Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Privies and Plumbing

Even before Christ, Romans enjoyed hot and cold running water in their homes and indoor toilets that carried wastes to the Tiber River where it flowed on out to the Mediterranian Sea. The desire for cleanliness and other niceties of civilization were lost when the barbarian hordes overran Rome.

By the middle ages, sanitation in the cities still proved abysmal by today's standards. When the bubonic plague rolled around in the mid-1300s and over half of Europe's population expired, the Jews were blamed when it was in actuality their simple practice of washing their hands before meals kept them safe to a noticeable degree.

I love it that Queen Victoria is recorded as saying she took a bath once a month whether she needed it or not. I suppose cleanliness does have its different perspectives!

In the 1800s, while the east coast of the United States enjoyed indoor plumbing, those brave, adventurous pioneers who traveled west to settle the new lands dug privies, and those 'outhouses' chugged along in the rural communities all the way past the turn of the last century.

Fast forward to the twentieth century. A big advantage of city living in the 1920s to the 50s besides electricity was indoor plumbing, running hot and cold water and flushing potties with highly maintained sewer systems. Rural areas were slow to achieve the modern conveniences. Both my husband's and my grandparents still used operating outhouses in the 1950s. They considered indoor potties a luxury. We remember sprinkling the lime to keep the stench down!

Ron, my husband of FIFTY YEARS this June 22--Laaaaa! Golden Anniversary time! Anyway, he reported that as a teen, he and his brother dug a new septic tank for their grandfather . . . well, there actually wasn't a tank back then, just a hole in the ground. Nowadays, while rural living still has no sewer system, the science of septic tanks--large concrete or plastic receptacles buried in the ground has evolved to the point where at least we are no longer polluting the earth.

Running hot and cold water indoors for drinking and bathing is a wonderful thing in our lives taken totally for granted. While the most necessary product of plumbing is safe drinking water--acquired from wells using buckets, windmills, or hand pumps to bring the water up, the most luxuriest is without a doubt, indoor potties!

John David Nightingale, my hero in JOHN DAVID’S CALLING, that launches in FOUR days, grew up with his MawMaw and PawPaw Harris in a little rural community in the Texas Hill country during this time! For a present one year, his parents hired a plumber to install an indoor toilet, sink, and bathtub for them. Boy did they think they were living in high cotton then!

This story is book one of The Revivalist Trilogy which are companion books to the highly acclaimed Texas Romance Family Saga. David, its hero, is the son of Buddy Nightingale and Sandra Louise Harris. He is the baby on Sandy's hip at the end of CHIEF OF SINNERS, but now he's all grown up.

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Born in sin, but redeemed by the blood, John David Nightingale rejects his mother’s heritage and embraces his paternal grandfather’s faith. What price will he have to pay? Vietnam looms and his love, Hannah Rose, beckons, but the call of the Lord is so strong, David must answer.

Pre-order today! JOHN DAVID'S CALLING

Don't you agree we are so blessed to live in these days of bathrooms (several in our houses) and plumbing in general? Are you old enough to remember outhouses? :) 

BIO: Caryl McAdoo prays her story brings God glory, and a quick scroll through her novels’ rankings by Christian readers attests to the Father’s faithfulness. She loves writing almost as much as singing the new songs He gives her—look her up on YouTube to hear a few. Her high school sweetheart husband won her heart fifty-one years ago, and now they share four children and seventeen grandsugars. Ron and Caryl live in the woods south of Clarksville, seat of Red River County in far Northeast Texas, waiting expectantly for God to open the next door.


  1. Congratulations on the new release! Wishing you the very best with this title (and all of them!). I, too, researched the outhouse vs. indoor plumbing, prior to writing a Gilded Age title (among the wealthy)... and wow, was I surprised. So much has changed! Thank you for sharing your insight. And a happy, happy Golden Wedding Anniversary to you--soon!

  2. I can remember in the late 60's our small town had the sewerage system put in. Before that we had an outside toilet or a "dunny" as it is called here in Australia. It had a huge can like thing under the seat and once a week the "night worker"(as he was politely called but us kids called him "The Dunny Can Man") would come and change it. We also had a "Chip heater" in the bathroom to heat the water for our baths and the laundry to be washes. We had cold water taps but no hot water. There use to be an cast iron urn on the combustion stove in the kitchen for hot water in the kitchen, it must have been awful hot in the Summer time but as kids you never noticed those thing we moved house in 1968 our new house had hot and cold running water, a toilet inside and an electric stove. We thought we were just the luckiest people. It must have been heaven for my mum.