The Good Old Days? The Outhouse

Remember “the good old days?” Well, part of that would have been the outhouse. Not so good huh?

outhouse found in rural america

The Old Days

We all yearn for the good old days when we see children spending hours on video games and catch ourselves wasting time on social media. We remember that when we were children, we were outside playing! Climbing trees, exploring in the woods, working in the fields, wading in creeks, and not huddled in front of a Playstation or TV screen. Drinking water from the garden hose and still alive today to proclaim it!

Cartoons were for Saturday morning. During the week there was Howdy Doody and Captain Kangaroo. On rainy or cold Saturday afternoons there was Shirley Temple and Tarzan. It was not anything unusual for 7-8 kids to be gathered in our living room watching TV on Saturday afternoons. Not everyone had a TV in their home. TV was black and white of course. We all practiced the Tarzan yell lol.

There were lots of things about the good old days that may have been better, or just different. But some things…..I’ll never want to go back to)))) One of those would be the outhouse! Now I know, typically a blog should contain pretty images. Sometimes content isn’t so pretty! So indulge me in this moment of remembrance))

outhouse, outdoor toilet

The Outhouse

Wikipedia describes an outhouse like this: An outhouse is a small structure, separate from the main building, which covers a toilet.

Actually, the outhouse covers a hole in the ground. I’m sure there were different versions of the basic structure, but for all practical purposes… was a hole in the ground. Heaven forbid if you ever fell through the opening! I never knew of it happening but just the thought of it was fearsome.


My parents built a house the year I was born, so I grew up with indoor plumbing. My grandparent’s houses were different. One grandparent had an outhouse till the day she died and my other grandparents added a bathroom to their house, but they would still depend on the outhouse from time to time. I guess it took some transitioning to the new addition.

My maternal grandmother died when I was very young and my grandfather died before I was born, so I don’t recall spending the night at their house. But my paternal grandparents lived close by and we practically lived with them. My dad was an only child, so we four grandchildren were “prize pigs” as they say and they doted on us)))

On any night that we stayed over, even though they had indoor plumbing, my grandmother would keep a “pot” under the bed. She had a big bedroom with two beds and the pot with the lid would stay tucked under her bed in case one of us needed it during the night. I don’t know why we couldn’t walk through the house and go to the bathroom unless it was because the bathroom had been added to the back porch. But still….when you are young you don’t ask questions and just do as you are told)))

enamel pot with lid
Enamel Potty with Lid

If you’re wondering why I am reminiscing about these topics, I visited the Union County Museum in New Albany, MS with friends over the weekend and it really brought back some memories))

While we are on the subject of outhouses, toilet paper comes to mind. How would you like to use the pages from a Sears & Roebuck catalog? Yep….the good old days)))

sears catalog for toilet paper

Funny Stories

Now, my dad was known for his storytelling. How many of them were true, I just don’t know))). But he told us one about a chamberpot kept under the bed. I believe it was a story about a relative, but I don’t remember who. Apparently, she wasn’t a genteel southern lady and was quite cantankerous.

Anyway, she needed the “pot” one night and asked her husband to warm it up in front of the fireplace. Whether it was intentional or accidental we will never know, but he warmed it up all right!

She got the hot seat and had a ring around her bottom for about a week! You can take that with a grain of salt. Who knows if it’s true or not, but I’m betting that it was)))

Also, he said it was common around Halloween to mess with outhouses in the community. Like tipping cows, they would tip over outhouses. Or pick them up and move them to a new unusual spot altogether like the front yard or something like that.

Back to the Present

So while we reminiscence about the good old days, let’s not forget that some of them were not so great))). I’m looking forward to that long soak in my tub tonight with hot water up to my chin if I want and all the bubbles too. Much better than a bath on the back porch in a galvanized tub filled with water from the garden hose and then warmed by the sun.

What are some of your fond, or not so fond, memories from your childhood? I would love to hear about them)) We can compare notes…lol

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  1. I remember outhouses but not pot under bed. Our bath was a metal tubb and water drawn from a well with a bucket attatch to a rope. I stl say good ole days were good !

    1. We didn’t have a deep well but I remember a neighbor who still used one….they had a long metal thing that you eased down into the well and filled with water then drew it back up by a rope. I think they called it a cistern or something. We are so blessed aren’t we. Just go to the faucet and get our water without ever even thinking about it.

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