Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A POT TO PISS IN

I received a request from a grandson to send photos of something I used when I was a child.  Specifically he wanted pictures and more information on the enamel containers that held arrangements of silk flowers at my house.   Anything for the grandkids, right?  So I pulled out the flowers and dusted off the containers and sent along photos and this information gathered from the internet and personal experience.

Chamber Pot
A chamber pot is a small pot, usually ceramic, designed to fit under a bed or in a discreet closed stool. Chamber pots are not as widely used as they once were, having largely been replaced by indoor toilets. However, in the era when going to the bathroom involved a trek to the outdoors, people who needed to go to the bathroom at night would use the chamber pot to urinate, and empty it in the morning. In homes which had a household staff, a maid would empty the chamber pots as part of her morning chores.

The basic design of a chamber pot involves a pot deep enough to hold urine without splashing, and a secure lid. Usually, a chamber pot has handles so that it can be carried easily.

A common place for a chamber pot is under the bed, as it is a convenient and ready location. Another name for chamber pot or potty was “gozunder,” probably because it “goes under” the bed. Larger gallon size chamber pots were often called “thunder mugs.”
During the day, members of the household would be expected to use the privy or bathroom, unless they were ill. The chamber pots from the night before would be emptied and scrubbed before being replaced in the bedrooms. Commonly, chamber pots would have been emptied into the privy, but some households simply threw the contents out the window, to the peril of anyone below. This practice came to be frowned upon, because it fouled the streets.

Someone else's story:  A sweet young woman found one of the large "thunder mugs" complete with lid at a second hand store. She bought it, took it home and shined it up.  She wasn't sure of its original use, but it was just the right size to hold the chili she was taking to church social.  For some reason the older people in the congregation couldn't bring themselves to try her cooking.

My own true story:  I grew up in a four room house with no bathroom until we "upgraded" when I was in my teens.  We had a privy out back about fifty yards from the house, and we kept a small chamber pot, or potty, under our bed so we didn’t have to run out in the dark or bad weather.  One of the kids was assigned the chore of carrying the full container out to dump in the outhouse.  One night we saw visitors coming to our door.  We knew the potty was full and stinky.  Mother told my big brother to hurry and take it out the back way and dump it.  But the visitors came to the back door and were standing on the step getting ready to knock when my brother almost ran into them carrying the full potty.

16 comments:

TALON said...

lol! Oh my! Poor young lady and her unpopular chili! And lucky visitors not getting a faceful of that other pot!

I'm laughing at the throwing of the contents out the window - the orginal "Head's up!" came to mind!

You'll always have a pot to piss in, Leenie, and that's a good thing :)

Anzu said...

Not only for our pets but also for my family, we have to get this useful and beautiful chamber pots prepared for next earthquakes.
ヾ(;´▽`A

The Weaver of Grass said...

Oh yes, this brought back memories - reminds me of my own childhood. I see them in various vintage shops these days and they are becoming popular flower containers - in my childhood they were very important.

Pearl said...

I loved this.

My mother grew up, the 9th of 14, on a farm in central MN that didn't get an indoor bathroom until 1958 or so. Can you imagine running out there in the winter? I think about that, every now and then...

Pearl

CeeCee said...

Such a fun story to share. Thanks!
I had a friend of my daughter ask me what we ever did about doing research papers in high school before computers. She was horrified to learn that we went to the library and looked things up in various places.
I'll bet your pot story will be more than a little shocking to your grandson. :) Maybe make him a little more appreciate of simple things like indoor plumbing.

frayedattheedge said...

Lovely stories. Fortunately I grew up in a house with a bathroom, so didn't have to trail outside to go to the loo!

Linda Sue said...

Flushers- such modern nonsense! Waste of tanks full of good water!
We had an outhouse in the summer in the mountains- it was nasty and full of spiders- my mom tried her bets to cheer it up a bit with plastic flowers nailed to the wall...nice try...but in the 40 degree below zero winters we had indoor plumbing- damn good thing because if we had had a chamber pot to empty it would have frozen mid toss!
I have a chamber pot in the little BR. use it for cleaning supplies, which never get used, mind you.
Hope you are well!

Mama Zen said...

I'm cracking up imagining that poor woman with her chamber pot full of chili!

Regina said...

Colorful story! I remember my mom mentioned my Great Grandma died of urimic poisoning ..I understood she (maybe more than once) didn't want to go out and use the potty in the cold- Switzerland I'm sure. I couldn't imagine why something like this wasn't set up?? She never said and it didn't occur to me to ask at the time? We had an out house in our shack and it was a bucket before a lava crack (ah ha)! There are some interesting stories too. We have a cess pool now with a regular toilet..but this is common out here! The Chili in the chamber pot story was a kick!! Sounds like something I would of done (lol)

Jill said...

We used a potty when staying at my grand parents' who had no plumbing. We were always told to make sure it really was 'well under' the bed. A toed caught on the rim of a full pot when jumping out of bed in the morning was sure to cause a disaster!!

susan m hinckley said...

hahahahaha! Thanks for a good laugh today! Not sure which story I liked best . . . chili seems to me like it was a particularly unfortunate choice. In fact, I'm hard pressed to think of anything that would be worse to find in a chamber pot. But finding anything in a chamber pot coming to greet you at the door would be plenty bad as well. I find something to be thankful for every day. . .

jeanie said...

Our toilet didn't move into the house until the 1980s - it wasn't too far from the back door though, and so we got to chose the pot or going out there and tended to chose "out there" over the knowledge that the pot also involved emptying, cleaning and putting in the sun for most of the next day.

Elizabeth said...

In England the toilet is often referred to as 'the loo'.
Apparently when they chucked the contents of the potty out of the window they would yell

GARDEZ L'EAU...........
as in watch out for the water!!!!

we had potties under our beds when we were little.
What a sad chili saga
I bet she felt awful!!!

Anairam said...

Hahaha! When we went to visit my dad's parents, we stayed in the bottom part of the house - no bathroom or loo, so we had pots. It was MY task to carry these out to the outhouse, empty them out and rinse them. Jeez, I was all of 6 years old and the youngest of the three girls. I have never quite forgiven my dad for assigning me this chore.

DayPhoto said...

Oh! YES! We have one of those big wooden outdoor sheds and they have worked well when we have have water issues.

Linda
http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com

Buttons said...

Nice story I understand no plumbing while growing up and for many years on the farm. Glad those days are over. B