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.
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 Chamber pots are not as widely used as they once were, having largely been replaced by indoor toilets.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.