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Frozen toilet water takes me back

June 30, 2010
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On Saturday, after the forth frost in a row, the water in our toilet froze. Yeah, pretty cold – the kids thought it was cool though. Our 1920s house is typical of many Southland houses, the toilet is stuck out the back, often on its own, beyond the kitchen. I’ve visited numerous houses with the same set-up. Back in the day it was beside the coal shed (now a spare bedroom) and would have been the outhouse and you would have had to go outside to get to it.

That made me think about how our houses have changed so much and with it water consumption. With two toddlers, I (or hubby) do the washing at least once a day, sometimes twice or if we’ve been away, three (and our neighbours with seven kids do horrendous amounts of washing). Yet washing machines weren’t common place until the 50s (Fisher and Pakyl started building them in 1939) and even by then half of New Zealand house holds didn’t have one. Washing was a once a week occurence that took a morning of hard work, lighting a fire to boil the clothes in the copper. I thought it would be easy to find out how much water my washing machine uses, but it doesn’t say on the washing machine and I can’t find the answer online. I’ve emailed Fisher and Paykel so await the results.

A 1959 kitchen from NZ Home and Building 1988 magazine CCby The New Zealand Electronic Text Centre

Bathing habits have changed dramatically too; hence why older houses often only have a bath and no shower. While baths use more water, they used to be used less, rather than the once-a-day shower that is fairly standard now. I am going to try to track down some old magazine articles for more about hygiene habits -just for some fun sidetracking (help Catherine, your history research skills needed).

I love this photo of this 1959 kitchen, the washing machine proudly beside the fridge. Not much bench space eh.

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