What? No Bathtub?

by Joan Houghton

It was in the 1950’s that my husband proposed that we  rent an old  charming cottage on the beautiful sand dunes of Lake Michigan for a  3-week family vacation…a family of 4 children, ages 11 to 2 .  It sounded great, till he mentioned that there was no running water, no bathroom, and no electricity.  My enthusiasm sank, ” Well, I have to have my daily bath. “   His first reply  was that he would arrange that; and first  of all he would go to the city dump and look for an old used bathtub.   Thank goodness, that was tongue-in-cheek and he did not mean that.

However, he did go shopping to the hardware store for a  huge galvanized farm feeding  tank and proudly presented it with the explanation he would bring buckets of cold water from the lake.  He would  heat them on the cook stove and shoo everyone out of the cottage.  Then  I could have my private bath.  Well, that worked pretty well and I was grateful.

For our drinking water, we drove into town to fill a  large Scotch Kooler with water obtained from a tavern’s outdoor water faucet.   We became rather adept with the cook stove and kerosene lamps.  Hardest adjustment of all was the outdoor privy, which we labeled “Uncle Henry”.  Naturally,  there were required nightly trips  with flashlights for various household members.  There would often be an encounter with raccoons, snakes or other undesired animals.

Things were going along “swimmingly” until one day I was left alone with the four children in the isolated cottage  while my husband did errands in town.   We were playing games and having a great time, when all of a sudden, I noticed a man who was outside the house.  He kept walking around, but did not come to the door.   Terrified,  I quickly locked it,  grabbed the children, told them to be very quiet and herded them to an upstairs small loft.  I could see him peering closely at the house and walking slowly around.  I was panicky, realizing I had  no telephone, no car and no weapon.

Finally,  he got into a car and drove off.  The  so-called crisis was over and we were shaky,  but fine.    I later learned that he was the COUNTY  ASSESSOR!!!!

This vacation (?) was repeated for one more summer when I insisted, “ENOUGH, and we advanced to a place with more amenities.


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