Big Stinky Hole

If you have never been in a stinky outhouse, you haven’t lived. That is you haven’t lived in a rural area where there is no indoor plumbing. Those days are rapidly disappearing as people build modern houses. Actually, they have been disappearing for some time. When I was a very young child, we lived for a couple years in such a place. We had an outside toilet, better known as the outhouse. It was a small building a little way from the dwelling house. It had a slanted roof as is the style of such edifices. A hinged door led to the inside where there was a wooden bench with a hole in it. Beneath the bench, in the ground, was a pit. A big, stinky pit containing feces and urine, which at that age I called pee-pee and poo-poo. To peer into the pit took a whole lot of curiosity accompanied by a measure of bravery.

In some outhouses, quite often there was no toilet paper to use. That is one reason, I suspect, that folks in days gone by were so happy to see the seasonal catalogs come.

Irritations besides lack of soft paper and smell were present. Flies buzzed about in the summertime. Big, green blow flies, having dined on the excrement in the pit, would land on the you, most anywhere there was bare skin. Mosquitoes, spiders, and other bugs were often present, but to me, bacteria-laden flies were the worst.

Some relatives and family friends had the old outhouse well into the early 70s. Even still, a few places out in the country have them. Some are better maintained than others. One woman I heard of had a toilet seat and a throw rug in her toilet.
When the pit got too full, the solution was to dig another pit some feet away and move the slanted-roofed edifice over the new pit. The dirt from the new pit covered up the leavings in the old place.

If you should ever have the need and the only available facility is the antiquated necessary place, here are a few guidelines.
1. Enter slowly. You never know what kind of wildlife might have taken shelter in there.
2. If at all possible, try not to look in the hole, especially if you have just eaten or are about to eat.
3. Sit carefully. The seat might have some remaining waste from previous users.
4. If there should happen not to be the familiar white roll, look for old newspaper or hope you have something appropriate in your pocket. Using old paper requires you to rumple it up to soften it, or so people have said.
5. Do your business and get out as quickly as you can. There are far fewer less pleasant places to be.

WARNING: There will be a noisome odor. Do not try holding your breath. The average person can hold their breath for only 30 seconds to a couple of minutes

This article was written by Margie Campbell

I have been "writing" since I could first hold a pencil. I would fill lines with squiggles thinking that could convey my ideas to the world. As I grew, so did my interest in writing. It really helped when I learned to make letters and to combine them into "real" words. I have a degree in creative writing and a Master's in English (tech writing specialty). I am retired from teaching all types of writing as an adjunct at community colleges in VA, MD, Ohio, and WV.

10 thoughts on “Big Stinky Hole”

  1. When I was in Ngorongoro crater in Africa looking for animals, I asked about facilities. The driver said to get out and stay near the car while she kept an eye on the rhino in front of us. I decided to wait.
    Bev Dahlman

  2. My grandmother had one and it was a two seater. They at one time had 9 children. It made me appreciate modern convenients.

  3. Great thing to write about Margie. I remember out houses as a child visiting my aunt and uncle in the country. One horrible day I got locked in the out house because the door closed with a piece of wood on the outside, and as I closed the door it slipped and enclosed the door from the outside. I had a lot of time to be horrified and contemplate the smell and what was down in the hole until I was discovered and released. I can’t remember how long I was in there but it was long and I have to be completely in utterly terrified. I was probably crying and almost hysterical when I was discovered.

    1. Pam,
      My mom told me about a woman who had her only child late in life, and he meant everything to her. I guess he wasn’t used to an outhouse because at around age five he went by himself and fell in the hole. He was fished out and the woman grabbed him hugging and kissing him before he could be cleaned off. Now that is certainly strong mother love. 🙂

  4. Where I used to live back in the Netherlands (far away from Amsterdam or any city), a not-so-well-off farmer used the “fertilizer” from his outhouse on his fields so that paper would flutter all over the fields. It was a good way to grow crops in the poor, sandy soil.

    In many parts of the world -for me, India and the rural Middle East come to mind- the outhouse is still considered almost a “luxury” as opposed to doing your business in the gutter or the desert. When on an excursion in the Sahara, I asked the guide where the toilet was (since there were elaborate kitchen- and “living room” tents), and he smiled pointing at the desert. Particularly my female companions were not pleased, looking for non-existent shrubs or bushes…

    It may be weird, but I believe those of us who have experienced “the outhouse” are better people because of it; we appreciate all the luxuries we have now a bit more than those who have never experienced lack of water or a toilet.

    1. Jorinde,
      You have certainly give some food for thought.

      The women on your Sahara excursion were something like the pioneers who went west in the wagon trains. Imagine crossing the plains where there were few trees or bushes. At that time, they must have been grateful for women friends with full long skirts to shield them from the sight of others.

  5. My grandfather got indoor plumbing when I was about 12. Wee spent a week or so with him every year. I hated that damn outhouse, especially the flies. To this day I hate them. Funny the way they could eat the shite but they came up for fresh air so often.

  6. One other suggestion I’ll add-don’t leave your pipe in your back pocket of your jeans or you may see it fall to make a landing in a place that you’ll leave it.

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