Sunday, February 6, 2011

Spit Bath

Although I was very young probably no older than three years, I remember the old large galvanized laundry tub sitting on our kitchen floor.

Mother had filled it half full with water and then she added some hot water she had boiled on the stove to warm it up a bit. This was our Saturday night bath, and my Dad was first. I do not remember him getting in or out, but the memory of him sitting there with mother washing his back was vivid.

Our house did have inside water, but no bathroom, instead we had what you might call a path to a standing outhouse on the alley. We were poor, but better off than some.

When I was five years old we moved from Exeter to Oakland because my dad had secured work on the Railroad as a switchman. Times were better! We now had a bathroom, several bed rooms, and I enjoyed my own bed.

Each night as we prepared for bed, mother would fill a small basin with warm water and we lined up for our “bath” of sorts. Standing at the kitchen sink, mother would lather up the “wash rag” and scrub our neck, face and arms. Then she would give us a quick rinse with another “rag,” and a small towel finished us and it was off to bed.

Although we conserved everything, water included, we did get our weekly Saturday night bath. We did not swim in a full tub, but the water line was maybe 2 inches deep. Enough for us to sit and allow mother to give us a shampoo with bar soap and a rinse with a glass of water with a bit of vinegar in it.

Now we were clean enough to wear our Sunday best for church the next day.

Arriving at church, Mother would give us a quick once over look. I hated this part, because crystal-clear in my memory was the garish look in her eye as she inspected our faces. Usually she would open her purse and pull out her cotton hanky and wet it with a bit of spit.

I would close my eyes in a tight squint as she gave me the final “spit bath” prior to us entering the church sanctuary.

I am reminded that the Bible says that when we come to Jesus that he will bathe away all the spots of sin and we will become wrinkle free and shine like the sun.

Jesus said in another place that there are times when our feet have touched the world, and have become soiled with earthly dust, it is needful that only our feet be washed.

Jesus was saying that although we are a Christian, and are clean, we may need that touch up “Spit bath.”

Although I hated it when mother gave me a spit bath, may I ever be ready to say, “Oh Jesus go ahead and Spit on me.”


  1. What a sweet story. Your memories are precious.

  2. a real hands-on mom.


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