More Answers to Your Questions

Sara asked: If you could change one thing about your leaving, what would it be?


Sara, this is a difficult question, partly because I don't know if you mean the things I could have changed, or what circumstances I wish would have been different. So, I will answer this in two parts.

I don't think I would change anything about the manner in which I left. I knew I couldn't let anyone Amish know I was leaving, or else I would have been overwhelmed with people trying to pressure me to stay. I didn't actually lie to anyone, yet I quietly made my plans for leaving and carried them out. I don't think I could have done it much differently than the way I did and still pull it off.

If I could change one circumstance around my leaving, I would have wanted to know at least one person in Vermont who could help me with getting settled. It would have been less of a feeling of being perched over the abyss of the great unknown when I took that night train out of Cleveland.

As a rule, I don't spend much energy thinking about what I might have changed in my past. Instead, I try to learn from my mistakes and my hardships. Yes, it was hard to not know anyone in Vermont when I arrived there, but it also gave me a clean slate to determine who I wanted to be or become. I was open to making new friends, and that soon gave me a support base that sustained me then and some of those people are still my friends now (one is my husband). So, upon thinking about this twice, perhaps I would not change this circumstance, either. I guess this brings me full circle, sort of like a snake biting its own tail — I don't know that I would change anything.

Plaingrl asked: Why do some Amish people only take bath's once or twice a week?

Plaingirl, I don't think I can speak for those Amish people who bathe infrequently. To get an answer, you'd probably have to ask the people of whom you speak.

I will, however, try to give you some context for some possible reasons.

I tend to love my daily showers. Ahh, the luxury of the warm spray of water that comes out of the wall in the bathroom! It is something I give thanks for daily, partly because of what I had to do to "earn" a bath or homemade shower when I was growing up. If we had rain water in the tank in the basement, it wasn't quite as bad. During the times when that tank was dry, we had to carry water from the pump out by the barn. We heated it in the "cooker" in the basement, or on the burners of the oilstove or cookstove. Then we had to lug cold water to mix with the hot. In winter, the galvanized tub had to be brought up from the basement, cleaned out, and set in the living room, next to the stove. Now the hot water would get poured into the tub, then the cold to get it to the right temperature. Now we made sure our curtains were covering all the windows for privacy. Finally I could take a bath. But that was not the end. Now it was time to bail out the dirty bath water. And the tub was unwieldy enough that I couldn't carry out the last of it by myself. Now that process had to start all over for the next person.

In the summer, we had a different process. Instead of bathing in the living room, we had a corner of the basement set up with plastic curtains around the drain. After the water had been lugged and heated, I would separate it: I poured some of the warm, clean water into the garden sprinkling can and hung it from a hook on the ceiling in the basement and the rest went into a hand basin with a clean washcloth. I'd soap myself down, and then came the fun part. I'd hold the arm of the sprinkling can and guide the spray down over myself. We called this our "homemade shower." Needless to say, summer bathing was much easier than it was in winter.

I have a question for you: if you had to work this hard to "earn" your baths or showers, how often would you bathe?

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8 thoughts on “More Answers to Your Questions”

  1. Well, I never had to work like that for a bath, but when I was a kid it was customary to bathe only once a week. We strip-washed at the hand basin the rest of the week.

    I switched to daily showers when I hit university.

    I reckon times and expectations have changed over the years.

  2. I would be taking a LOT of sponge baths!

    I cannot imagine walking away from everything known, no matter how bad, to the unknown. That took great strength and belief in God to do that.

  3. when my Mom was a girl they only bathed once month. The next generation which was me, we did once a week. This generation which is still me, I shower at least everyday.But twenty years ago I lived in a backwoods community where everybody stank from Monday to Saturday night, so I decided it doesn’t hurt to stink along with them. Even so I bathed three times a week.

  4. Absolutely true, as Katie said. Bathing in wintertime was indeed sporadic. Certainly not weekly in our community. Way too much work in winter as we used the wash house which had three windows to cover and was cold unless the cooker was fired up. Wash ten children in the same water? Not if we can help it. The old sponge bath was the routine for many a Saturday night.
    Water too, was in limited supply. It all had to be pumped and carried and later dumped down the drain. No such thing as pulling the plug. And we did not consider ourselves to be less clean than anyone else. I had no inkling that others would think that we were dirty.

  5. Filipinos, in many areas, still have no running water. Most people, even the rich, only have cold water- but it is hot there all the time.

    When I went to Manila, I was shocked at how things were (just 7 yrs ago). The maids or female relatives would fill large plastic garbage cans with water and haul it back to the house. One would be next to the toilet for flushing, the other in the shower area (with a drain in the floor). A ‘tabo’ or bucket was in the washing water. You were expected to sit on a little stool and soap yourself, then pour the clean water over you with the tabo.

  6. I might bathe once a week if I had to work that hard to “earn” it. I’m not sure I’d ever do more than a really good sponge bath if I had to go through that much hassle. In the summer, my dad used to bathe once a week. In the Gila river! I grew up on the same farm that he did. When my sisters and I came home from swimming in that same river, we had to take a bath to get clran. Funny how times change.

    LOVE your blog,

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