I got home this evening, dirty, stinking and full of horse smells and such. As I got done with the shower, I thought: Ah, that’s great! Then it got me to thinking of all the different times and places I done the clean up and how so little can make a person feel sooooo good!
When I was a kid, the normal bath night around our house was Wednesday and Saturday night. The rest of the time we cleaned up at the sink. If we’d been out and got extremely dirty so then another bath night was there. Even today, those two days are still my traditional shower nights. Getting into school and playing sports changed that, so it became almost every day at school was a shower – sports had a way of making you want to take a shower.
When I was working up in the mountains as a guide, during the summer time I spent a lot of weeks on a trail crew. We’d rebuild damaged trail, clear trees and brush which had come down in the winter snow. It was dirty hard work. Most of the time we only took a shower once a week – Saturday afternoons. During the week we’d strip to the waist and wash up. We had to pack water to the camp and besides the next day we’d just put on the same dirty clothes to work in. But Saturday, I’d saddle up a mule and pack water into camp. John would get busy heating water to wash with. We had an old U.S. Army shower bucket to shower with. It would hold about 2.5 gallons of water, so you got enough hot and cold water to fill it. Out back we’d built a shower place – just some trees put together for a floor and one hanging high enough for the bucket to work. There was no shower stall, you just stood out and communed with nature while taking a shower. The process was: fill the shower bucket and hang. The you screwed the nozzle up so the water would come out and get wet. Once wet you shut it off, soaped up, scrubbed up, then opened it up to rinse off. Next you washed your hair. Usually you had about 5 minutes of running water, so you never let it run all the time. But boy, was it a great feeling to be clean. The clean clothes felt really good as well.
I’ve done many different thing in the Army as well. In December ’95 I deployed to Croatia/ Bosnia. I was part of a command and control team on a bridge over the Sava River, our Call sign was “Cowboy TOC”. We live and worked in the same place. As it was winter time, I had 6 kerosene heaters going. I’d obtained a three pound coffee can for each of us. What I’d do is when I came off my night radio watch shift at around 0700, I set my coffee can full of water on top of a heater. When I woke up about 4 hours later my water would be just about luke warm, that was all the warmer it ever got. Then I’d get my little blue pan, stand in it and take what we called a “whore’s bath” Wipe down with a wash cloth, soap up, wipe down again and that was it. It’s amazing how clean one can stay. Then you always had some warm water to shave with. After that was done, the can was about empty. If there was any left over, you got a cup of coffee as well! About every ten days or so we’d take turns going into Camp Harmon around meal time. This way the two who got to go took a real shower, ate a hot meal, picked up our clean laundry from the Quartermaster laundry and the most important – MAIL! Many times I’d have to go in more often as it was my responsibility to get fuel for the generators, heaters, MRE’s, water and such. I never had much time for a shower run as I always had to get back for something!
In 2003 I deployed to Kuwait, Camp Virginia which was out in the middle of the desert. Nothing but sand as far as the eye could see. All the water was trucked in. We had bottled water to drink. Because of the hours I worked and such, by the time I’d get around to take a shower, there’d be no water. I was lucky, my cousin was very smart! She sent me a care package with a whole bunch of baby wipes. I’ve taken many a bath with baby wipes. Again it’s amazing how great it is just to wipe your body off with so little. When we moved north to Balad, Iraq, a base later know as LSA Anaconda (it was the beginnings), we still had to burn human waste, but we did have a Quartermaster laundry and bath unit! I’d get in line, standing in my PT shorts and shower shoes. When it was my time to enter, we’d go in, I think it was about 10 soldiers at a time. A NCO was in charge and he’d tell us to get stripped and under a shower head at the ready. When he said go the water was turned on for 9 minutes. Yea, you had to have a system but again it’s amazing how fast you can get clean. Many times I’d have time remaining and I’d just stand under the HOT water using up my full time! It was glorious.
Now in my later years I still appreciate a good shower. When there I get in and get my business done, but sometimes I do stand and just let the hot water run.