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Thursday, November 25, 2010

A New Novel, Part 53 The Other Bedroom and Bathroom

We get a short description of the other bedroom.  Then we transition to the bath.

Frau Drescher let them look through the room then she led them back to the center door, “This is the other bedroom.” She opened it. The door led into a slightly smaller room with a bed, schrank, desk, and similarly padded chair. The room had two windows behind the bed and a gas lamp both over the desk and between the windows. The desk took the place of the bedside table. “These rooms were intended for a suite for two young ladies. It will be very appropriate for the Countess and her lady-in-waiting. Finally, I wish to show you the bath.”

Frau Drescher led them to the final door. This entered into a room that was smaller than the other two. The door opened into a blank wall, but a turn to the left revealed the rest of the room. At the end, against the street side, the high window was crazed and curtained. The top could still be opened, but it was more than six feet above the floor. Under the window lay a bathtub. To the left sat a standing sink and instead of the usual stove of the bathrooms Aksinya was used to stood a water closet and a bidet.

Frau Dresher pointed proudly at the devices. Freiherr Bockmann turned his back and blushed. Frau Drescher ignored him, “We have indoor plumbing including hot water in our dormitory. We also have modern toilets and bidets. We want our ladies to have the comforts of modern sanitation at Sacré Coeur. As I mentioned, water for making tea is available from the sink here. We do ask that you do not attempt to cook or bake anything in your rooms. Our kitchen can provide you baked goods for tea, and you can bring your luncheon or breakfast to your rooms for consumption. Supper is considered an important event for the school and dormitory. Only students who are not borded here are allowed to miss supper.”

As I mentioned yesterday, our expectations for sanitary facilities are very different than in 1918.  Typically, in towns people were just getting running water and sanitary sewers.  Baths inside houses with other than just bathtubs and stove is a very new thing.  Did you ever wonder why they were called bathrooms or water closets or why the Europeans separate bath from toilets.  The all in one idea is relatively new even in cities.  In the past, as I mentioned, people went outside to outhouses for the toilet and used bathrooms exclusively for baths.
Sacré Coeur is a very high level school.  It obviously caters to young women from wealthy backgrounds.  I will not go into the details in the writing of explaining how important an invention a bidet was considered to women in an era when toilet paper did not exist and women's sanitary devices consisted of rags, cloth pads, and belts.  Notice that the Freiherr is embarrassed.  Toilets and such facilities were embarrassing to people in this time and culture, but the women's outlook is very utilitarian.
Finally, we get to the details of eating at Sacré Coeur.  Breakfast and dinner (luncheon) are short and light with a heavy supper.  The heavy is nothing like our idea of heavy.  In a school like Sacré Coeur we could expect the minimum of food size to give the full courses to the students because much of their training is in how to eat, etiquette, and decorum.  We also see how important tea is again.  Note the carry on of the idea of a water closet.  You get your water for tea from the bathroom.  There is no need to have it close to the tea preparation place.
Happy Thanksgiving.  I would have liked to include some bit about thanksgiving in the novel, but that is an American holiday.  Perhaps if we get to the USA at some point, I can include it.  That is a hint.

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