The Sauna

One of these days, remind me to thank my Aunt for helping to teach me that you have a fundamental right to basic human conveniences.

A swimming pool, air conditioning, bathrooms with showers and plentiful hot water, dishwashers, domesticated animals that didn’t sneak in from the woods & had all their shots; the list went on and on.

While I lived at the bottom of the big hill on Crickettown Road in all my farm girl splendor, she resided at the top of the crest in the mountain on majestic Heights Road.

While we collected kindling, felled trees with a roaring chainsaw and taped plastic to windows to insulate, she had heat.

When the temperature skyrocketed and we ran through a crappy sprinkler and slept without sheets with the windows thrown open she had an olympic sized pool and central air.

It was like fucking Mecca up there.

Anyway, sometime during my childhood she embarked on a master bath and bedroom renovation project that would alter my world and change forever my thoughts on home decor and luxury.

It was true splendor.

You see, she was the first person I’d ever known who’d ever gutted the top half of her beautifully angled cape cod to create a full on suite of pamper.

The bedroom was elongated and revamped, then given a finishing touch with a carved mahogany four-poster bed with a custom canopy and
the bathroom, which now ran the length of the back of the house,was  elegant and spacious with a changing area and attached to the one feature that I have never forgotten.

The sauna.

I can already feel my shoulders come down from around my ears

The first time I set foot in that hot baked cedar box with the scalding rocks it seared itself right into my small brain.

It didn’t take long for this special room to acquire a whole new set of uses for bored restless delinquents.

Nevermind that the rocks were so hot that they would turn your tiny hands to flaking ash if you dared touch them or that heat prostration was a very real and looming danger. We would routinely fire it up and jump in fully dressed to see how long we could stand it before bursting out the heavy door gasping for air and just the tiniest bit of life saving humidity.

When I think back now knowing that sauna’s routinely run near 200 degrees I wonder how we remained alive.

In retrospect, it was probably my aunts keen awareness of our raging stupidity that made her inclined to install the door latch on the INSIDE, preventing what I’m sure would have been five tragedies (she has four kids, I was her spare).

To this day I look at my shabby bathrooms and fantasize about the veritable shangri la of warm water, hot air and easy living but remain determined to someday construct a therapeutic hot box of my own.

super awesome sauna picture from here!–



Filed under install the latch on the INSIDE, now I have a crackhouse bathroom, pamper yourself, reasons to re do your bathroom, saunas rock, things from my past that were better than my present

26 responses to “The Sauna

  1. chuck duffy

    oh my god i so have something to say on this, but I’m not 13 – I’m 45 and I’m supposed to be all mature and shit

  2. You can still get a portable one! Put it in the alley if you don’t have room!

    • dufmanno

      I LOVED that room when I was a child and now that I’m an angry gnarled pent up old person it would probably do me a world of good to sit in a scalding hot room naked. Or, you know, with a fluffy towel on.

  3. Tom G.

    Both of my Uncles worked in the Chevy engine plant in Tonawanda and could afford above ground pools with there nice Union wages. We used to alternate sponging off of them in the summer. Digressing…

    I don’t think I’d even knew that Sauna’s existed until my 20’s. Although summer nights in my upstairs bedroom in our old house were kinda like a sauna. (Jesus Christ I have no idea how we lived without AC.) We’d have killed one of us for sure if we had access to a small room with that kind of heat. The temptation to lock a cousin or sibling inside, and re-enact some scene out of a Poe story would have been overpowering.

    • dufmanno

      If I managed to survive that long with a heat chamber available to me every single day, then I remain convinced it is safe for homes with multiple children.
      The fact that I’m still breathing means it’s completely idiot proof.

  4. What a great picture your word paint of how kids do sauna.

    Someday I need to find out how I do sauna at my age.

  5. macdougalstreetbaby

    The next town over has a community pool equipped with a sauna and steam room. They’re glorious when empty. The problem is when my timing coincides with the Natives; large women with whiskers and varicose veins, sitting nude, hungry for conversation. These kinds of spaces are fantabulous but only when you’re with your own.

  6. Michael Freeman

    “The Sauna”…or as I like to put it,…the final nail in Mar’s Decade of Decadence..some may think hiring the mentally challenged to clean your home(while your still home,,and in between tea and tennis) would qualify but its not close…Hiring an acerbic hot tempered 50 year old man,who was a disgruntled ex WWII army cook,and had a colostemy,a death fetish,and an unhealty obsession with the English Series “Upstairs/Downstairs” truly a “My Three Sons” episode as imagined by Tarantino, would rate pretty darn high…or even some throw away items (The .Crushed Ice Machine/The Garbage Disposal/The Sending your Chubbby 8yr old youngest son, into Stout Steves to buy ciggaretts,(no wonder I started on Marlboros before my first Wet Dream)…the Woman should have had a t-shirt that said “Let Them Eat Cake”..(in bad 70s lettering of course)…actually strike that …Ive decided that Im gonna put that on her Tombstone….But The Sauna pretty much symbolizes everything about the insanity that permeated 42 Heights Rd….Its no wonder that I am thinking of installing Kitschy Tiki Bar,circa 1950 in my house….what can I say ….shes my Hero….teehee

    • chuck duffy

      I said it before and I’ll say it again – if you two don’t collaborate and get this stuff down on paper you are crazy.

      • michael freeman

        Chuck,….the amazing thing is we actually “water it down” rather than “Gin it up”….it was actually that bizzare….of course I wouldnt have traded it for the world…

    • dufmanno

      I’m starting a decade of decadance over here. It may not be as good as Mar’s but I’m going to try. Just to kick it off right I got tennis whites and two silver iced tea pitchers.

      • Bedila Butterworth

        OMG, reading it is sooo funny! But better is that it is all true! You got to send this to the Mar!

        Bedila Butterworth.

  7. And really, the only way to sauna is privately. I just find I can’t relax being sweaty next to strangers. Or being next to sweaty strangers. Either one.

    • dufmanno

      That is why everyone must consider purchasing one of these for the master suite you will all begin constructing right after reading this.

  8. As a child, when I went to play with my 4 cousins, the most exciting thing they had to play on were those giant cable rollers. The ones that look like a huge thread spool. My uncle worked for the electric company and he brought two of them home so we could have races on them. It was the best bad idea ever! One broken arm later, my aunt forbid us from playing on them anymore.

    Saunas sound far better, both then and now!!

    • Tom G.

      Hey! Those cable rollers were all over the place at our house! (My Dad worked for the power co. too) I have no idea what he thought they would be useful for but we had some awesome races in the yard with them.

    • dufmanno

      Those are like giant thread spools. Oh, giant thread spools of death if you play on them

  9. Oh My I love your Aunt.

    I had a friend who had a sauna in high school… we used to sit in that thing for what seemed like hours – DAYS even. Then we would blast out of it and run jump into her freezing swimming pool. How we didn’t shock the hell out of ourselves, I’ll never know.

    • dufmanno

      Strong cardiac health inherited from hearty stock. No child ever seemed to die from the jolt of the hot/cold extreme plunge.

  10. Can 200 degree heat actually kill bacteria? Because when I’m in a sauna (which is never) all I can think about are the human drippings that I’m sitting in.

    Fine. Don’t invite me to your next sauna party – I’m a total bummer.

    • dufmanno

      The only way to work through your fear of human drippings is full immersion. We will all sit in a puddle of our own making in a sauna until the pools of sweat merge and we cannot tell from whom what came.
      I just felt a ping of horror in my gut.

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