THE SATURDAY NIGHT BATH 

      A Memory by Mildred Filbrun Heck  

Be grateful the next time you relax in a hot soothing bathtub or stand beneath an invigorating shower.  Having a bath was a once a week event - and almost always a Saturday night event - for some rural folks, like me, who grew up in the early 1900s.

Indoor plumbing was still years away, at least for farm homes like ours. Our bathtub was the big galvanized tub used on weekdays to soak laundry. After supper the tub was placed on the worn kitchen floor in front of the cook stove, just like in the photo on the right. 

The kitchen became the bathroom for the whole evening as every family member took a bath. Mom draped a sheet over the backs of several kitchen chairs pulled close to the tub.  This not only gave us a little privacy, but also kept the drafts off as we bathed.

The oven door was often opened to give us more heat. The tub was half filled with hot rainwater from the side tank of the big stove. Lux Flakes were dumped into the tub making thick bubbles that came to the surface as we jumped into our primitive version of a bubble bath.

The youngest child was always bathed first. When Phyllis, my younger sister, was very small she was given a bath in a small foot tub that Mom placed on the seat of a kitchen chair. Her bath water was added to the big tub on the floor. After my younger brother, Dale, was helped with his bath, more hot water and a few more Lux Flakes were added to the tub. Finally it was my turn, but there was no time to linger in my own bath.

Several buckets of bath water were then removed so that fresh, newly-heated hot water from the stove reservoir could be added with still more Lux Flakes.  My older brother, Bob, demanded privacy and took his time bathing.

 When he finished, Dad got his turn by either kneeling or standing in the tub.  After Dad put on his nightclothes he gathered up all his dirty overalls and put them to soak in the used, but still soapy, water for the night. The tub was pulled over near the summer kitchen door and those clothes were put into the hand-agitated washing machine the next morning. 

After we kids were sent to bed, Mom finally had the time to give herself a sponge bath from the foot tub, which she preferred.  Finally, she would sit quietly soaking her feet next to the cooling kitchen stove. 

There were times during every summer when Dad took us to the Miami River south of Taylorsville Dam to "swim". The water was shallow and muddy so we didn't do much swimming.  We never owned bathing suits so we wore some old clothes.  Dad took several bars of soap with us and we were instructed to wash ourselves "real good". The Saturday night bath would be skipped that week.   

 

 

The time of this little story was in the early 1920s.   The location was on our farm at the northeast corner of the Shull Road and the Old Troy Pike in Wayne Township (now Huber Heights) in Ohio.

Wash and foot tub baths continued to take place in all our other farm homes right through the 1930s.  When our 11-room home on Brandt Pike just north of  Sulphur Grove (now in Huber Heights)  burned to the ground in 1940, a small house replaced the bigger farm house.  

Finally, in 1940,  the family had an inside toilet and a bathtub.  We were truly grateful that now we could each enjoy a long, hot bath in our own clean water - at any time of day or on any day of the week.

(This memory was prompted by an article in the magazine, "Country Living", from which the photo was borrowed.)

- This story has been edited by Mrs. Heck’s brother, William S. Filbrun -


"The Saturday Night Bath " - Mildred Filbrun Heck - all rights reserved.  Permission to reproduce it or any part thereof must be obtained from the filbrun.com webmaster.

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