Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Thursday, September 3, 2020

Not Quite 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.

8 comments:

  1. That would destroy the mood, no doubt! Its amazing how our parents and grandparents lived.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a tale. It is amazing how delicate we've all become in so few years. Bath time was once a week in my childhood too. But with running water - sis and I (and sometimes a visitor) normally went in the tub together, mum and dad had fresh water ;) It was a big tub.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Many, many years ago, we were invited to the home of one of my husband's Air Force friends. They lived in rural Missouri, and - yes, they did not have running water. Call it poverty or whatnot. I guess we were such honored guests that they drew a bath for the two of us. In fresh water. I've seen the process you describe (without the nine children, as everyone was grown). It was Christmastime, I will add. I bet your Mom enjoyed every bath she took in modern plumbing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I remember shared bathwater. The order varied for us - a concession so that at least occasionally we would get 'clean' water.
    I don't remember any phantom piddlers though. And if there were any they didn't admit to it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Mercy, it's like reading about Laura Ingalls Wilder and her bath stories. They, though, would change the water between.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I remember taking turns in a big zinc tub, but there were only three of us and when we got an actual bathroom complete with bathtub, mum would half fill it and put us all in together.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Enjoyed baths? I'm surprised she ever took one again.

    ReplyDelete
  8. if there were any they didn't admit to it.

    HONGBO
    W88 Club

    ReplyDelete

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