Bath time in the washtub
Not so long ago, conserving water was a necessity. When you don’t have it on-tap, you realize water is a precious and you don’t want to waste a drop.
Without the modern convenience of running water at home until much later in life, the Dickies From Gunton: Canadian Brothers in Two World Wars thought about washing up and bathing much differently than we do today.
When Percy and Earl were young, water came from the well. It was good for drinking and cooking, but a bit hard for washing and bathing. So, the family would also collect water in rain barrels in summer and by melting snow on the stove in the winter.
When Percy bought his family home, water was available from a tap down the street. The neighbourhood called it their pumping station. Families would haul it home from there for all home uses.
When it was time to wash up in the morning, they would make sure there was some water in the pitcher, then pour a little into the washbowl, and wash up. A bar of soap and a washcloth helped them to do the job, washing their face, hands, neck, and other places that needed freshening up.
Often family members would share the water. That was much quicker and easier than changing it.
And then, once a week, often on Saturday night, it was bath night.
It was a big deal to get out the tub, haul the water, warm it on the stove, fill the tub, and then get in and get clean. One after the other, family members would bathe. It was easier to add to the water than to change it, so often they would share the water, topping it up for the next bather.
And then, finally someone would have to take out the dirty bathwater. In the summer months, they might use it to water the garden. In the winter, they had to take care not to dump it too close to the house where it would ice up and create a slippery situation.
During the summer months, when they could swim in the river or in the lake at the beach, they may have skipped a bath or two. After all, they had been in the water so of course they were clean and refreshed.
Imagine how exciting it was to finally have running water in the home. There was no longer any need to haul water to wash dishes, wash up, or fill the tub for a bath. Bathing had its own room, and a permanent tub that drained on its own. How amazing.