Who Cares About the Stinking 1800's?

When it came to bathing, the Romans showed us up once again. It took us 1,900 years to figure out what was elementary to the ancients.
Romans had indoor plumbing, showers and baths, if you could afford it. That and public baths. After the Fall, at least the Muslims continued the public baths, and even Muslim women had their own bathhouses. The Muslims got this from the Romans.
The idiot Christians, probably due to Christian puritanism, rejected the notion of public baths. Even in the US, for the first century or so until indoor plumbing, the idea was rejected. Idiot American women fretted that they could get pregnant by bathing in the same water that men had earlier bathed in.
By the late 1800’s, indoor plumbing finally came to America. God knows who the first American President who regularly bathed was. For most of the 1800’s, all of our presidents were real stinkers. But everybody else was too, so no one cared a whit.
Bathing was a luxury and a PITA. You had to use large buckets and boil the water on the stove. You then poured the water into the bath. Homes sometimes had baths, but had no plumbing running to them. You probably had to heat more than one bucket at a time. People would bathe, the whole family, one at a time, men first, then women, then kids, babies last. The water was so dirty at the end that you could barely see the baby. Hence the phrase, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.”
My grandmother was born in 1890 or so. As a little girl, they had one of the only baths with indoor plumbing in her town in Afton, Iowa. On Saturday night, townsfolk would line up outside to take a bath at my grandma’s house. A bath on Saturday night, to smell clean and fresh for church on Sunday morning. One bath a week, that’s all you took, and everyone was a farmer working daylight hours in the fields.
The 1800’s was one stinky century. You see these Hollywood westerns where the woman has been riding in a stagecoach for three weeks and finally arrives out West where there’s some cowboy waiting to greet her. He’s been on a cattle train for a few weeks, and baths are as scarce as the lawmen out here even in the towns. She gets out of the stagecoach, dress clean, white and barely ruffled, her makeup perfect. He rushes up to her and hugs her. It’s so fake. You know they both must have smelled awfully ripe!

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9 thoughts on “Who Cares About the Stinking 1800's?”

  1. Ah, but the Romans failed to understand the importance of soap. Indians, Middle Easterners and even the barbarian Germanic tribes were using soap while the Romans were just sitting around soaking up water.

  2. Dear Robert
    I have a book by the Quebec historian Martin Blais, called Sacré Moyen Âge, in which he tries to debunk some of the denigrating myths about the Middle Ages. He has one chapter on bains publics. Throughout the Middle Ages, public baths existed. It was the Renaissance that started to frown on them because of the theory that diseases could enter the body through open pores.
    Prudery didn’t exist during the Middle Ages. In those baths, men and women mixed freely. It was also the Renaissance that put a stop to that. For centuries now, Westerners have systematically blackened our ancestors who lived in Western Europe between 500 and 1500, while simultaneously glorifying the gladiator-watching, slave-driving Roman imperialist bastards.
    Human productivity in Western Europe was much higher in 1500 than in 500 because of inventions such as wind mills, water mills and the replacement of yoked oxes by harnessed horses. The productivity of the land also increased because of such innovations as haying, the three-field system of cultivation and crop rotation. The Roman imperialist bastards preferred to use slaves rather than machines.
    We may add that the Inquisition only arose in the 13th century, so most of the “dark” Middle Ages was free from it. Also, witchhunting was more a phenomenon of the Renaissance than of the Middle Ages. It started after the bubonic plague, and acording to Gunnar Heinsohn, witchhunting served the purpose of eliminating people, mainly women, who had contraceptive knowledge.
    Birth control was actually quite common during the Middle Ages. It seems that on average people were eating better in Western Europe from 500 to 1400 than from 1500 to 1900 because demographic growth was slow during the Middle Ages due to contraception.
    Compared to the 20th century, the Middle Ages were backward indeed, but I see little reason for believing that between 500 and 1500 the average Western European lived worse than in Roman times. Of course, the parasitic Roman urban elite must have suffered a dramatic decline in its standard of living. Serves them right.
    Regards. James

  3. Archeologists who studied the bones of peasants before and after the fall of Rome, discovered that peasants had a much better nutrition afterwards.

  4. In many respects, nowadays people tend to OVERWASH and OVERSANITIZE – which has lowered our collective immunity and led to the rise of these new MRSA superbugs, not to mention other skin and hair problems. I agree that people outdoors working in the heat/dirt should wash (nay, SCRUB) daily, but the idea that people who work in clean, air-conditioned offices need to shower everyday because they feel ‘dirty’ is a joke…the ‘dirtiest’ they get might be from walking from their car to their office cubicle where they might break half-a-sweat. However, people that exercise (and thus sweat) heavily every day or every other day probably do need to bathe or at least rinse off after working out.
    Heard a story recently on the radio about how Americans shampoo WAY too often, which damages their hair and scalp in the long run by stripping it if too many of its natural/essential oils: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=102062969
    Also, another nail in the coffin of the ‘race is a social construct’ movement: different races have different hair textures and differing levels of skin/hair oil production, and thus shampooing/washing varies widely along ethnic/racial lines.

  5. Yes RR. I have a really stinky secret. Normally, since I have OCD after all, I take showers about every day. And of course I shower too, but there’s not that much hair to wash anymore. But now I have these corn pads on my feet due to a bone spur. Every time I shower, I have to take the stupid pads off. When you take them off, the tape is wrecked and won’t go back on, so you have to use more tape. Gets a bit expensive always buying new rolls of tape. Upshot is that I am not taking showers every day anymore.
    Of course, I do nothing at all to get dirty other than read some of the comments on this site, which yes to leave me feeling dirty sometimes LOL. Anyway, some guy at a computer who lives indoors and goes out maybe once a day, WTF? I need to take a shower once a day? What the Hell for? So now I pretty much go by the smell test of the itch test. You wait until your nose tells you it’s time to shower. Also, you can wait until your skin starts itching. That’s another sign you need to shower. It’s also a sign that your clothes, pajamas or bedsheets need washing.
    I don’t care if race is a social construct or not. If it is, it’s a social construct with a lot of real world implications, so if it doesn’t exist, it might as well. When Black violent crime rates are 8X the White rates, that tells you all you need to know about what sort of town to raise your kids in. With real world, slam in your face figures like that, whether or not race exists is irrelevant. Something exists, call it ethnicity, and a lot of times, that’s all you need to know.

  6. “And of course I shower too, but there’s not that much hair to wash anymore. But now I have these corn pads on my feet due to a bone spur. Every time I shower, I have to take the stupid pads off. When you take them off, the tape is wrecked and won’t go back on, so you have to use more tape. Gets a bit expensive always buying new rolls of tape. Upshot is that I am not taking showers every day anymore.
    Of course, I do nothing at all to get dirty other than read some of the comments on this site, which yes to leave me feeling dirty sometimes LOL. Anyway, some guy at a computer who lives indoors and goes out maybe once a day, WTF? I need to take a shower once a day? What the Hell for? So now I pretty much go by the smell test of the itch test. You wait until your nose tells you it’s time to shower. Also, you can wait until your skin starts itching. ”
    Was I just transported to a Myspace page..?

  7. When I was young, I was a bit of a “scrounge” and only showered once or twice per week. I even received comments from a few people on my appearance. I’m not sure exactly when my habits changed, but nowadays it seems I can’t fall asleep if I feel the slightest bit dirty, and prefer to shower a few hours before bedtime.
    I work a technical job in which I generally sit at a bench all day, so there’s no real source of dirt or filth. Even so, I still feel a little dirty in the evening and must bathe or shower.

  8. Most people bathe nowadays. Even in nations where hot water is expensive (tropics), people still bathe with cold water.

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