Thursday, July 22, 2010

Childhood Stories - Moberly - Bath

We had running water on the farm; if the person carrying it back from the well was strong enough, he could run with it.

We had a wringer washer and a good sized bathtub in one corner of the house downstairs. Dad built walls around that corner with more of his poplar lumber, several boards nailed to a 4 by 4 pole every few feet, and a doorway draped with a blanket.

I think these implements drained through some pipes Dad had laid down to the lagoon.  I remember hauling water into the house, for baths, but not out again…

Saturday morning, ten AM, time to start preparing a bath.  For best results, use the following procedure:

Find the plug, plug the tub. 
Put your boots on, and find a couple five gallon buckets. 
Go out the basement door, around the end of the house and up to the well. 
Let the dipping bucket down into the well, hand over hand, till it reaches the water, tips over, and fills. 
Haul the full bucket up, and pour its contents into one of your five gallon pails. 
Repeat this process for the second bucket. 
Take the handle of one full bucket in each hand, and walk, with as little spillage as possible, down the hill, around the house, into the basement. 
Take your boots off. 
Carry the water through the kitchen, and into the laundry room. 
Pour each bucket into the tub.

You now have a good inch of water in the bottom of the tub.  Repeat the whole process ten times more if you wish to bathe in any reasonable depth of water. 

Having done these preliminary preparations, you now have a bathtub with ninety to one hundred gallons of ice cold water.  To warm it up enough to bathe in, do the following:
Make sure the power plant is on.
Find the electric heater with the metal foot and the rubber handle.
Find an extension cord, and check it for open wires. 
Plug it in to the power source on one end, and the heater on the other end. 
Place the metal foot into the cold water in the tub. 
Wait for six hours while the water warms up. 
Unplug the heater. 

You are now ready for your bath, as are the other ten grubby people in the house.  Fight or negotiate for your place in the line. 

Following this simple 96-step procedure will insure that you get a bath, almost every time you do it!  For the maintenance and development of friendships at school, do it five times a week.  You won’t regret it!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Childhood Stories - Moberly - Encyclopaedia

Back in 1963, for the betterment of his children’s education, Dad had purchased an encyclopaedia set from World Book, and had continued to receive yearbooks from them until the early seventies.  I discovered this set sometime in my preteen years, when I was still in single digits.  I developed a great love for geography and maps, and for cities and population figures, for countries and which ones bordered them, for details about what were the longest rivers and the highest mountains.  If anyone wanted to know which city in the United States was the fifth largest in 1963, all they had to do was ask me.

Hardly anyone ever did ask me, though, so I resorted to telling them whether they wanted to know or not.  I would regularly pepper any of my siblings within range of hearing with questions about the things I loved.

“Hey, Peggy! Do you know what the capital city of Uganda is?”

“It’s Kampala.  Which river do you think is longer, the Fraser river or the McKenzie river?”

“The Fraser?”

“No, the McKenzie is 2500 miles long, and the Fraser is only 1200 miles.  Do you know what the deepest lake in the world is?”

“Jamie, how am I supposed to know all this stuff?”

“Well, it’s all there in the World Book encyclopedias!”

I should have been their poster boy…

I do remember a time in grade six when my knowledge left me in good stead.  I was not a very popular boy at school; our bathing habits on the farm kept getting in the way of developing relationships, they could only be done at a safe distance.  But we were having a team geography game, and four team captains had been selected by the teacher.  They were to pick teams.  Shannon Willard picked me first overall, the only time I think that ever happened.  “It helps to have Encyclopaedia Brown on your geography team,” she reasoned.  They used that nickname for me while the game lasted, I assume because I had knowledge (encyclopaedia), and because I failed to wash up much (brown).