Answering the Call of Nature in 1912

posted in: 1912 | 0

We’re spoiled today. We’re use to indoor plumbing. If the bathroom is not to our liking, we complain and wait until we find the next one. In 1912, indoor plumbing was almost completely unheard of.

So how did they take care of their personal needs?

1. Water closets—these were a primitive version of the modern day bathroom. Most only had a toilet. They did not flush and someone would have to empty the chamber on a regular basis to keep it from smelling. How would you like that job?

2. Outhouse—these were still very common, especially upon the poor. Regardless of the time of day or the weather when nature called, out to the outhouse you’d trod. Outhouses could have one hole or two holes. It was like stepping into a large cabinet or closet to do your business. My grandmother remembers going out to the outhouse until sometime in her teen years, around the beginning of WWII. She shared with me that a man would come around each week and empty the cans that held the waste.

Two holer outhouse

3. Chamber pot—a chamber pot was often a bowl or pot that was used. It was a lot easier to have on hand in the middle of the night or on a cold, winter day. These had to be emptied on a regular basis. My mother remembers her grandmother keeping one by her bedside in the mid-20th Century. Today they have been redesigned as a bed pan for the ill and invalids.

Chamber Pot

4. Slop jar—used very similarly to the chamber pot. It was just a large jar instead.

Slop Jar

So the next time nature calls, remember how much you have to be thankful for that you don’t have to run outside in the snow or use a bowl to later empty.

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