Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Revenge of the Claw Foot Tub

I realized too late that you don’t buy old houses—old houses buy you. And “charm” is spelled: $$$$$. When we purchased our hundred year old house in Northwest Portland, it came with an enormous claw foot tub. Mrs. Chatterbox said it was charming and worth the cost of having restored. I wasn’t convinced, but the tub must have weighed as much as a Sherman tank and having someone come to our house and restore it seemed preferable to lugging it down the stairs.

So we paid to have the porcelain redone and the claws refinished. I must admit it did look charming when finished, even though we could have installed a new Jacuzzi tub for less money.

Mrs. C. insisted that I take the first bath.

I turned on the faucet, sipped the glass of Chablis she brought me and waited for the tub to fill. The water wasn’t rising very quickly, and it still wasn’t very high by the time I drained my wine glass. I called for a refill. After two glasses, the water was still only a few inches high. It didn’t matter; I had a delightful buzz going and climbed into my newly restored claw foot tub.

The water barely covered my toes. I turned the faucet to maximum and settled back for the hot water to reach a level I could enjoy.

I waited.

And waited.

By the time the water reached my privates it was already turning cold. I thought about

giving up and climbing out, but I’d spent a small fortune and was determined to finish at
least one bath in the darn thing.

The water finally reached a suitable level, but it was now icy cold. Mrs. C. poked her head into the bathroom to say, “There’s no more hot water in the kitchen.”

I wasn’t surprised. “We need to budget for a bigger water heater.”

“Would you like another glass of wine?”

“No, but a hot cup of cocoa would be nice.”

By the time she returned with it, I was immersed and shivering in frigid water. My nipples were hard as glass cutters and it would have taken a melon baller to scoop out my testicles. Worst of all, my fingers and toes had curled into claws.

I’d discovered the real reason they called it a claw foot tub!


  1. Tankless water heater - stored right in the bathroom.

  2. The cast iron has to heat through as well. If you rush you get the burn of hot water until you sit down and then your bottom is frosted. Very odd sensation. And yes, heavy as heck. We've dealt with a couple of them in our renovations in France. Hauling them upstairs to put them in is always fun.

  3. This is the way it always used to be years ago. These big old baths are probably the reason that showers became popular.

  4. Hard to drink wine in the shower, but you can certainly conserve on water.

  5. So funny! I remember bathing in claw foot tubs at relatives and even at a motel when I was a kid. We'd only be allowed about 6 inches of water so it was dang cold in there. Children don't dally long in a claw foot tub. ;)