Aunt Nellie and Uncle Mike T. bought a vacant lot on Lake Saint Catherine. They didn’t use it much, but my family did for several years.
It had a great dock for warming ourselves in the sun or jumping into the water. Lying on my stomach with my head hung over the side, I watched pumpkin seed dart in and out of murky shadows. Periodically, a big bass emerged from deeper water, gliding by like a dark submarine.
David and I searched for wild clams hiding in the mucky silt and seaweed. It took an entire afternoon for us to find enough clams for appetizers. Mom refused to cook our catch-of-the-day.
Not wanting our appetizers to go to waste, we used the sun to heat up the water in Susan’s plastic pail and hopefully cook our clams. This didn’t work out well for the little mollusks. We cracked one open with a rock to make sure it wasn’t edible. It wasn’t. No bon appetite for us.
We spent our nights in a two-room mansion-tent. Several times a day, Mom and I swept out dirt carried in on bare feet. Dad and Mom slept in the back half with Susan (nine years younger); David and I slept in the front.
Mom never outgrew her bathroom demands from when we moved into our basement house, so Dad created a camp-style facility. Like Mrs. Kill (when she told me to fill in my hole), Mom should have been more specific.
Dad dug a pit into the wooded hillside. He placed the trunk of two saplings into the crotch of other small trees to act as handrails on each side of the hole. The idea was to straddle the dumping ground while holding yourself up using the rails.
A roll of toilet paper, stored inside a plastic bag, hung on a nearby nail. A wall made from a sheet provided privacy on two sides; we hoped for the best on the un-traveled sides.
A shovel propped against a larger tree was used to cover deposits. David and I thought it was great, unlike Mom. It’s a good thing she didn’t own a crystal ball; her future held a nasty surprise.
Our makeshift outhouse worked fine … until Mom wrecked it.
Nature called one morning, so Mom trekked up the hill and behind the sheet. A few minutes later her cries of “Help” reached us, along with some phrases I hadn’t heard her say before.
Dad instructed David and me to keep an eye on Susan as he took off running. One of his inventive bathroom railings cracked in half, dumping Mom into the dumping ground. She wasn’t a happy camper or a sweet smelling one.
I bet she flashed back to her childhood outhouse experience, choking with her head caught under the lid and her feet off the floor, while gagging on fumes.
Dad immediately improved our camping bathroom accommodations. Except for mosquitoes, it was still fun to use. But at night, I believed in the buddy system.
Lesson learned: Always let your mother test out any impromptu contraptions that your father comes up with.
Now it’s your turn: What’s your outdoor bathroom experience?
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