I love to soak in a wonderful bubble bath...
I grew up in an older family. My parents were born in the early 1900's, and their parents were born in the late 1800's. People are amazed when I mention that I knew people that were born in the 1800's. But for me, it was the norm.
Because they were of a generation quite a bit older than most of my friends, their ways, habits and traditions were also a bit out of touch. My parents were the age of most of my peers' grandparents.
One of the things I grew up with was a generational line drawn between bathing every day and bathing every now and then. My parents followed the tradition of their parents by taking their last bath of the year sometime in the late fall and not bathing again until spring. In his later years, my father lived with our young family and followed this same tradition.
But, never once did my parents or their parents ever have a bad odor. How did they not stink?
I really don't know.
They didn't pile on lots of powders or perfumes, and they did use deodorant. They were not offensive in any way concerning their hygiene.
So, how did they do it?
I watched my mother and her mother make batches of lye soap - something I cannot stand to this day. She would render lard in a cast iron skillet, also saving the ashes.
And then I ran across the web site for Colonial Williamsburg, where it described in detail how one would deal with those who did have an offensive odor. They simply sprayed a lace handkerchief and slipped it up their sleeve. Then, it would be quite handy to remove the hankie and place it near the nose and sniff the perfume. Maybe that's why my female ancestors kept hankies close by them, sometimes tucked in their ample bosoms.
Mom and Dad also believed that bathing too often in the winter months would provide more opportunity for disease and the ague to set in. For females, a monthly flow meant no bathing, and certainly no washing of hair. I argued and argued with Mom over this one, but she finally relented to letting me take a short bath, but don't even ask about washing my hair.
Perhaps part of the reasoning comes from just how hard it was to get a bath ready. In the hills of eastern Kentucky, running water was a rarity. It meant heating up the water on the stove, perhaps after hauling it in from the creek. Dad would take a bath first, followed by my three sisters. Since he worked in the coal mines, the water would readily turn black, so by the time the youngest of my three sisters had her turn, Mom had to really hang onto her so she wouldn't lose her. Hence, "don't throw the baby out with the bath water!"
I love the cleanliness standards of today. I grew up feeling greasy and smelly (those teenage years encouraged the oil in my hair and skin), so I love to soak in a wonderful tub and read a book with a candle glowing softly nearby. My towels are soft, unlike whatever feed sack Mom could find to use as a towel.
But, how did they not stink?
I must thank fellow blogger, Caroline M. Pointer, for her post of today, and for her challenge to write a blog on this subject. Caroline, I did it. But, how did they?