From Grandpa Koontz, 1857-1914

Keep me nice & clean or I will tell what I have seen.

This is a very unusual piece from Grandma Florence’s collection of “pitchers” . The full text of what runs around the item appears under the picture. Written on the bottom of it, in a child’s print was the title of this article. I have no idea who wrote this — both my aunt and my mother were born 5 to 9 years after Grandpa Koontz (Grandma Florence’s father) died.

For the uninformed the “pitcher” is a miniature chamber pot (for the truly uninformed this was used as a inside toilet before there was indoor plumbing and it was too dark or too cold or too urgent to make the run to the outhouse.) Now, doesn’t the text that runs around the item make a lot more sense?

I guess keeping it with the rest of her collection in the china cabinet showed Grandma had a sense of whimsy.

So why would I choose to add this to my blog? Because it triggered some memories.

First, my mother’s parents used to use the cottage of Reg and Hazel Adams on Mullet Lake during the summer and Mom would take us up there (I think the trips coincided with my father’s 2 weeks of Army Reserve camp). Anyway, the cottage was very rustic — the only indoor plumbing was a water pump in the kitchen. There was a second pump in the front of the cottage and we used to want to be the one charged with priming the pump and getting it going. Since the only water was a pump in the kitchen, there were no bathroom facilities in the cottage. The outhouse was back behind the cottage near the woods and train tracks. God bless Grandpa, he took the job of emptying the outhouse collection bucket in stride and never complained. I will admit to holding it until we were near a restaurant or gas station.

Second, I accompanied my other set of grandparents on a trip up to Mesick, Michigan, were they visited older friends (yes, even older than my grandparents!). We started out in a quaint cabin in Mesick with pretty much modern facilities. But, Grandma was not happy with the way the kitchen was outfitted. Sometime during the week, we moved to another property that Grandma pronounced “Much better”. I looked to find the bathroom and was told it was out back. That night, Grandma insisted that I go to the bathroom before hitting the sack. My introduction to the chamber pot. Grandma grew up in lumber camps near Rogers City and Newberry and was very familiar with the process. Grandpa grew up in Detroit, so I do not think he was as enchanted. We moved back to the not so nice kitchen unit that had indoor plumbing the next night.


About Pat Shaul

Genealogist / Family Historian; Blog started as a record of my Grandfather's post card collection which ran for 15 months. Then, in June, 2017, I changed over to reporting and commenting on notifications from the ANCESTRY app "We're Related" I then started to provide snippets into ancestor biographies on the dates that were significant anniversaries.
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