Thursday, January 8, 2015

Hot Water

When my grandmother was young and my father was a baby, it was 1929. Their home had an outhouse for that kind of stuff, but bathing was done in the kitchen in a metal tub. My grandmother would warm the room with the wood stove and heat water for the bath which was set in the middle of the floor.
When the room and the water was warm enough, my mother washed the baby on her hands and knees in the tub. She would dry him off, dress him warmly and put him aside in a playpen while she bathed my grandfather in the same water, but now a bit warmer from the second batch of heated water.
When they were warm and dry and clean, she would then bathe herself in the same water, same tub. Then after dressing herself, she would scoop out the water and dump it into the sink which drained out into the yard. She was fortunate to have a water pump from the well inside the house at the kitchen and a sink with a drain so that she didn't have to haul the water from the back yard.
When the bathing was done, the tub was empty, she would go outside and put the tub on the porch. Sometimes when she went out it was snowy or freezing cold. She would hurry back into the warm kitchen and make some coffee.
One day, my grandfather decided to buy another house to use as a rental. It had a big kitchen area and porches that surrounded the house. It had two bedrooms and large dining room and living room, and most of all a small bathroom between the bedrooms. It also had an outhouse for that sort of thing, but the BATHROOM was for bathing and it had a tub with a drain and a pump for water. And a wood heater for heating the water buckets. That heater now lives in my garage as a reminder of days past.
My grandmother decided that she wanted that house and the small one they lived in could be the rental. She moved into the new house while my grandfather was at work. And they stayed married anyway. That was a very defiant moment for my grandmother. But she got a bathtub and a bathroom. In time, they built more house onto the porches and the space inside the home became more comfortable.
This week, we are reliving the days past, with a slight twist.
We had our house tented for termites and it is necessary to turn off the gas to the house and the water heater. After tenting, you have to have the gas company restart the gas and light the water heater and any other pilot lights. Pilot lights are a through back to the 1900's up to some present day appliances. It is a constantly lit flame to ignite the burner when the gas comes on. All of my other appliances have automatic electric ignitions.
After the tenting, when it is time to start the gas again, it may take several days to get the gas guy out to the house. What do you do when there is no hot water? No bathing. No laundry. No dishes. No cooking. No baking- unless you have an all electric house. So we got out the hot plates and the little gas burners and the side burner on the barbeque. We heated water by all available means. I ran some cold water into the tub and turned on the small electric room heater. Then as the hot water became available, I emptied it into the cold water in the tub until it was warm enough for my Prince charming to bathe.  This took about an hour.  And, no, I didn't bathe after him in the same tub with the same water.
But I was very happy to just be able to pull the plug and drain the tub- no scooping.
I loved my grandmother. Times were much different and it was hard just to have a daily routine. Cooking, cleaning, repairing things, making clothing, bathing, keeping warm and dry. Life was challenging and lots of work. I am blessed with clean, running water to my home and sewage that goes away to be processed. I am blessed with dishwashers and clothes washers and dryers. And a Water Heater, even if it is still waiting for the gas guy to start it up.
I am spoiled beyond belief and grateful for all of it.


Lane Pemberton said...

Hot Water is a nice reminder of the appreciation we should have for modern conveniences, such as running water. To think we can simply go to our kitchen sink and gently push a nozzle or twist the bathtub's handle and fresh, clean water comes out that can be manipulated for the perfect temperature. Taking a moment today to reflect on this.

Lane Pemberton @ Metcalfe Heating & Air Conditioning

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Ambrose said...

This is amazing. While 1929 seems as if it is centuries ago, it's really less than a hundred years ago. Life was very simple. While we may look at it and wonder in amazement, this was just every day living for your grandparents. I wonder what they think of our current world when people look back on us in a hundred years?

Ambrose @ Brown & Reaves Services, Inc.