The Claw Foot Bathtub

It all began at a yard sale FOURTEEN YEARS AGO .  My dearest friend Burton (37 years my senior) had  driven up here to my farm from  South Bend, IN to spend the day  with me. We were going to take picture of creeks, trees, old buildings, that was a fun adventure we liked to partake of a couple of times a year.

As we were driving on the back roads from Cassopolis we stumbled upon a yard sale. The place looked pretty well picked over but we stopped anyway. We looked around and was about to leave when off in the corner underneath a piece of plywood that was being used as a table for clothing I found an old Claw foot tub.

I let out a yelp and Burt said without turning around to look at me “UT oh” and smiled as he walked in my direction.

“Burt, look at this cool old tub. ”  He laughed and began explaining to me that it wasn’t  that  cool or unique that  he took many a baths in a tub like that when he was a boy.  The price tag was $100.00.   I did not have a hundred dollars and if I did I would be paying off bills as i had three young teens at home, electric bills, phone bills, groceries etc.

The owner walked over and said….”Today is the last day of this sale. I am moving out west so i would accept any offer on this heavy old thing.”  I smiled and told him i couldn’t possible afford it but it was a cool old tub.  Then he persisted….”Make me an offer, honestly you cant offend me i want the thing gone today. ”    I told the guy i only a twenty and then out of the blue Burton piped in  “I have a twenty Sher” and just like that the man yelled “SOLD”.

I was so excited. Burt has a very distressed look on his face and then ask me how on earth were we going to haul that thing home. We’d have to come back and get it with a truck. I assured him that i had brought a seven foot couch home once strapped to the back of my 78 Thunderbird i could make this happen.  He didn’t look convinced or comfortable.  lol.

Burt was driving a new  Chrysler LHS at the time. I convinced him to help me take the legs off the tub, turn it upside down and it would slide into the back of his trunk without hurting the car at all.  We did it and it worked.  Off we went towards my farmhouse with my vintage tub. (This was also the farm owned before selling it to me). It was in dire need of repairs when i bought it and it was a slow restoration project as i had to do all plaster, plumbing, drywall, etc  myself. No money for hiring anything out.


After we arrived back at the farm. we carefully slide the heavy cast iron tub out of the back of the Chrysler , slide the feet back on and turned it over to its side and then upright. It was now sitting upright in the middle of the yard. I was so pumped I thought it was the best find since buttered bread.  I ran inside to get us a drink of water  and when i came back out this was the imagine I found . I snapped this picture quick and  told Burt that some  day i would hang this photo of him and his car in the bathroom over the tub. Also is our oldest daughter and myself in the middle.  Yes, we might all be rednecks from the country…..

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As I stated earlier it taken 14 years to finally get the tub in and plumbed. Mind you it was no small task getting it upstairs. My girlfriend ( 20 years my senior) was positive her and i could push this tub UP 16 steps to the upstairs south bedroom where i was going to take the 9X12 room and make it into a bath.  Me having the “bull in a china shop” determination I agreed with her and so Cheryl and I turned the tub on its side, pushed it through the door way and started to push it up the stairs. I could hold on to the top and pull upward as it was too  heavy and if we both pushed from the bottom the top would get hung up on the riser of each step. This stair way is tall and narrow so we couldn’t stand on either side of the tub.

Then I came up with the idea that if i put pine 1 x 8’s under the top of the tub it would glide up like grease lightning.  So I raced outside, got the boards and had to race up the kitchen stairs through the hallway and down the dining room stairs to place the boards, then back up the stairs , down the hallway and down the kitchen stairs to get back to the bottom of the dining room stair case where  my friend was literally left holding the tub.   Yeah, that didn’t work either and pretty soon … you guessed it.  Us two woman had this heavy cast iron tub half way up the stairway and half way down and couldn’t move it one more inch.  (It s hilarious picture in your mind right.).

We finally shimmed the tub and waited for my son Thom to come in from outside and after a bit of scolding for trying to do it ourselves, then he called Dad in from the barn and together the two of them got the tub to its final resting place. I use the word final here, because Carl said the only way that thing was coming back down stairs was in pieces. He was serious too.

This last February I finally made Thom’s old room into a Bathroom. Imagine a farmhouse with two bathrooms. What a luxury. Its everything I could have dreamed of.  I didn’t do anything to the tub except sandblast the outside of it and painted it white.  The old wooden cabinet was my great grandmothers, the fireplace mantel was from a BEAUTIFUL  three story mansion in     South Haven that was torn down, and the land split into three partials and new homes built. They were going to burn it.

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Most the hats and purses hanging  on the wall came from my Aunts, or older woman I have had the pleasure of knowing. When I finally found a mirror to go over the  mantel at a T.J. Max store for $20.00 I met the most awesome lady in the store and though we were both just customers at the same time, I feel GOD meant for us to meet.  She is a gem.

I enjoy this bathroom ,  mostly because when I look around me there are so many objects that remind me of someone special. And the tub is wonderful for soaking in the winter time cold, but nothing warms my heart more than the memory of how this old claw foot tub came to life  here on this farm.