Group Title: Historic St. Augustine: De Mesa Plans
Title: "Do not stink above ground"
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00091264/00016
 Material Information
Title: "Do not stink above ground"
Series Title: Historic St. Augustine: De Mesa Plans
Physical Description: Report
Language: English
Creator: Parker, Susan R.
Publication Date: 1989
Subject: Saint Augustine (Fla.)
43 Saint George Street (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
de Mesa-Sanchez House (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida -- Saint Johns -- Saint Augustine -- 43 Saint George Street
Coordinates: 29.896429 x -81.313225
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00091264
Volume ID: VID00016
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution.
Resource Identifier: B7-L6

Table of Contents
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Full Text


So admonished the religious pioneer, John Wesley, to his

disciples in the eighteenth century. For Wesley, the world was

his parish--filled with "parishioners" certainlynot generally

given to bathing. Bathing of the body was not part of the

regimen of folks in the eighteenth and first half of the

nineteenth century.

With the placement of a bathtub in the Mesa-Sanchez, the

interpreters should advise the visitors that bathing was quite an

avant-garde activity in c. 1840. An indication of that is the

remark by a New York gentlemen, George Templeton Strong, in 1843

calling himself "amphibious" because he had taken a bath nightly

for a week.%

By mid-century cleansing the whole body was spreading in

popularity. In 1850 Dr. John Bell of Philadelphia set out to

clean up the American way of life. Bathing had been associated

with health and medicine, seen as therapeutic or preventive of

certain ailments. Physicians sometimes prescribed baths or

administered the ablution themselves. Steam baths, which were

considered superior, or showers- were the favored form of bathing

rather than immersing the body itself. In fact there were

concerns about the detrimental effects of such immersion, one

being that if the dirt could flow out of the pores, it could

conversely be sucked in. At a time when one tubful of bathwater

L *** .- -,

Parker, 2

was frequently used by a series of bathers in e family, this wasee

certainly cause for concern.'

Spongebaths were more common then a more extreme wetting.

Caroline Gilman's 1840a manual lists Instructions for giving

oneself a bath: remove clothes, apply water to the whole body

with hand, then rub skin dry. To do so one could stand on a

carpet or the floor or spread a towel or stand in a large shallow

vessel. ";..with tact and patience" the bather could prevent

allowing one drop to fall on the carpet or floor. Like many

authors on the topic, Gilman assumed resistance to bathing among

her readers. Soap was not used for personal bathing. The

kitchen was the usual bathing place.=

At least one inventory for a St. Augustine boardinghouse,

dated 1841, includes "e large bath tub" and "foot tubs."" The

bather stood in the letter and spread water over the body with

his hands or a cloth., 'They looked like a common washtub.

The bathtubs were probably of metal: copper,zinc, or sheet

iron, painted or Jappaned.t Custom required the-exterior to be

plain brown and the interior, imitation marble-finish, which did

not stand up well, end re-painting was common until the

introduction of porcelain enamels. (This is a description of tubs

taken to the Continent from England.)` For-those less in the

vanguard of personal cleanliness, Ore Howard operated a bathing

SJapan is a varnish yeilding a hard brilliant coating on
such aurfacea as metal or wood. Japan black is a quick-drying
black varnish consisting of asphaltum, linseed oil and thinner.
.. ~. i :, ';, .:~t .; ., .. ..~ ..

Parker, 3

house with "baths warm and cold, vapor and showers on Wednesdays

and Saturdays" near today's National Guard headquarters."

It in probable that bath tubs located in St. Augustine at

this early date were at boardinghouses for the enjoyment of their

urban, middle-class clientele. Charles Loring's parents operated

a "hotel" two blocks south of his home and he may have been

introduced to the contraption via the guests and their needs.

Susan R. Parker
HSAPB Historian
April 28, 1989

Parker, 4


i. >,, Journal of American Studies (March 1988), 12>7

>. Lawrence Wright, Clean and Decent (New York: Viking
Press,1960), 161-163; )))~), 1225..

3. >>>>,> 1226.

1. St. Johns County Public Records: Deed Book 0, page 305.

5. Wright, Clean and Decent, 165.

,. Florida Herald (St. Augustine), January 20, 1836.


The Hip Bath, to become by far the most popular form, is oval,
occasionally round, tapered downwards and with a base tapering
outwards, a high back, a roll-edge and perhaps little elbow rests also
serving as soap-dishes. Many older persons will still remember a hip
bath set out in a cosy bedroom, on a waterproof bath-sheet, with
brass or copper hot-water cans gleaming in the light of a good fire,
and a thick towel warming on the fire-guard.
It is very beneficial in various forms of cholera, colic, liver complaints,
diarrhoea, and disordered conditions.

One model has a little seat halfway up the back, to keep the rump
out of the water; had it only been provided with foot-rests too, a bath
could have been taken without getting wet at alL

The Fountain Bath or Ascending Douche has variable sprays like
a garden hose, giving an upward jet of water over which the patient







Out in the open, with everyone passing
With everyone passing. and shouting What ho!*
She took her bath in the garden
(pausefor hurer)
to paint it. -
So what does it matter. IPd just like to know?

The Sponge Bath is circular, shallow, with tapered sides, a roll-
edge, carrying handles, and a spout for emptying. It may have a little
island in the middle which will be explained. More than adequate
instructions were published for its use:

In taking such a bath it is desirable that the sponge be of large size,
and it should be placed in the bath, charged with water, ready for imme-
diate use. To obtain the fullest benefit in the most agreeable manner, the
charged sponge, as the bather steps into the bath, should be lifted and
carried quickly to the back of the head, which should be slightly inclined
forward, so that the bulk of the water will run down the spine and back;
the next spongeful should be almost instantaneously applied, leaning for-
ward, to the top of the head, and the third, standing quite upright, to the
chest; the arms and legs may then be separately treated: and if desire be
felt for more, the application may be repeated to the back of the head and
The use is recommended, in conjunction with the Sponge Bath, of a
broad stool (heavily weighted at the bottom, to prevent the risk of upset-
ting) covered loosely with carpet, and high enough to reach above the level
of the water when placed in the middle of the bath: the piece of carpet
may be dried each day after use; or a Sponge Bath may be readily con-
structed with a fixed raised centre of metal forming a portion of the bath,
the bather standing as it were on an island; the feet may thus atfirst be
kept dry, and the preliminary shock received on the head and shoulders;
persons who in despair had almost given up the Bath are by this means
enabled to enjoy it without discomfort Should the reaction after a Sponge
Bath be very slow, it may be hastened by the previous addition to the
water of a srmal wine-glassful of eau-de-cologne, spirits of wine, or spirits
of any description, whiskey being perhaps best.

So that the learner might refer constantly to these vital instruc-
tions, there should surely have been an edition printed on waterproof
paper, as was done later for d'Annunzio, who liked to read his own
poems in the bath. 1

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