Friday, August 27, 2010

Evening Showers

Our shower is not working. And in the general scheme of things we're near the bottom of the list for the maintenance department for our apartment complex.

When I was a kid, we didn't have showers. We had a tub. Almost everywhere we lived, we had a big ol' iron clawed bathtub. And baths were...a twice weekly job.

On Wednesday night you took a bath whether you needed it or not. And on Saturday, the entire family took turns having their hair washed in the kitchen sink and then you had your Saturday night bath.

As I reached the age that such things became important, legs and armpits were shaved once a week. And that was pretty much it for the grooming portion of life. I don't think I owned deodorant until I was in my mid-teens. Certainly, it wasn't a big deal back then.

I think it must have been because commercials for personal products were few, far between, and very different. We didn't have television. I lived out in the "outback" of Arizona. Television coverage was sparse. And we didn't have one anyway. Actually, I had my first television when I married. And back then, the commercials were mostly about cigarettes and TV dinners--which just goes to show you that commercials aren't necessarily in your best interest, anyway.

Anyway, since the shower is broken everyone who was dead set on getting clean took a bath. The bathtubs now are tiny. Short. And difficult to get out of. And for some strange reason, it takes longer to take a bath. There was some discussion about the inconvenience.

And of course, I told them about the joys of bathing while camping out. First of all, back then there were no bathhouses or even pit toilets. Somewhere in the piles of old pictures I have, there's a picture of me sitting in a galvanized washtub, having my Saturday evening bath. I can see that picture in my mind's eye with vivid clarity. Actually, I can remember that bath. That camping area had log "lean-to"s that most people used as their temporary kitchen when they camped. The washtub was sitting inside the lean-to. And an old gray army blanket was hung on the open side to block some of the evening breeze. Just beyond the lean-to's open side, my father was sitting by the crackling fire, singing.

I think I was five.

I'm kind of glad we didn't have bathhouses back then. Otherwise, I wouldn't have that memory of my mother bathing me in the washtub. Convenience isn't everything.



  1. Ah, but modern plumbing is something I'm truly grateful for!

  2. When I was a kid we used to go camping and my step mom would have me and my sister stand in a big washtub and pour warm water over us. My dad would hang a blanket up to shield us and we washed as fast as we could because it was freaking cold!

  3. I really hope that you do something with these memories, Anny. If nothing else, write them down for your kids and your grandkids. I love reading stories about peoples' lives. The truth, for me, is more interesting than fiction. Some people keep an emotional distance from the things that they have experienced and that kills the writing. You don't. I can see the scenes in my head. You share your emotions.Your human-ness is palpable.

  4. My father - now 76 - tells of a time when they used to - all 13 kids - in turn would wash in a copper tub over a fire and how it used to be so hot underfoot that they used to dance around on their once a week wash. They lived in a - well, no other word but 'slum' area of Sydney and there was no money to pay for hot water. We're extremely lucky in 2010.

  5. We'll have a moment of silence for the shower...
    My parents had the claw tub too.
    My grandparents didn't have indoor plumbing when I was little. The bathes were in the 'round' tub.