Reader Grace practically challenged me to a hardship-off. In response to my post “How old am I in dog American years?” she writes:

I was born in pre-economic-Tiger South Korea. We had an outhouse, and took baths in a big tub in the courtyard that my mom filled with hot water. In the winter we went to the neighborhood hot baths (I think they have in Russia too, right?).

As a simple answer I am posting artist’s depiction of outdoor plumbing facilities similar to what my grandmother had. The water from the well was poured into a hand-washing device and dirty water was collected below for whatever purposes i.e. mopping, etc. Once-a-week we went to community bathhouse for more thorough hygienic procedures.

To continue the hardship-off submit your own hardship in comments.

  • I went to a one-room schoolhouse in Iowa. We had no plumbing at home, none at school, none at church. Although school and churches had two outhouses, one for each sex. Once I got past 8 years old or so, mine was the job of filling the water pail. We sponge-bathed all week and on Saturday night, the round galvenized wash tub was brought out and we got a bath in that. I still don’t know how my mom and dad made that work; they were too big to sit in the tub like I did. Maybe just stood up and poured water over themselves to get the soap off? We finally got indoor plumbing when we moved to Harlem in Kansas City. But we had to share toilet facilities with three other families.

  • Donna, I just knew you’d respond. I’ll take your sharing facilities with 3 families and raise you to 5.. I’ve also done sponge bath thing and washing with cold water. You’ll have to do better than that to win the hardship-off. 🙂

  • Oh, I forgot to mention: When we had the outhouse, we used old Sears and Ward catalogs as toilet paper! At least it gave me and my cousins something to read if we needed it. Since catalog pages were pretty slick and non-absorbent, the trick was to wad your page up tightly in a ball, then open it up. It was much softer that way.

  • Okay, I started to respond, but the story of my childhood is so depressing I didn’t want to sully your fine blog with it.

    You can check out the sad, sad plight of emawkc here if you have the stomach for it.

  • Emaw, you may qualify for the Johnson County Regtional Hardship-off.
    Donna, I’ve done magazines, but have you ever used an empty pack of cigarettes (foil removed). 🙂

  • DKC

    We were so poor we couldn’t even afford an outhouse. I just held it for 10 years.

  • Burrowowl

    When I was a kid, my dad used to take us skiing on weekdays so he didn’t have to pay weekend fares for lift tickets. Oh the horrible burden of being raised in the middle class of the wealthiest nation on earth.

  • Well meesha, this doesn’t qualify as hardship I guess, but when I was playing in my grandma’s woods as a child, I used leaves as tissue. One time I mistakenly chose a stinging nettle leaf.

    Not a wise choice, but at least the sting only lasts a minute or so.

  • One time my mom wouldn’t let us throw out the Beluga caviar because we had just opened the can the previous day.

  • midtown miscreant

    we were so poor, if it cost a quarter to shit, we had to throw up instead.