1950 Memories of Suburban Adventures

Outdoor Relief

There’s something about peeing into a stinky hole in the ground that causes outhouses to exert a magnetic pull on kids.

David and I skipped up Grandpa’s dirt driveway to the outhouse. Its three seats varied in size. We worried about falling in if we picked the papa bear hole, so we perched carefully on the front edge and leaned forward. While sitting, we grunted and made pooping noises by blowing on our arms. Once, we checked to see how full the bottom of the outhouse was by holding our breath, pulling the neck of our shirt over our nose, and peering down a hole. Curiosity isn’t always a good thing.

Our fascination with outhouses was genetic, Mom almost died in one. She could barely toddle when curiosity about what hid down in the hole took hold. She rose up on tip-toe, peeked in, and the lid crashed down, pinning her head. Her feet came off the ground, and she started choking–some say from the fumes, others believe from having her chin caught on the seat rim.

Mom survived. On her first date with Dad, she came down the stairs to hear Bochi telling the outhouse story. Dad loved it! I wish there were photos.

My favorite Mom-story is kind of sad. Bochi needed to bake bread and lacked the two pennies needed to buy yeast. Her sister, Catherine, lived across the road, but Bochi was too proud to admit she couldn’t afford yeast. She came up with a plan. Aunt Ann (Mom’s sister) walked over to her Aunt Catherine’s, with Mom tagging along for moral support and because she never wanted to miss anything.

“I lost my pencil for school, and I’m afraid to tell Ma,” said Aunt Ann. “Can I have two cents to buy another one?”

They cried all the way home as Aunt Ann clutched the pencil her aunt gave her, instead of two pennies. No bread today. Although Mom’s family was poor, she said she never knew it. Her father proudly installed the first indoor toilet in Polock Valley. Neighbors came to view the new convenience. Toilet paper was a luxury and used sparingly.

Bathroom and outhouse adventures continued to surface.

Related posts: Pandemonium Trail/Rock Pee-ers


Now it’s your turn: Share your experience with an outhouse.


© Mary Norton-Miller and 1950s Suburban Adventures, 2012 forward. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mary Norton-Miller and 1950s Suburban Adventures with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


  1. Outhouses are still holes in the ground in some places of Turkey

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