A commode for the ages

The Venerable Commode

The date stamp that I discovered on the inside of the Manse’s toilet tank. Which means that people have been making use of that “commode” (as old folks used to say) for 60 years!

One day recently, the Manse’s toilet (yes, we have only one; more bathrooms to follow in the renovation, we hope) did what toilets often do: it kept running too long after it had been flushed. Now, I am neither a plumber nor particularly skilled in anything to do with home-handyman things, but I think we all know what to do when the toilet is running: lift the lid and check out the thingamabob that floats there and jiggle the chain a bit and just generally mess about. And then things seem to right themselves. Mercifully.

So, feeling rather proud of myself for knowing what to do, I did lift the lid, and I fished around in the cold water, and I jiggled the thingamabob, and everything settled down.

And then I noticed the date stamps.

There was one on the inside of the toilet lid, and another on the back wall of the tank. And this is what they said:


Nineteen-fifty-four, people!

the lid of the venerable commode

The stamp – Oct. 4, 1954 – inside the toilet’s lid. There is the obvious question of why a toilet manufacturer would feel the need to date-stamp every outgoing toilet. But  I am very glad that this manufacturer did!

That means that it is the very same toilet that was in place on that July day in 1964 when my family – my dad the minister, my mum, and my two very young siblings and myself (the youngest, Ken, came along later) – moved in to the Manse in “downtown” Queensborough. It is the very same toilet that we used all through the 11 years we lived here. It is the toilet that has served ministers here at the Manse and their families (and their guests, of course) for all the years after the Sedgwicks moved away in 1975.

And, as I discovered during my toilet-fixing exercise, it is the same toilet still in use to this very day, when I find myself returned to the Manse with my very patient and understanding husband, Raymond.

I am guessing that, since outhouses were not exactly unheard-of in Queensborough back in 1964 (and for some years after), our 1954 toilet might very well be the very first one ever installed at the Manse. That is, it might have arrived here when indoor plumbing did. Perhaps it was one of the earliest of the indoor toilets in Queensborough.

Now, I fully realize that a vintage toilet is an odd thing to be struck by. But I kind of am. There is something about the sense of continuity of that thing – that it is the same “commode” (as people used to sometimes say, I suppose feeling that “toilet” was kind of a rude word) that served my family so well when I was a very young child and all through my growing-up years – that I find somehow, I don’t know, comforting? Amusing? Wacky? Historic? All of the above?

Anyway, one thing is for sure: that is one venerable commode.

6 thoughts on “A commode for the ages

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