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Stationary tubs and running water six feet long by two and a half wide. were virtually unknown in Brierly at He made it beautifully smooth inside, that time, and our experiments with and calked the seams so that it could substitutes were varied and interesting. not leak. A drain was constructed leadI remember a tin tub, painted blue ing into a gravel bank under the porch. outside and white inside, with a back The tub had a cover which matched to lean against like a sleepy-hollow the floor and which, when let down, armchair, and little round soap-dishes transformed our bathroom to sun paron each side of the rim. We children lor. We were jubilant over this invensat Turk-fashion in it, and could lean tion when it was finished; but long beback comfortably between scrubs. It fore the carpenter's bill was paid on the must have been in one of these inter- installment plan, our illusions were disvals of rest that Caroline, burning with pelled. The drain refused to work as it injury over some family disagreement, should, and for a discouraging length scratched the following sentence on the of time after each bath the tub would inside of the rim, with a pin: "Edward stand half full of water. After the cover is an ugly, naughty boy. Hi yi, ki yi!” had been left up once or twice, and Edward's bath came after Caroline's, several of the family had walked into and this judgment confronted him it in the dark, we gradually gave up weekly, as long as the tin tub endured. using it.
The rubber tub was bought when We had one small room called the Tryphena had inflammatory rheuma- Bathing Room, but no one ever bathed tism, and was a great luxury in those in it within my memory. The old black days. It was made of pliant rubber, walnut washstand used to be kept and hung from a wooden frame which there, which perhaps gave rise to its rested on two chairs. In repose it was name. Ląter, as the family grew and about the size and shape of an ordi- closets became congested, hooks were nary porcelain tub, but it "gave” so installed all around the Bathing Room, unexpectedly when occupied, and was and we hung our Sunday clothes on so very slippery, that getting in was them. Still later, the baby's crib stood a science, staying in an adventure, and there — but the name remained. This, getting out an art.
and another room called the China The courthouse burned down just Closet, where no china ever was, togeabout the time that mother read The ther with the Library, where mother Last Days of Pompeii, and I think a kept her canned fruit, were a source vision of Roman tepidaria must have of never-failing glee to visitors. lingered in her mind when she built the
In summer we sometimes bathed upLittle Room. Father sent home two stairs, but we objected to this in our tall glass doors from the courthouse youth because the water had to be fire - all that was left of the building. carried up and down. It is true that Presumably they were given to him Sherman and John conceived the labecause he was the judge. Mother bor-saving idea of pouring it out on the conceived the idea of walling in the lit- wood-shed roof, but they did it only tle porch just off the kitchen and using once. Mother happened to be giving these glass doors as part of the east an order to the grocery boy at the mowall. This was how the Little Porch ment, and he came out of the back door became the Little Room. In the floor just in time to get the soapy flood of this room mother instructed the sur- squarely down his back. prised carpenter to build a tub, about As we grew older, we developed an
etiquette of bathing. A small clique, chairs, draped them with sheets, blankled by Frances, insisted that it was only ets, and father's army blanket, to indecent to save half the water to rinse sure privacy, and successively peroff in. Some of the rest of us warmly formed the Saturday rite, while the argued this point. We held that it was rest of the family waited their turn. impossible to take a real bath in half a Of course the old order changed reservoir of water, and that the results in time. Galvanized tubs succeeded obtained by rinsing did n't compensate wooden ones, and finally a windmill for the extra labor involved. Person- and a tank on top of the house brought ally, I went through life unrinsed until running water. When father gave up we moved to the city. Arthur was the a country judgeship for a law office in one to found a cult of outdoor bath- town, and we moved to the city, bathing. In an angle formed by the walls ing became an everyday affair. of the dining-room and the library he I would not say a word in deprecaconstructed an impromptu room of tion of modern plumbing. Beyond a sheets strung on clothes-lines, with the doubt it is one of our greatest blessings russet apple tree for one corner. “No and the herald of a true democracy, roof but the blue above us. No floor when there shall be neither a "great but the beaten sod." The idea took unwashed" nor a "submerged tenth." like wildfire. Bathing out of doors, But, somehow, Saturday has lost its with the apple blossoms and blue sky savor. Life is tamer than it used to be. over our heads, took on a tinge of ro- No man in his senses would wish, in mance that was not to be resisted. But this day of Pullman sleepers, to cross of course it was limited to the very the Great Plains in a prairie schooner, warmest days in summer.
but the names of the men who risked When all was said and done, the their lives to do it are enshrined in histhing we always came back to, like re- tory. And so I think we ought to build turning to the old-fashioned safety-pin a little altar to the middle-class counafter all these new-fangled contrivances try mothers who, in the face of every to keep your skirt in place, was a obstacle, kept the Saturday-night bath wooden wash-tub by the kitchen stove. a sacred institution, and handed it There we arranged clothes-bars and down to their children in violate.
newspaper; but it is of a quality that makes it live ever after in the memory of the reader.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ATLANTIC
The experience of your anonymous contributor, as told in the May Atlantic, is singular but not unique. From a scrapbook of the war-days of 1861, I extract the subjoined stanza of a poem in which the writer tells how he approached the Infinite. No name is given; it was but the vagrant verse from the poets' corner of a country
Only sometimes we lie,
And shadowy dreams divine,
Our troubled hearts invest,
And for one moment we
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