Gut Rumbles

April 10, 2005

the outhouse

I didn't live in a house that had an indoor crapper until my parents moved to Savannah. In the coal mining camp in Lewellen, Kentucky, we had an outhouse (a two-holer--- a sure sign of prosperity) and a ceramic chamber pot stuck under my bed for night-time emergencies in the winter. You were supposed to pee in the pot if you had to go during the night.

My brother once shit in it and got his ass whipped for doing that. He was four years old and afraid of the dark. He stunk up the whole house really bad.

If you've never used an outhouse, you have not lived a complete life.

I got in big trouble once when I conspired with my friend, "Pee-Wee," to drag a big rock from the front yard all the way to the outhouse and drop it down one of the holes. That task took a lot of effort from a couple of six year-old boys. It was a BIG rock. But we got the job done.

That rock hit the shit-pit with a loud SPLOOP! noise, then slowly sank beneath the surface while we watched it go under. Rats ran around in a panic. Flies buzzed off to another outhouse. It was quite a show.

Pee-Wee and I would have gotten away with that stunt if we hadn't decided that we wanted to do it again, with a BIGGER ROCK. We found one, pried it out of the ground and were all the way to the steps of the outhouse when my father spied us. "WHATTHEHELLYOUTHINKYOU'REDOIN'?"

Pee-Wee and I, standing on the bottom step to the outhouse with a big rock in our hands, gave the typical little boy answer to that question: "Nothing. We're not doing nothing."

My father didn't buy that lie. He ran Pee-Wee home and busted my ass. I never really understood why, but I learned that day that I was NEVER to get caught throwing rocks down the outhouse hole again.

Hell, I had contemplated throwing my BROTHER down there before, but I abandoned those notions after that day. Dad put a good whuppin' on my butt. Now that my father is dead, I can't ask him a question that has plagued me for a long time. I could see getting a butt-whuppin' for throwing my brother down the outhouse hole.

But what was wrong with tossing a rock in there?


Clearly you didn't have to dig the hole.

Outhouses don't last forever, you know. The hole fills up, then you have to dig another one and move the building. Anything that goes in the hole that isn't crap is a waste of perfectly good hole volume, and means more digging sooner when the new hole is needed.

And once the hole is filled and covered over, after a long enough passage of time it has to be dug up and mixed with other dirt. Otherwise one day you move the hole, and there isn't any fresh ground for it... when digging the old hole up, hitting a rock with the shovel means a pain in the butt. You can lift the stuff out with a shovel, but you have to reach in to handle the rock.

Furthermore -- the place smells bad enough as it is. Splashing it around makes it worse.

We didn't have an outhouse when I was growing up in East Texas (I'm four years older than you are, by the way.) But plenty of our neighbors did, and I've dug more than one privy hole. I'd have busted your butt for throwing rocks in there myself.


Posted by: Ric Locke on April 10, 2005 11:28 PM

First it's a rock. Then it's a bigger rock. Next thing, it will be a log. What's next? Your brother? He knew where this was going.

Posted by: oregano on April 10, 2005 11:29 PM

Gramps had blue tick hounds. They liked to sleep on the privy holes. In the winter, this was a blessing- the seat would be warm.

More than once, though. we had to rescue one of those smelly dogs from the shithole.

Posted by: og on April 10, 2005 11:33 PM

One of my regular customers was talking about how she used the Sears catalog OR corn cobs for toilite paper when they had thier out house when she was growning up in Texas.

Posted by: Maeve on April 10, 2005 11:56 PM

I'm telling you right now - I don't do outhouses, Or PortaPotties.

I barely do any public restrooms. Only emergencies. Even then, I time all actions with other people's flushes or the hand driers. I'm liked to kill myself holding back one of these days.

Oh, and I don't want people talking to me! Do guys talk to other guys when they are in stalls?

Right when I started dating my husband I had to use his bathroom. I mean *use* his bathroom. I couldn't stand him knowing I had bodily functions so I told him I needed a shower in order to cool off after a day in the sun. I did what I had to do!

Posted by: "Nicolette" on April 11, 2005 12:02 AM

O lordy! I do believe we have the very definition of "anal retentive" here. :D

Posted by: Desert Cat on April 11, 2005 12:20 AM

Is that what people mean when they tell me I'm full of it? And here I was all insulted, oblivious the the fact they were being literal,

I have a pretty strong stomach. (I worked at an animal shelter for years - I had all but one bodily fluid hit me, and that's just because I aint that kinda girl.) I draw a line in the sewage when it comes to public restrooms.

Posted by: "Nicolette" on April 11, 2005 12:35 AM

Oh yeah, we've got a two-seater at our farm down near the Maryland border. With a bag of lime in the corner and the toilet paper covered by a coffee can.

One time a wasp flew up and stung my aunt in the rear.

In the summer, Dad likes to sit there with the door wide open, reading magazines. He says he's "communing with nature".

Posted by: Grace on April 11, 2005 12:46 AM

Grace... I LIKE you!!!

Posted by: Acidman on April 11, 2005 12:57 AM

Well it seems I've lived by Rob's standards anyways as I have much experience of the outhouse and the po' under the bed. Indoor toilets were a luxury in County Antrim 50 odd years ago. My granny used to wash the wooden seat down with bleach and she always told us children that this was deadly poison. I remember having to go just after she'd bleached. I was convinced I'd got poison on my bum and that I was going to DIE. There was no such thing as soft toilet paper either - posh households had shiny stuff, less posh ,squares of newspaper hung on a hook. A friend of mine swears his grandad always took a duckling into the outhouse with him for wiping his ass.

Posted by: Nelly on April 11, 2005 04:25 AM

Outhouses! Bah! When I was growing up, we had a housekeeper whom was really like a surrogate mother. She said that her grandmother used to wear big skirts and no undies. She had a belt on on her skirt from which she hung a rag. When she had to go #1, she'd just lift her skirts and tizzy on the ground then take her rag and damped it at the well for clean up. When I think about it, this sounds more sanitary that most public restrooms.

Posted by: Susie on April 11, 2005 07:32 AM

A Duckling! LMFAO.

Posted by: Florida Bill on April 11, 2005 09:13 AM

My experience is somewhat limited. I have used the privy on a cold winter's night. I have even dug the hole and built a privy. The worst I did was run off the road in my first car, a 67 Galaxy 500, and take out a privy. Fortunately, no one was in it at the time! I had a girl with 38 DDD tits in the front seat and a gay guy in the back. I was telling a joke to the guy in back and wasn't looking where I was going. I got away with it too!

Posted by: Ed on April 11, 2005 09:42 AM

Here's my experience:

Posted by: Indigo on April 11, 2005 10:25 AM

We had a cabin in the Little Belt Mountains, Montana, when I was growing up, and we spent wonderful summertimes there. The outhouse was papered with Norman Rockwell's illustrations for the Saturday Evening Post. We had a wooden gizmo attached to the toilet seat lid, and roped over to the door, and you had to unlatch the gizmo from the seat when you left. If you forgot, the lid would come down with a bang and echo through the forest like a gunshot. One evening I was in a hurry to get back to the cabin, and the BANG sounded, and I saw a bobcat six feet away from me run up a log into the forest. Started using a chamber pot at night after that.

Posted by: Bonita on April 11, 2005 10:44 AM

I was lucky enough to have indoor plumbing in my house growing up, but the country church we went to didn't. People are amazed that I know what a two-holer is.

Posted by: Tina on April 11, 2005 11:31 AM

I still remember visiting my cousins on a farm in strip mining country in southeastern Ohio who had an outhouse. My dad was out there and just sitting down when he spotted a blacksnake there. He came running up the path with his pants down around his ankles. He got clear to the house before he pulled his pants up. Since he was 6'4" tall and weighed over 300 lb that was a sight for sore eyes. He never went there again. If he had to go he drove to the gas station and used their toilet.

Posted by: dick on April 11, 2005 04:44 PM

I've never used a gin-u-whine outhouse, but many years ago my family was on vacation in the Virgin Islands. We went to this bar/restaurant right on the beach called Foxy's. We'd been travelling around, so we all pretty much had to go.

I have no idea what the ladies' facilities were like, but the men's room consisted of a fenced-off area behind the bar marked "Foxy's Piss Pit". There was nothin in there but dirt -- you would pick a piece of wall, and get to it. I was just glad I only had to pee.

(There was probably an outhouse as well, but I don't recall because I didn't need one....)

Posted by: Strider on April 11, 2005 05:57 PM

You really do need to start that Carnival. What stories these people have to tell.

Posted by: The Babaganoosh on April 11, 2005 06:21 PM

"But what was wrong with tossing a rock in there?"

Let me tell you a little story of a 2 seater and revenge. Every spring, the shitman came with his cart to empty the outhouses so they could continue to be used. There was this boy - a chimney sweep apprentice - who knew he was the hottest thing in town. He took full advantage of his status as a chimney sweep-to-be and lorded it over the rest of us.

I was a baker's apprentice at the time - several social steps below chimney sweep. Worse, in my spare time, I had to tend my grandparents geese - a little kid's job. I was horribly teased all the time for this.

So, one day, I snuck into the Chimney Sweep's outhouse with a goose sized rock and plopped it into the outhouse. There was a wicked, wicked smile on my face as the effluvia swallowed that rock with nary a sound. I managed to leave without being caught.

A week later, the shitman came to town and pumped everyone's outhouses. When he got to the Chimney Sweep's, the pump slowed, then shuddered to a grinding halt. The apprentices hauled on the wheel to force it to keep pumping to no avail. The pump made the most awful noise. The shitman made the boys stop turning the wheel. He knew what the problem was.

The Chimney Sweep lined up all his apprentices and glared at them. My nemesis was the oldest apprentice, and it was he who had to wipe the hose out and reach in to pull out the rock, that marvelous goose sized rock - with his bare hands.

It was beautiful.

And that's why you aren't supposed to drop rocks and siblings into the outhouse.

Posted by: Noddy on April 11, 2005 10:13 PM

Besides this
There is also the time at my outdoor wedding, that "Someone" dropped an M-80 down the vent pipe of an occupied porta-potty, plus the experiance of taking a dump at the rifle range at Camp Pen. and seeing a writhing sea of maggots, I guess the USMC don't use the blue juice, Just glad there was no splash back.

Posted by: Ron on April 11, 2005 10:56 PM

When my grandfatther came to this country, he singlehandedly built a house out of scrap lumber salvaged from a barn. He couldn't afford all the niceties of indoor plumbing right away, so he built a chicken coop with a room added on to the side to hold a single hole outhouse.

Of course being part of a permanent structure, it didn't lend itself to the usual arrangement of digging a hole and moving the building every few years. Undeterred, he built his seat with a drawer and a metal pan in the bottom. After doing one's business, one pulled out the drawer and carried it to the disposal hole to dump the contents.

Many years later when I was born, and long after the indoor plumbing was installed and functional, I thought it was a neat idea to poop in a bin. Being an intrepid lad of about four or five, I did so on one occasion.

Unfortunately no one had instructed me as to the finer details required in the arrangement, namely the necessity of transporting my little gems to the appropriate depository. And since the outhouse was no longer in regular service, it was many days before my treasure was discovered, masked as it was by the odor of the chickens next door.

When it was discovered, I was banished forthwith from the outhouse, and grandfather installed a latch on the door, high above my reach.

Quite unwittingly, I got some sort of revenge for this. Having been instructed that the door must remain locked, and I was NOT to enter therein again, I took the lesson to heart.

Old habits die hard, and grandpa still occasionally used his outhouse contraption. I came through the yard one day and noticed, much to my chagrin, that the lock was open! Fearing that I would be accused of the trespass, I fetched a stick, pushed the latch closed, and went on my merry way.

It was several hours later when grandma came home and discovered grandpa locked in his own outhouse.

Somehow I never heard much about it afterwards. I think too many members of the family were in stitches over the escapade for me to catch any hell for it.

Posted by: Desert Cat on April 12, 2005 12:03 AM

"Grace... I LIKE you!!!"

Awww. Thanks. *blush*

Posted by: Grace on April 13, 2005 03:14 PM
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