Growing Up in the Midwest


The Outhouse

“Life is just one moving experience after another.” Author Unknown

Not twenty feet due east of the stile and only thirty feet north of the house sat the infamous outhouse until we got in-door plumbing around 1950. I think the old house remained for several more years as a shed for garden tools. I wonder the percentage of the population under 55 that have actually used an outhouse.

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An Outhouse Similar to Our Little Shack Out Back

My memories prior to age five are limited, but I can smell the putrid odor, not dissimilar to, but certainly not as bad as the gas station restrooms in Colombia, South America or the public Japanese or Chinese bathrooms that actually burned my eyes and discouraged breathing in the 70s, 80s, and 90s during my globe-trotting with a mission organization. All outhouses smell horribly the same but always have a touch of creativity with the classical presence inside of wall-to-wall wooden seats that takes up half the space inside the relief station. There is enough space between the boards of the shack to provide a little ventilation while at the same time limiting the strong winds of winter from freezing the victims that had to visit “the little shack out back” sometime during the day or night. They have one or two holes upon which to sit for the necessary bodily functions that can’t be undertaken in public. Under this place to sit is a pit six to ten feet deep where all the family waste falls and is gradually recycled a la natural.

I wonder why there were two holes cut only eight inches apart upon which to sit in the wooden shack the size of four telephone booths. Who wants to spend fifteen minutes there with a parent, a sibling, or a girlfriend? Who ever saw two commodes side-by-side in a home with modern plumbing? So I doubt two adults actually used the facility at the same time unless they arrived home from church and didn’t want to fight over who would be first. If two people never actually shared the outhouse at the same time, I can’t quite figure how one person could use two holes at the same time unless he/she was throwing up and had diarrhea at the same time.

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One thought on “Growing Up in the Midwest

  1. Marji July 9, 2017 at 9:13 pm Reply

    Oh Robert, you KNOW you had the extra hole for your imaginary friend.

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