Old School Bathtub

It may have taken me forever and a day to realize that the heater was broken but i noticed early on that the hot water heater was not up for the job. I could manage around 6 minutes of warm water in the dead of winter and 10 minutes of hot water in the blazing heat of summer. With a sub-par water heater and a well pump that didn’t have a holding tank, the thought of a bathtub had crossed my mind. I could always boil water for a bath but i couldn’t fix a cold shower. I wasn’t looking for a major bathroom renovation. I was dead broke at the time. So i turned to the pioneer days for a rather basic solution. Way back in my childhood i remembered watching an episode of little house on the prairie. There was a bathtub without a drain. It was the basic model; before we came up with all the fanciness that hooks up to city plumbing. The main problem with this kind of tub was that i had to be able to lift it to drain the water after the bath. That little detail effectively governed which size tub i could look at buying. I was determined to find a tub that wouldn’t rust and wouldn’t weigh a ton. So i went to our local everything store; Gibson’s. I bought the smallest steel tub i could find that i could still sit in. I drove it home and set it in the bottom of my shower. I filled the pasta pot with water and set it on the stove to boil. Once the water was bubbling i switched off the stove and carried the pot into the bathroom where i carefully dumped the contents into the steel tub. Then i turned the shower knob all the way to “hot” and emptied what warm water there was in the water heater into the tub. Once it was 3/4 full, i dipped my hand in. It was nice and hot. I sunk into that bath like butter. That water felt so good on my tired sore muscles. It was better than a cup of iced tea to a dying man stranded in the desert. I sat in that tub until my fingers and toes looked like raisins. It was so luxurious to be able to soak in hot water. That settled it. No more showers! I began getting up an hour early to boil water and soak in a hot bath every morning. I was more sleep-deprived but so refreshed. When the water had lost its heat i would step out, wrap a towel around myself, and tip the edge of the tub, gradually pouring the bath down the shower drain. When the tub was empty i would set it in the kitchen on the cool stove to dry. Eventually it came time to put flea and heartworm meds on Sili. She could only tolerate the topical ones. Once a month i would make a bath in the evening, soak in it until it felt comfortably warm instead of muscle soothing hot, then hurry over and remove Sili’s collar, lifting her into the tub before the water lost any more heat. I used a bowl to pour the water over her to rinse away her coconut oatmeal shampoo. Once all the greasy medicine was washed off i would lift her out and wrap her in a towel, tipping the tub to drain the muddy dog-hair laden soapy water. I would scoop the dog hair off the drain and put it in the trash bag to protect the septic tank. She would sleep on the kitchen floor afterwards, giving her fur a chance to dry. Showers were bearable during the summer; even enjoyable in August. However, during the winter this steel tub became a very important piece of our daily routine.

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