a tale of tails, tenacity, and tedium, as told by me, usually barefoot and bellowing

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Old Wash Tub

had many purposes in my lifetime.  The first memory I have is as a bath tub.  We had no running water so water was drawn from a cistern and heated on the stove for our baths.  We shared the bath, separately, of course, but the water washed us all, from the cleanest down to the dirtiest. Mom always had a warm kettle of water to rinse our hair as we sat in the tub.

When the baths were finished and the water cooled, the water was used for another purpose, in summer it was used to water plants and in winter used to clean things outside before it was returned to the ground.

The tub was also used for laundry, holding fish until they could be cleaned, washing fruit jars and even processing meat...we all survived and were very healthy despite all the health rules that were broken.  Mom was a cleaner and after each use it was bleached and cleaned so there was no danger in the multi-use of this container.
I remember one summer we got a long tub.  Talk about excitement!  A tub to bathe in where you didn't have to fold up.  You could stretch out.

Since we had a four line clothes line (laundry was done once a week in a wringer washer and tubs again), my sisters and I came up with an idea.  We pinned blue jean quilts to the clothes lines to form a room.  The long bath tub was placed inside this room.  Oh, the joy of hauling that water and filling the tub was wonderful,  then we waited for the sun to warm the water.

We took turns on who was the first to bathe and it was a joyful event when it was your time to be first.  The sun warmed clear water in this long tub was a delight to experience.  A private bath was certainly a rarity and we loved the summer months when we could do this.

The ease of our baths now is taken for granted and I am sure there is never the joy we experienced in that long tub, hidden under the clothes line.


Nora said...

We were washed in an oval tub until we got a shower. We lived in a very old house and the bathroom had to be added on to the kitchen. I liked the tub better than the shower as a kid.

EmptyNester said...

Hubs can relate to this post--his grandmother (who lived to 103)didn't get indoor plumbing until the 1980s!

Rudee said...

What a lovely story, Gail! I usually only take showers now and I don't know why.

Grammy said...

I know I have experienced this too. We had a real bathroom in st Louis. But at my grandmas in WV. I remember the water heated on a coal stove and a tub brought out into the kitchen to bathe. My only memory is at age 7 maybe on a visit. but I was raised there till age 4 so I know I had to of lived like that too.

the canned quilter said...

Wash tubs are still one of the handiest things on the farm! I wash vegetables, dogs and even grandkids after they have gotten too muddy to bathe indoors. I agree we all take those instant indoor hot showers for granted : )

Dreaming said...

A nice look at a more relaxed time in life. We do take so much for granted.

Leontien said...

i am to young (i think) so i never had to sit in a tub like that(outside or inside) before. I do remember we had a couple of those tubs as drinkers for our horses and goats in the Netherlands...

thanks for sharing

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I agree. I wonder if that's whay hot tubs are so popular? People sub consciously long to bathe outdoors in a round tub? I know I do! :)

I had to giggle when you wrote: "A tub to bathe in where you didn't have to fold up."

I used to spend childhood summers with my Grandparents in Illinois and they lived a more 'rustic' life than my own family in the suburbs of Maryland.
I fondly remember having my baths in one of those longer tubs...and it was so much fun!
And I didn't even mind having to use an outhouse either.
But my stepmother, who treasured everything modern and new, would raise an eyebrow or two when she'd find out. lol!


Rural Rambler said...

You know I don't remember ever having a real wash tub bath. I do however remember jumping in the farm pond to cool off! And I took a couple of dunks in my GrandDad's cattle tanks. My Mom, a city girl, nearly needed to be resuscitated when she saw me. All my cousins did it.......

Love your wash tub memories this morning Gail!

Barbara said...

I do love them wash tubs, I have two now, I never bathed in one, but remember playing in one when young at my grandma's in the hot summer. Love them and keep them for all reasons, hugs Barbara

Sue said...

It's so interesting to hear about your life, now and then. Most of it is completely foreign to my experience, which is part of the fascination, I'm sure.

Thanks for sharing!


mj said...

Yes, a hot bath or shower, one of the many rituals that we totally take for granted. I have photos of the laundry tub that my dad fell in as a toddler. He was badly burned and carried the scars on his arm for the rest of his life.
One other side note. I lived on a sailboat for a year+. Our potable drinking water was so precious that we would collect rainwater in our dingy, and take a cold, freshwater, but much needed and appreciated bath! Real luxury was the occasional solar heated sun shower.
Yes, water and how we get it is so taken for granted!!!

LindaG said...

There's a lot of health rules that I think are responsible for a lot of the health problems we have now.

My grandmother had a wringer washer. I remember helping her with the wringer into one of the big metal sinks she had downstairs. :)

Happy Saturday! :)

Queen-Size funny bone said...

when I was a kid my dad brought home a big horses water trough and filled it with water and we would take turns in the summer dunking in it. It was long and deep enough for us to cool off.

ellen abbott said...

I think people were probably healthier back then. they had much stronger immune systems then we do today with all out anti-bacterial stuff everywhere and our adulterated food supply. (and when I say healthier I'm not talking about the heinous diseases that killed then and still do today.)

this reminds me of when we would go wilderness canoe camping. we would take a 'sun shower', a bag of water that got warmed by the sun during the day and hung up at camp for a shower.

Country Gal said...

Interesting. We had a full bathroom in doors with a tub and shower when I was growing up even before my time on the farm . what year were you born if you dont mind me asking your not that old. We used those tubs to wash our pets in thats about all. How ever my mum did have a ringer dryer and wash mashine in one. Have a great day!


I'm one of those galvanized tub bathers as a kid, it's all we had.
By the age of 5, we had a nice bathroom. But when I visited my brothers farm, it was back to the galvaized tub. I can't remember feeling deprived having to use that sort of tub in the kitchen of the old farm house. BOY NOT ALLOWED inside when the girls bathed. And we didn't care much about seeing them while they bathed.
Thanks for the memory.
Blessings. B

A Melbourne Girl said...

Great story Gail. I remember always having indoor plumbing as we livd pretty close to the city, walking distance in fact. But I remember having an ice box rather than a fridge and we had a big old galvanised bath and we also had a copper where Mum would wash all the clothes. She eventually got a washing machine that had a wringer on the top and she'd pass the clothing through it to extract the water. They really were much simpler times weren't they?

Picket said...

I remember many a bath in the old round tub at my grandmother's...she had feather beds and the whitest sheets I've ever seen..she carried clothes up to the creek and boiled water in these huge black pots by the creek where we would wash everything and then carry them back to the house and hang them on the clothes lines...ohhhh what great memories I have of my childhood...thanks so much for coming by sweetie....hope you have a great weekend...Picket

Cinlyn said...

Oh wow! Takes me back! The oblong galvanized tub, the outhouse, the wringer washer & clothesline, bringing water in from a well. This after living in other houses with indoor plumbing...but my folks bought an old farmhouse that didn't have any so we had to make do until it was installed. While we thought we were being deprived, it gave us a whole new appreciation for these things.

Nezzy said...

Oh honey, I started out in the round tub too and thought we were right uptown when we got the oval one. It was 196o when we finally had 'indoor' plumin' on the farm.

Thanks for the memories!

God bless!

Sharon L Straughan said...

When I was growing up Gail, ours was used for many of the same purposes, the bath, the laundry and once in a while I have to admit, for the family dog.

Nowadays, we still have one in our custody, used outside for the most part for outdoor cleaning work and yep, still for the family dog ; )

This is why I love your blog, we have so many memories that are like lives running parallel to one another. We understand each other in a sense that many people these days just don't get.

You yourself, are the joy I experience when I do my daily reading because your writing is real, honest, raw and very often you tug at my heart strings.

Keep writing, keep sharing the world through the view of your camera because each time you do, you're giving us another gift.