Thursday, February 11, 2021

Everybody talks about the weather

Mother Nature wants attention, apparently, so she's decided to try and freeze everyone in the midwest to death.  All told, I probably spent a miserable hour outside yesterday, bundled up like a mummy tending to animals.  We've had highs around fifteen degrees up to now, but guess what?  Sunday the high for the day will be one degree, with a low of minus seven.  I'm staying home!

The thought of one more week of weather this cold is depressing, but when I feel like having a pity party, I remind myself that for the first 12 years of my life, I had to use an outside toilet, privy, outhouse... in Iowa and north Missouri, we called them toilets.  If you've never sat down on the cold wood of a privy seat and felt the north wind blowing against your bare butt about 40 miles an hour as you relieve yourself, you've never lived.  Those toilets were drafty!

At least my mother put a chamber pot under my bed on the coldest days of winter, so I didn't have to go outside first thing after waking up.  She even emptied the pot, later on in the day.  No wonder I'm spoiled.  On cold nights she would also put a hot water bottle by my feet to help warm me up when I first hit those cold flannel sheets.  No wonder I once asked Mother, "Are we rich?"  She laughed at that, but I was serious!  With a pot under the bed and warm feet IN my bed, I felt like I was in the lap of luxury. 

The first inside bathroom we had was in Harlem, an unincorporated area of Kansas City.  No more going outside to the toilet!  For a few months we lived in a tiny three-room apartment with RUNNING WATER (didn't have to carry water into the house a bucket-full at a time).  There wasn't any hot water, but we were moving up in life.  Oh yes, and we shared the bathroom with two, and sometimes three other families, but we were all related, and that didn't seem like a problem to me at the time.  

We only lived in the apartment until my parents found jobs and got back on their feet financially, after losing their job at the switchboard in Eagleville.  They weren't fired, but times were changing and those switchboards were no longer needed.  Gone were the wooden telephones with a crank on the right-hand side that hung on a wall in most homes.  It was 1956.

When I got home from school, both my parents would still be at work.  An aunt and uncle lived in the apartment directly below us, so I'd go down there and watch TV with my cousin, Alice.  It wasn't long before my parents bought a television; Mother said otherwise, they'd never get to see me, because I'd be down there with Alice, watching TV.  

When we first got the television, and before my mom found a job, I came home from school to see her crying in front of the TV more than once.  Why?  Because she was watching "Queen for a Day".  Sometimes she was crying sad tears because some ladies told such unhappy stories; other times, she shed happy tears when the woman with the most pitiful story won the prizes.


Memories.  That's what keeps me going these days.

I'm just putting this picture here because it makes me smile.

And just in case you want to see what my mother was crying about... 


  1. Fortunately I am of the indoor plumbing age (when we had water in the well) but we still had neighbors with outhouses out back and I can imagine exactly how it would feel using it on a frigid day like today. When we didn't have water in the well, almost always in the fall months, then we had to grab a shovel and use the cornfield.

  2. I loved reading your memories, Donna. My memories are what's keeping me going as well. I've been thinking a lot about my Dad & Mom lately. Dad will be gone 34 years on Saturday... now more than half my lifetime. I can't wait to see him again, as well as all those precious ones who have gone before me. ~Andrea xoxo

  3. I was born in 1956! I have only used outhouses(or pit toilets) when camping or hiking and would prefer not to. That is unbearably cold. I feel bad for complaining about our temps in the 20s.

  4. Keep those memories coming! Love reading them.

    I ventured out to the grocery store today. By the time I walked across the parking lot my feet felt like chunks of ice.

  5. I was one of those that had an outhouse until I was 13 years old. I agree Donna, Brrr when that cold wind blew up on the holes. In Northern MN it was cold too! Still is. This morning was -33 below. We have this clear until next Tuesday and then they'll probably extend it again.
    Glad your kitties are co-sleeping in the cooler bed. I keep straw in my cat's bed, much warmer for them. Wendy

  6. I remember queen for a day. Hadn’t thought of that show in 50 years.

  7. Oh yeah, I remember the outhouses. My rich friend had one with two holes. Don't know why I thought that was a luxury. Who would want to share using an outhouse?:))
    We are scheduled for 1 degree low on Monday. Can't imagine that being your high. Take care and stay warm.

  8. I went to a country school the first three years in school and that country school had outhouses. Brrr. Luckily when we lived in the country we had indoor bathrooms. That was in 1943 or so.

  9. You are right it could always be worse. Thank goodness for indoor plumbing. I'd hate to think about having to go outside. We did that at my grandparents and will never forget the long walk to the outhouse. It was cold. We are so spoiled these days compared to our ancestors. I like to look at pictures that make me smile too! Thanks for sharing yours with us. Keep warm and count your blessings!

  10. I've never had to deal with outhouses thank goodness! I can't imagine going outside in the frigid cold first thing in the morning! I remember my mom watching Queen for a Day.


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