While I was not born in the dark ages, Gramma’s house was—no electricity, and no running water, except to the kitchen basin. That’s the short list. Think arctic cold rooms in the winter, suffocating in the summer. Daily delivery of big blocks of ice to keep things cold, wood burning stove to keep things hot. Saturday night baths in a large galvanized tub, everyone using the same water, Children last. I was children.
And outhouses and chamber pots.
Pure luxury for the recent pioneer, they were pure adversity for those of us who knew better—a real bummer (For my pun-loving grandchildren and their father.)
A little rectangular structure with a door made of cheap wood was relegated to a back corner of the lot as far from civilization as possible. Dim light streamed through knotholes revealing a low bench with a large round outlet upon which one sat descending to not far enough. An old Sears catalog served as toilet paper. The stench was palpable, hardly more bearable than one’s need of it.
And no breathing.
Unless you were a mischievous male, who used the open window, nocturnal needs were taken care of with chamber pots resembling large porcelain coffee cups. Everything done at night was done in impenetrable blackness, thus, the rules.
1. Don’t step in the pot.
2. Keep pot under bed.
3. Make sure you know which side.
4. Don’t push pot too far under bed.
5. After using, return pot to its exact place.
6. Empty pot every morning first thing.
Breakfast at Gramma’s house more than made up for the misery.