The outhouse, subject of song and poem, is remembered fondly by some through the mists of time, and less fondly by others. I belong to the latter group, having had some less than happy experiences in my youth.
The hot, steamy summers and frigid winters were equally uncomfortable. However, the winters were not host to the myriad of invasions of insects, both crawling and flying, that came with the warm weather. Wasps would build their home in the corner of the building, requiring a flaming torch to burn them out. Smoked walls were the result of these fights with the insects, and sometimes the building caught fire and burned.
Spiders, mice, and an occasional snake also came to visit. These frequently required a rescue by an adult. As the privies were usually placed some distance from the house, it was often quite a while before someone heard one's screams for help. Brothers, sisters, and in my case a cousin, were known to latch an outside door where you remained until someone released you.
The only thing I enjoyed during my visits was the Sear and Roebuck catalog. Since the softer yellow pages were used first, the colorful slick pages remained to be read, often through Christmas. I would sit and read, daydreaming of owning the beautiful items spread out before me. My legs would grow numb while swinging from an adult seat. A few households had a two or even a three-seater. These "rich" ones had a large one for Papa, a slender one for the ladies, and a child-size one for the children. Most of the families made do with the generic, one-size-fits-all.
Ah, the wonderful days of old. Fond memory recalls them with the kind of veil of intervening years to soften the stern reality. What we recall most is our youth when life was new, and our future was yet to unroll before us. We could not envision all the wonderful and terrible times before us. Memories are a wonderful and enriching legacy.
They enrich our lives and make me aware that good or bad, I would not want to lose them.
- Barbara Morita, formerly of Jasper and
now living in Utah
Ruth Baker is a retired educator and a published author. She has written on the history of Walker County and its people for over 27 years. She may be reached at 205-387-0545.