What a Chamber Pot Means To Me


What a Chamber Pot Means To Me

I am back from the Michigan U.P. and I am pooped.

I am in awe of those who settled the Upper Peninsula. It was so bitterly cold and inhospitable in the woods that I cannot imagine how my great grandparents could have done it! They lived and worked on that farm all their lives without  electricity, running water, indoor plumbing,  and all the other conveniences that we all take for granted. These were amazing Americans and I am always stunned to think about their strength, courage and resolve to scratch out a living there in those woods.

The last thing on earth that I wanted to do was leave my warm bed in our trailer (no water or plumbing in the winter) and walk 50 yards through the freezing cold and snow to our little outhouse at the edge of the dark dense woods late at night.

 I remember seeing my first chamber pot under the bed at my Aunt Maggie’s farm when I visited up there as a little boy.  Then,  I thought it was strange and highly amusing that my country relatives would use this funny pot to relieve themselves near their bed sides at night.  But of course, as a child and a city boy, I just didn’t get the big picture.

Over the past three years of weekend visits and fridged winter nights in the  snow-filled woods of my great grandparents farm (still without water or functioning toilets in the winter), I have had a great change of heart about those funny little chamber pots. 

I wish I had one of those white porcelain red-trimed pots with the decorative lid as a family heirloom to proudly display somewhere in my city home. It would provide living testimony to my relative’s strength, perseverance, and willingness to do whatever it took to carve-out a life and future for themselves and their children in this very harsh and unforgiving Michigan environment.

The empty plastic gallon milk jugs that we used were not as pretty as our relative’s chamber pots, but they worked like a charm.  And, with that handy practical adaptation, life became much easier in the shivering winter woods of the Michigan  U. P.

It is great to be back home!

V.T.M.

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