Remembering the Bath
Today beautiful homes with full bathrooms dot the mountains of the Appalachians. Elegant homes which may have four or more bathrooms with porcelain tubs, glass shower stalls and double sink counters. Even modest homes with average bathrooms come complete with shower and tub combos, commodes and a linen closet. However, less than fifty years ago, that was not the case. Many homes did not even have indoor plumbing, much less a bathroom.
Perhaps like some of you, when I was younger, a kitchen sink was the only source of running water for our four room house. That home consisted of a kitchen, a living area, a small bedroom and a large storage room that once was a store for the small community we lived in. The kitchen had a wood stove, a table and a sink. The living area had a couch, a chair and an oil heater. The bedroom barely had space for a full bed and a cubby hole for a crib. But the bathroom as I knew it was outside. An outhouse. It was only a one seater and didn’t have a halfmoon on it.
Since there was no running water in the outhouse, we took our baths in the house. Sometimes our mother would line my two sisters and I up for a “spit bath”.
That meant she had a pan of soapy water on the oil heater and would scrub us down one at a time until we were clean and fresh to put on our night clothes. If she was in a hurry, she would say “ We are going to wash 'your face, hands and feet and give possible a sworp”. But as we got older and wealthier my dad brought home an oblong galvanized tub.
Our galvanized tub was delightful! Mom would heat large pots of water on the wood stove in the kitchen. We would drag in the tub from an outdoor landing and place it near the warm kitchen. She would mix the hot water with the cold water and create a roomy, splashy bath. It was a way of life and I had no idea of anything better at that time.
I keep this picture, which is not of anyone I know, in my bathroom to remind me of those memories. It also reminds me regularly of amazing comforts I have today with two bathrooms, indoor commodes, tubs and showers and indoor plumbing with hot water.