April 2020
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Grandma’s Bathroom

(Come with me now, as we visit my two grandmothers during the 1940s.  Close your eyes and walk with me as we prepare to take a bath on Saturday night so we could go to Church on Sunday.)

Neither Grandma had a bathroom, and Grandma Boulden’s water supply was a nice artesian well in the back yard. So preparing for a bath meant going outside to the well, filling several metal buckets, and bringing them inside so they could be heated on the kitchen stove.  Grandma Richards had a wood-burning stove that heated rapidly.  After the buckets and pans of water were hot, we would bring in the round Number 3 washtub and place it on the kitchen floor, then fill it with water heated in those pans.  Then we kids would bathe there in the kitchen.  First kid got clean water, second, almost clean, and so forth.  You always hoped not to be the 7th or 8th in the same bath water.

Both houses had an outhouse, a privy, for performing other functions that today are handled in the bathroom.  I didn’t much care for that outhouse, because it was home to bees and the occasional spider.  Hard to keep your mind on business when you’ve worried about sticking your hand in a spider web.

My Grandpa Richards installed a bathroom in their house about 1948.  And while it made bathroom use convenient for Grandma, he was very squeamish about using it.  So he asked Grandma to stand outside the new bathroom and see if she could hear him attending to business inside.  Alas, she could.  And when she told him, “I heard you, Bill” he never used the inside john again, choosing to go outside to the outhouse for the rest of his life.

Grandma Boulden had no bathroom or indoor running water when we left Utah to move to Arizona in 1953.  But both were installed by 1960 when I came to board with her while I attended the U of Utah.

Larry Boulden, February 2011

Future titles:  Grandpa’s Bedroom, Dining with Grandma

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