When was the last time you had to use an outhouse to “do your business”? Maybe you were camping or at the beach. You may have even had the pleasure of using a “Johnny on the spot” on a job site, or at an outdoor event. Can you imagine what it must have been like for people who lived on this planet before water and sewage systems were invented, or easily accessible?
If you have ever experienced living in an environment without an organized water or sewage system for a long period of time, you would probably agree that modern day conveniences (such as a working indoor toilet or shower) are truly luxurious accommodations. The world has been around for a very long time. Only people living in the last few centuries have had the opportunity to enjoy life with a truly sanitary and much more comfortable way to “use the bathroom”.
Unless you have been around a while, or lived through a natural disaster (i.e. South Florida hurricane) you may have not yet experienced living without a working indoor plumbing system. Imagine for a moment that you are getting ready to cook dinner and you will need to go the well to draw water to meet the needs of you and your family from sunset today to sunrise tomorrow. There are no street lights and it will probably be pitch dark outside very soon after the sun goes down.
Dishes will need to be washed after dinner, so you will need to draw enough well water to clean the dishes with afterwards. There are no hot water heaters in existence yet, so in order to properly clean the dishes, water must be boiled. If soap is not unavailable for washing dishes, you may use milk as a substitute. Apparently, it helps to remove grease and even leaves a shine on the dishes after drying.
Everyone will also need to wash their hands before dinner and quite possibly other parts of the body. If you have plans for bathing, this will require several more gallons of water from the well and don’t forget to find cloths for washing. It’s best if you go ahead and have the rest of your family bathe as well. It’s generally a ritual to bathe once every two weeks. Everyone in the family uses the same bath water and it’s a regular bath night extravaganza! Not always appreciated by some.
“Using the bathroom” wasn’t so bad if the weather was comfortable (not too hot, not too cold), dry and you had access to a light to keep watch for insects, reptiles and other wandering creatures that may decide to join you. Unfortunately, bugs (especially flies) are attracted to the waste, so this was a big problem. “Regularity” was key to avoiding late night trips to the outhouse. Diets were carefully planned as such.
Holes or a crescent moon shapes were usually carved into outhouses to help to identify whether the unit was for male or female. Shapes were used as a substitute for words, as many of people were unable to read. Holes were also commonly carved in careful positions on the door to help those outside to identify outhouse occupancy.
Outhouses weren’t the worst of substitute plumbing systems. Human waste has been disposed of in countless ways throughout history. It wasn’t uncommon in London and other parts of the world for the water refuse to literally be tossed out the front door of homes and commercial buildings and into the streets. Other methods did exist, such as connecting a pit to a pipe that would flow around a building and out into the river. Neither process eliminated bacteria, parasites or the horrid smell.
It was not uncommon for the entire city to smell of sewage consistently and had much to do with short life expectancies in yesteryears. Needless to say, this inflicted a high rate of disease, illnesses and death for children and adults all over the world. The advancement of the plumbing industry has played a huge part in reducing disease and illness in the U.S. and has increased the average life expectancy rate significantly.
We have been truly blessed with well designed water and sewage systems and especially in South Florida. With the long list of dangerous creatures that roam in the area, mosquitoes in addition to the horrible heat, it must have been very difficult for early South Florida Settlers to survive (or even be comfortable). The next time you are forced to rough it without hot or running water – just remember how lucky we all are in modern times.
Rapid Rooter does not want you having to struggle without a well working plumbing system, or an efficient air conditioning unit. Ask us about our routine plumbing and/or air conditioning maintenance services. However, if you find yourself needing emergency air conditioning or plumbing repairs during the hot South Florida summer, give us a call at 877-202-6874, or visit us online at www.rapid-rooter.com . We look forward to your call.