Gotta go in Victorian times? That's 'Unmentionable'
Therese Oneill remembers watching Scarlet O'Hara sashay around Tara wearing a crinoline skirt the size of a horse and buggy carriage in "Gone With the Wind."
"The only thing I could think was that thing would never fit in an outhouse," she said, and this led her to wonder how women went to the bathroom in olden times.
Oneill answers that question and more in her book "Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady's Guide to Sex, Marriage and Manners," and will talk about the book from 1 to 2 p.m. June 30 at The End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, 1726 Washington St., in Oregon City.
"'Unmentionable' exists because there were some big holes in my love of history. But when I looked for answers, even on the entirety of the internet, they were near impossible to find," Oneill said.
"Only women knew the details ... and they didn't write them down," she said.
For her presentation at the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, Oneill said she is going to combine what she has learned about how women lived in the 19th century with her other passion: the Oregon Trail.
"If their journals are to be believed, most didn't want to be there in the first place. They had to walk 15 miles on wooden soles, keeping half a dozen children from being smashed by wagon wheels," she said.
Women also had to figure out "how to maintain a reasonable amount of hygiene and privacy in the middle of a treeless, bushless Nebraskan prairie," she said.
So how did women go the bathroom, back in the day?
"The general answer is any way they could, but I will be more specific at the talk."
After writing the book, and knowing what she now knows, Oneill said she can't think of a single advantage to living in Victorian times.
"We only see the curated beauty of that time in movies and art. We see those beautiful gowns, but we don't feel the roughness of the fabric [they're] made of or smell the rotten sweat of our, and everyone else's, corsets and pantalettes, masked by unbearably heavy floral perfumes and oils," she said.
Oneill said she is looking forward to her presentation on June 30 and can't wait to meet other history lovers.
Copies of "Unmentionable" will be available for purchase, and she will be happy to take questions and sign books.
Oneill added, "The End of the Trail Museum is one of the most immersive, detailed and downright fun history museums in Oregon, and I am so honored to get to be a part of it."
What: Therese Oneill, author of "Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady's Guide to Sex, Marriage and Manners," will discuss her book
When: 1 to 2 p.m. June 30
Where: The End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, 1726 Washington St., Oregon City
Details: Free with center admission: $11 adult, $9 seniors, $7 children. Call 503-657-9336 or visit historicoregoncity.org.
More: For information about Therese Oneill, visit writerthereseoneill.com.