Some folks take a bath every Saturday night whether they need it or not.
At least that used to be the case, and it’s still likely true for a minute few far away from
civilization. However, as hard as it is for modern society to comprehend, that was often the way it was for our forefathers. Reasons were multiple, and varied with locale, family and tradition, but in those days, most homes simply didn’t have running water.
It was a major chore to take a bath, especially if there were several in a family, so consequently the once-a-week thorough cleaning made more sense. That was generally before our time, but we still knew several families who only bathed on Saturdays.
One particular family, who we delivered groceries to regularly, had their bathtub right in the living room. For those who can’t understand it, there were, and probably still
are at antique shops and in collectible compilations, large metal tubs specifically made for baths. There were probably numerous kinds made of various materials.
Water had to be carried to the tub, often from a hand pump in the kitchen, pantry or porch. Sometimes, it came from the cistern, even though some may be too young to
understand a couple of those terms. The particular Saturday-night bathers we remember did have city water from a faucet, but no water heater.
Few people like to take cold baths, especially in the middle of the winter, so water had to be heated. Often, this was done on the kitchen stove, and sometimes on a heating stove, typically wood-fueled in our father’s youthful days. Others have used a small electric or gas skillet heater to warm the water.
It was easier if there were two for the chore: one to be bathed and one to heat the water and carry it to the tub. Often, though, one person did the whole job, and the water was just lukewarm at best when they crawled into the tub. In some large families, only one tub of water was used, starting from the youngest child to father last.
We’ve always had a bathroom, with a tub and a water heater. However, we have bathed in the spring water of a creek on more than one occasion. That used to be a common practice for cowboys on the trail for many days or months at a time.
Daily baths have always been our routine, with the occasional exception of missing one on Saturday, because we weren’t going away from the ranch. However, with no public commitments recently, we decided to rebel against civilization, so to speak,
and not take a bath for an extended time.
We didn’t make it until Saturday night. Five days were all we could take of ourself, and the water was so thick it hardly went down the drain. Reminds us of the fellow who smelled a rather unpleasant odor, then realized he was standing downwind of himself.
Cleanliness is next to Godliness. Certainly personal hygiene is important to our health, happiness and especially those who have to be around us. The message is relayed nine times in the Bible. It is best summarized in Psalm 18:24: “So the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.”