We recently talked about answering the call of nature a century ago. However, there was much more to tending to these grooming habits than just going. Let’s take a quick look:
1. Toilet paper as we know it today did not exist. So what did they use? This is where the ultimate bathroom reading material began. Magazine and newspapers were kept nearby to clean up with once finished. I’ve often heard about family members using the Sears Catalogue for such needs. The Farmer’s Almanac actually punched a hole in it. This was allow it to be hung up in the outhouse for such needs.
2. Some of the very poor may have kept strips of cloth to use. Unfortunately, these items would later have to be cleaned and sanitized for reuse. The really poor may have had nothing more than there hand to use. I recently read that in India the left hand was used, but in Africa the white hand. This is because the opposite hand was used for greeting others. Imagine how offended the other person would become if you offered the wrong hand.
3. Many other items were used such as grass, water, moss, hay, seashells, wood shavings, and a sponge. These were varied based on the person, region they lived, and economic status to name just a few. For example, in Hawaii they used coconut husks.
4. The toilet could not just be flushed, so someone had to clean these systems out. A hole had to be dug, someone had to collect the waste, or a way had to be found to dispose of the remains. These are just a few ways people of the past took care of this issue. My grandmother remembers the man that came around to “collect” the bucket that was used as the septic system.
5. What about the smell? My grandmother has told me that they used lime. When leaving the outhouse a person would sprinkle a scoop of lime over the contents. I’d think that if it did not have to be used again right away, keeping the door open might help with the smell.
Another reminder of how much we have to be thankful for and the way times have changed. What would you have used for cleaning? How about for the smell?