1919 Advice on Building a DIY Shower (Seriously)

vintage shower

I’ve written previously about the etiquette book Good Manners and Right Conduct by McVenn (!) published in 1919. It’s painfully, painfully boring.

But I did come across this weird gem in it. It’s surprisingly detailed instructions on how to build a makeshift shower. (Note: The photo above is not a photo of what’s described below, which is impossible to find. It’s a photo of a 1908 bath to give you the sense of other bathing experiences around that time.)

Behold, McVenn’s DIY Shower Advice:

For less than five dollars a very effective shower may be arranged as follows: Get a good-sized empty wine cask and open it at the top. Bore a hole near the bottom and fit to it a short length pipe with sprinkler attachment. Build a firm platform in a corner of the room, about six feet above the floor. Have a stout ladder nailed in place, the upper end resting on this platform. Place the cask on the platform. It can easily be filled with water by mounting the ladder, and is now ready for use. A fair-sized cask filled once a day will furnish sufficient water for baths for a small family, and by more frequent filling will serve a large family. This means cleanliness and a growing self-respect.

In fairness, if someone doesn’t have running water, a cost-effective way to create your own shower is probably appreciated. It just seems kind of complicated to me. And where does the water drain to?

Image via Stylepark from an interesting article on the history of the bathroom.

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