Toilet Outhouse: An Outdoor Bathroom
It Can be a Nasty Place to Visit
I was entering the second grade when we moved out to a tiny country logging community and not surprisingly the old toilet outhouse was definitely the largest culture shock waiting there for me. We not only had them at home but they were also at our elementary school too.
These were to unfortunately become a part of my life till I entered the 9th grade. Growing up in the country I was more than a little freaked out by the old hole in the ground toilet that we had to use. These outdoor bathrooms were the grossest little sheds that one could imagine. Daytime trips were bad but that was nothing to what the evening visits were like, these toilets were more than a little spooky to use at night.
The concept is simple, dig a hole in the ground, shove a little pre-built wood house over the top of the hole, and voila you have an outhouse. The toilet seat section was usually just a hole cut through a board so that it was situated directly over the pre-dug hole in the ground. Some larger units had 2 holds which generally included a large and a small one so that all members of the family could sit without fear of falling in. This was where you sat and prayed that nothing came up from the hole while you were hovering over it.
Come on in and Have a Seat
Yep, talk about a scary creepy bathroom to visit the old country outhouse was it. It turned everyday into an adventure and especially in the evening when you had to saunter on out just before bedtime. It would just be starting to get dark and those shadows in the trees looked pretty darn frightening.
Growing up in the country I learned pretty early in life how spooky going to the bathroom at night really can be. You had to worry about an animal jumping out at you from the surrounding bushes as you made your way to and from the house, and throughout your visit you had to worry about the smaller creatures and insects there attaching onto you during your visit.
Us smaller kids were of course pretty worried about falling through. Sometimes whoever was cutting the hole kind of went overboard in the measurements so this was a very real possibility. We held onto the seat boards to insure that we did not tumble down into the nasty depths below. Going to the bathroom back then truly was scary business.
What frightened me the most was the thought of a bear chancing upon me. This nervousness was perfectly logical too as we lived in a little back woods community called Bear Lake which definitely lived up to its name. There were a lot of bears living there. I always took the time to listen for a moment before I opened the door to enter or exit the outhouse.
Ah the Memories How Sweet They Truly Are
I would have given my eye teeth to have indoor plumbing but somehow we managed to avoid that luxury for quite awhile. In the meanwhile I was destined to enjoy the old country version of the throne.
Those outhouse toilets were far from being sanitary as well as you can well imagine. To me it smelled like something had crawled down the hole and died. Talk about a toilet that would give you nightmares that old latrine was it. It smelled awful and you could never hold your breath long enough to escape the room without getting a heck of a good whiff.
The smell was not the worst aspect of the outhouse either because in there with you were about a hundred spiderwebs, spiders, mosquitoes, and flies.
Now I was wise enough to know where those flies had been and exactly what they had just previously had their little feet sunk into so the mere thought of them touching me really was a nightmare come true. Yet there I would sit, completely trapped with these gross little creatures flying in and out of the hole and all about my face, legs, and hands, as I sat.
Spider webs seemed to hang everywhere in those little houses. It still gives me shivers just thinking about it. Most people feel a little creepy when they see a spider scamper across the floor but just imagine how it feels when they are scampering over, under, and around your exposed bare backside. There is nothing more chilling than knowing that some little creature is crawling all over you. Once you get the notion in your mind it is difficult to lose that thought.
It's a Distinct Image of Rural Life
The strange thing is that I also have some very wonderful memories of those old outdoor bathrooms as well. I can remember how hard my dad worked digging that lengthy narrow hole. With a family of eight people he had to dig down pretty deep. I am sure that those holes were at least 10 to 12 feet in depth.
I can remember my siblings and I sitting at the top of the hole and peeking in as dad worked. Talking to my dad as he labored in the task he never chased us away or acted like we were in his way. He laughed and joked about digging his way through to China and how he was sure he could hear the Chinese talking down below.
As a kid I didn't realize the true depth of that heavy duty task. It was damn hard work. Now when I think back I truly appreciate the work that my dad did for our family. When all is said and done there is no love lost for that little wood house. I hated having to use those outdoor latrines and the memories of those visits hasn't grown any fonder or dimmer through the years.
A Little Peek at a Few Styles of Outhouse
I have enjoyed creating online articles since March 2007 and write on a variety of topics. Writing is my hobby, my work, my play, and my passion. I hope you enjoy your visit.