When I Was Young in the Mountains: Ett Family Outhouse Edition

Filed under no i really do love ohio, too much information

When I was growing up in Ohio, our little farmhouse had an outhouse. We didn’t use it, of course, but we would paint it when it started chipping, knock the wasp’s nests off of it when they began to show up in the summers, and peer curiously into its butt-size seat hole when we’d use it for concealment in games of Hide & Seek.

My mom used to tell my sister and me about the days just after she and my dad got married in the 70s, before they built a bathroom onto our house. The two of them actually did use the outhouse as if it was a normal toilet back then and would just drive up the road to my grandparents’ house to shower every morning. Sometimes when my mom would have a hard time pushing her poop out–and I can tell you this because she’s dead now and likely won’t be able to do anything about it–my dad would bring a glass of hot water or milk to the outhouse in the middle of the night to help her out.

Can you imagine this? It’s the dead of winter, the ground is covered in snow, and you have to trek out across the yard in your parka to get to the bathroom. And once you’re there, you have to sit in this unheated little wooden room, shivering and still half-asleep.

AMAZING! And, you know, my parents only did it for a year, I think, which is crazy enough. But I wondered to myself today: who lived in our farmhouse before us, and what the hell were they doing without a bathroom?


  1. thickcrust says:

    Selfless act of spousal affection or foreplay?

  2. bluzdude says:

    When I write about our living in an old farmhouse and having a Barn, back in the 70’s outside Toledo, we also had an outhouse, a nice 2-Seater. (Bring a friend!)

    We guys occasionally used it for #1, but never #2. But we had a house with only 1 bathroom, so sometimes you needed Plan B.

    The girls, however, never EVER used it. Too many spiders.

    I couldn’t get over it having 2 seats though… you’d be definitely sitting cheek to cheek. Maybe for shared body heat for those late winter nights?

  3. Tessa says:

    Our lives have the WEIRDEST parallels, I swear. It’d make more sense to me if they were uniformly similar, but it’s only apparently in stuff like our late mothers and the shacks they grew up in.

  4. Cassie says:

    I’m sure my Mom could totally relate, having grown up on a farm in Minnesota. Me? Not so much. However, I DID have to shower with dozens of other women when I was in the Army and sometimes we’d have to have supervised showers…by our Drill Sergeant. Ick!

  5. Tracey says:

    My mom grew up with an outhouse! I’ll have to ask her what age she was when her family finally got indoor plumbing, but I do know they were without electricity of any kind until she was a teenager or something.

    It was a different house than the one my mom grew up in, but the house my grandma lived in up to the end of her life had an outhouse in addition to an indoor bathroom, and I remember LOTS of family members using it with little fanfare. If you were outside already or if the inside one was occupied, you just went out there instead. I was always amazed by how not smelly it was, and it weirded me out to not hear a tinkling sound when I peed into it.

    I LOVE the idea of a two-person outhouse, though! It reminds me of The Love Toilet.

  6. Times like this, I’m convinced the two of us were switched at birth.

    My parents’ house doesn’t have an outhouse, of course, since it was built in the 80’s, but we do have a well house that looks remarkably like an outhouse. Seriously. All it needs is a little crescent moon carved in the door.

    Recently, I convinced my dad to at least let me paint it white (it’s currently red). Outhouses should be white, shouldn’t they? Isn’t red all wrong?

  7. Dishy says:

    I just read the most interesting book called Flushed. It’s about the history of plumbing/plumbers and seriously – where would we be w/out them?! Why – crapping outside! God Bless Them, every one.

  8. Dishy says:

    PS: Wasn’t there a recent case about some crazy dude in NYC hiding down inside a port-a-potty, taking photographs?!

  9. Julie says:

    Really? You are making this up. REALLY?

    I’m speechless.

  10. Mike Lowrey says:

    Sorry to spoil everyones reminiscing back to their younger days of pooping in a hole in the ground but, I was born and raised in Brooklyn.

    Yeah we had indoor toilets since the 1900’s, lol.