Outhouse Décor Included Gas Space Heater

Youngster's first experience with an outhouse included a close encounter with the gas space heater that was part of the outhouse décor.


| March/April 2015



Little Girl Encounters Outhouse

A little girl encounters her first outhouse.

Illustration by Wayne Stroot

I was about 5 years old when my family and I visited my aunt and uncle who lived on a farm with their 11 children. Their home was an old two-story house with big, drafty rooms and squeaky wooden floors. The farm’s most intriguing feature, and one that would leave a lasting impression on my life, was the outhouse.

Winters in Kansas can be brutally cold at times, and on a day I won’t soon forget, this was no exception. My cheeks were swollen, and my lips were burning and split from being out in the harsh winter weather. Like most 5-year-olds, I had not yet mastered the restraint needed to keep from licking my lips in the cold air. Mom tried to keep lip balm on them, but it usually came off when I wiped my runny nose with the sleeve of my coat.

It was my first visit to the old farmhouse, and I was wandering around looking for the bathroom when I ran into my uncle. “Where is the bathroom, Uncle Hank?” I asked.

“Bathroom?” he replied. He looked at me with watery blue eyes and pointed in the direction of the kitchen. “We have an outhouse straight out the back door,” he said. I saw his slow grin and heard his soft laughter as I squeezed past him in the narrow hallway. All the while I was wondering what an outhouse was.

When I stepped outside, gusts of loose snow pelted my face and eyes. I squinted through the flakes covering my lashes until I could make out a small, weathered shed. As I got closer, I could smell a terrible odor coming from that direction. Yep, this was it. Trying not to inhale too many fumes, I opened the door and almost peed in my pants. Here I was at the end of the line, my footsteps recorded in the snow behind me.

With my nose firmly buried in the collar of my coat to filter out that awful smell, I stepped inside. What loomed before me was a wooden platform with a cracked toilet seat bolted across a gaping hole. Wide-eyed and fearful, I jumped when the door banged shut behind me. I took a deep breath and positioned myself as carefully as I could for the business at hand.





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