Comments on life, the universe and everything from an aging Sixties survivor.

Location: Massachusetts, United States

Ummm, isn't "about me" part of the point of the blog?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Tale of a Tub

Uh huh...I own a clawfoot tub. Bear in mind that the writer's formative years involved outdoor plumbing, and the rest will explain itself.

I am merely the latest in a string of characters to live in this house. The first was "Old Mr. B." Back about 1930, when this town was one of the last in the state to require indoor plumbing, Old Mr. B reluctantly complied. He turned a once-lovely Victorian side porch into a first floor bathroom. Whilst in the building trades, Old Mr. B. was no plumber. He cut corners.

Many of the corners he cut weren't apparent to his successor, Mr. M. His chief contribution to the decor of the bathroom was to kick the door in when one of his kids got stuck. He repaired the damage--sort of. Mr. M. overlooked the fact that Old Mr. B had not bothered to tighten the bolts that held the clawfeet on the tub. This didn't become obvious until Yours Truly added a shower.
After the first clawfoot sailed across the room, I tightened the rest. (No, it wasn't a pleasant job.)

Mr. M. had contributed a few funky additions to the drainage system in the cellar. After a few backups, we had a real plumber in. He updated things as much as he could without blowing the budget, but said that the horizontal runs were too flat and too long and would never be quite right. (You must watch This Old House, HGTV, etc. for that to make sense.) That was quite true.

All this should have warned us. Some years later, the ancient toilet tank gave in. People on tight budgets cannot choose their crappers, so we got the contemporary model...obviously the last of its kind in stock, but functional. Midway through the process, the plumber called me in to show me the extra work he thought we needed.

Devoted watchers of any sort of home improvement TV know that your toilet must sit on a flange that ensures a snug fit between the appliance and the drain. Old Mr. B. had omitted the flange when turning his porch into a toilet. He had just bolted the toilet to the floor, aiming it in the general direction of the drain.

I agreed that we needed a flange.

And so it has gone. The bathroom today bears signs of several of our own failed home improvement projects. Failed, no doubt, because the malevolent spirit of Mr. B. still hovers over the room and curses them.

A local plumbing company runs an annual Ugly Bathroom contest, with a complete makeover the first prize. Only the embarrassment of various family members has kept me from entering, because I'm sure this can would win hands down.


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