Thursday, October 23, 2008
ANOTHER HOMESPUN MEMORY
Long ago and far away, when I was a child in middle Illinois where the cornfields stretched to forever, the ritual that is bathing was quite different from that of today. Every Saturday night, my mother poured a few buckets of rain water from the cistern into our galvanized tin bathtub, added a teakettle full or two of boiling water to warm it up, put out a bar of homemade soap, and a bath towel made of feed sacks. I was first, my brother was second, then Mother, and lucky Dad was last. It was a ritual repeated in every farmhouse in our part of the world. In winter, our bathing area was set up beside the wood burning cook stove in the kitchen so as to stay toasty warm for our ablution. In summer, the tub sat in the “wash house“. The “wash house” was a small separate building just next to the house, where Mother did the laundry in her wringer washer. From Saturday to Saturday we washed daily in the washpan in the sink in the kitchen, where Mother cautioned us to “wash down to it, up to it, and then wash ‘toit.” In some of our model homes today, which I call temples of excess, the bathroom is called the “spa”. The Jacuzzis are nearly as large as Mother’s kitchen, the showers are multi-level with adjustable water jets. I love to see these luxurious bathrooms, and I think to myself “I’ll bet they still wash down to it, up to it, and toit”!