    1. I so love running water! Mostly because of hearing this story!

      Delete
  10. Stories like this remind me that I was certainly born into the right era for me!

    ReplyDelete

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