Thursday, October 21, 2010
Growing Up - Winter Baths
When water was hauled from wells or springs or heated in hot water tanks attached to Findlay kitchen stoves and very few bathrooms were equipped with showers bathing daily was not always possible……just daily washing up in the bathroom basin was freezing cold. But it woke you quite nicely for the day ahead.
Winter baths were quite a ritual in our home. We had a large metal laundry tub, hauled up from the basement on Saturday night for the weekly bath….whether you needed it or not. Our family bathed in reverse order from the old adage. “careful, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water” …. Meaning baby was bathed last. In our home the adage went “careful not to throw the eldest out with the bath water”.
The doorways to hallway and dining room were shut tight and children lined up in the dining room waiting their turn. The kitchen fire was built up, the oven door propped open for added warmth and towels laid on the door to warm; and when the kitchen reached sauna temperature the baths began. First the baby; toweled dry and handed to eldest for bed, then the next, then the next……there were seven children in our home. Hair was scrubbed and rinsed with a pot of water from hot water reservoir at end of stove. Each new bather managed a top-up of a pot of water from the reservoir to bring back some warmth to the water. I was the eldest and was constantly afraid of being tossed out with the bath water!
Mission accomplished … seven shiny faces in a row all scrubbed to a rosy red! Everyone assembled for their nightly cup of home made, hot cocoa; then were tucked away for the night.
Beds were made up with flannelette sheets, at least two pure wool blankets and quilts or spreads. And when the night was forecast to be particularly cold father would layer his ‘great coats’ on top. Coats from his younger days that went from neck to ground … and he was over six foot tall. Heavy wool coats. You couldn’t move for weight on top….but you were warm…and bathed!
Now all the steam from the ‘kitchen sauna’ had to be released from the home or the house would feel twice as cold overnight. The entrance doors were opened to allow the moisture to escape outside. It was fascinating to watch the cloud of steam emerge out the door into the winter night! Mother and dad cheated though….they bathed after shipping us all off to Sunday school….in the regular, claw footed bathtub in the bathroom. Didn’t find that out until years later.
Oh, p.s. This tub was also our summer swimming pool. It was placed on the back lawn, filled with water from the hose and we were swimming! All seven of us!
I have also posted on my art blog; remembrance of artistic skills learned and discarded:-pinnaclesandpotholes