Today’s post comes from Jacque

Many of you on the Trail have seen the books I make for my mother for Christmas. Several of the books I have posted on the Trail.   For those of you who are new to the Trail or might have missed the previous posts I will tell you the story of the stories.

tootie-pumps-waterDuring the summer of 1984 Mom, who was then a teacher, took a course given by the Iowa Writers’ Workshop to update her teaching license. The Iowa Writers’ Workshop sponsored these courses throughout Iowa. She attended her class at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa.   Writing memoirs was the topic. My mother wrote her stories of growing up on a farm near Pipestone, MN during the Great Depression, in a family of eight children.

going-north-to-the-outhouseIn 2008 and 2009, after Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimers Disease,   she moved out of her home to live with my brother in Central Iowa. I drove down for the weekends, picked her up, and we would be off to her house to sort through her belongings. I made a note to myself to find the stories. Mom had told us her stories throughout our childhoods, including these. We knew they were in her house, but as her memory for things faded, she forgot where she stored them.

chamber-ptTucked away in a file were the stories she had written 22 years before.

I co-opted them. As her Christmas gifts from 2009 to this year, I adapted one story per year to a children’s book. You can find all of them posted on the Bookemon website. The one I post here took me two years to complete due to life’s demands. This one is called “Potty Talk” about life on a farm without the modern plumbing we now have.

Follow this link to see the book.

Most families have potty stories. Do you have one?

44 thoughts on “POTTY TALK”

  1. How charming, Jacque; I love the illustrations, too. What is your mother’s reaction to this wonderful gift? Is she still cognizant enough to recognize these stories? I sure hope so, but even if she’s not, they’re a labor of love and a true treasure for the entire family to have.

    I’m can’t think of any potty stories that relate to my family. We always had indoor plumbing, albeit the old “yank on a chain” type to flush from a cistern perched high above our heads.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mom has never reacted much to these. She remembers the stories, and she remembers taking the class. I have observed the same kind of frozen emotions in her when her siblings died (her younger sister, the baby in the tub, is the only sibling left). She just seems kind of numb.

      Her kids, grandkids, and nieces and nephews, however, have loved these. I give a set of the books to each new little great-grandchild born, and to my grandchildren (my granddaughter has done the front cover illustrations). The one about Uncle Wayne, “My Big Brother Wayne and the Runaway Horses” is the “best seller.” He had six kids and many grandchildren, all of whom have purchased that book. That has sold about 65 books.

      I persuaded Mom to read two of them into Story Corps app and to talk a little bit about them. That process seemed to exhaust her, but I will try again in the Spring when I visit her. I still need to post those two entries to the larger Story Corps program.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. Back in the day, there were cloth diapers. My job as a three year old, was to rinse out my sister’s diapers in the toilet. Being just barely potty trained myself, this was a terrifying experience. I’ve never been too strong , and certainly was not at that age, so the battles with the toilet’s suction were epic. Dip repeatedly. Flush. Hanging on for dear life. Skip ahead twenty years and I arranged for a diaper service for The Daughter. In an effort to help those folks, I returned to diaper dipping. No suction problems. But a soaking wet cloth bag awaiting pickup, did not please those people. “DON’T WASH THE DIAPERS” read the note that came with the new week’s supply.

    Liked by 6 people

  3. I grew up in a house built in 1910 – a charming Arts and Crafts style home. The bathroom on the main floor had an old style lock on the door. The lock was notoriously sticky so mostly it remained unused. Until a new friend came to visit (or one of the friends with a larger family would forget)…and would lock the door. It was the sort of lock that used a skeleton key, and I have no memory of us ever having a key for the door. What I do remember is how grateful my dad was that the bathroom was on the main floor of the house, making it easier for him to get in through the window to rescue whoever had locked themselves in – at least once by having them go back out the way he had come in (and down the ladder) while he worked on the lock. The current house has the same sort of lock (house was built in 1925) and the door doesn’t quite close completely as old doors that have gone slightly off plumb sometimes do – which is fine by me, because if I had to rescue anyone from our bathroom the two-story climb would be a little hairier than the one my dad would take.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. The farmhouse Mom grew up in was never locked for the same reasons you site in your story–the keys were lost, and even if you could find them the door no longer lined up properly.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. My current bathroom has a door that doesn’t latch securely. It doesn’t bother me, but when my nieces were little they complained loudly, so I installed one of those little brass sliding bolt thingamajigs so that they could bolt it from the inside.


  4. When my dad was six his family experienced an economic emergency. They couldn’t afford to feed all the kids (three boys), so one was chosen to go live with a relative. The chosen one was my dad. He left Des Moines, a modern town with electricity, cars and indoor plumbing. His new home was Keosauqua, which lay in extreme southeastern Iowa. Keosauqua had more horses than cars, little electricity and almost no indoor plumbing.

    That left a mark on my dad. All through his life he delighted in telling stories about using the outhouse, sitting there reading a Sears and Roebuck “wish book,” then tearing off the pages he’d read to use them as TP. An artist who later studied human anatomy, Dad always said his first lessons in female anatomy came from that wish book, for its pages on ladies’ undergarments were extremely educational. Dad’s favorite joke was one he inevitably hauled out if someone mentioned a canopy over a bed. “In my day,” he’d inevitably say, “we kept the can o’ pee under the bed!”

    When my family bought our cabin on Lake Superior, my erstwife rediscovered the joys of chamber pots. Using one was vastly easier than descending a steep ladder from the sleeping loft, traipsing along a rocky path and sitting in our outhouse. The most exciting purchase we ever made, after getting the cabin, was a Styrofoam toilet seat that could be placed on the outhouse hole before sitting on it. Called the Cheekwarmer, it was warm on the skin on an icy morning.

    Liked by 6 people

  5. The only story (fit for print) I have is the one and only time I babysat anybody. It was my infant nephew. My wife was there (if I recall) but I had to change his diaper. I’m not sure what the kid had eaten that day, but pound for pound, it was the biggest, smelliest, gloppiest mess I’d ever seen come out of a single human being.

    I held my nose, swallowed the urge to vomit several times, and successfully changed the diaper. My wife related the anecdote to my sister (the mom) and a few days later she presented me with an award, sewn and drawn onto a (clean diaper) “For heroism and brave conduct above and beyond the call of duty…. etc., etc.”

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Early in my baby sitting career (I was likely 12 or 13) the next door neighbors hired my best friend and I to look after their two kids and some cousins who were visiting. The youngest was in diapers and apparently allergic to everything. We aren’t sure what the tot got into, but clearly something he ought not to have. Friend got the short end of the stick and was on diaper duty. I kept the other three young ‘uns downstairs and out of the way. I can still hear her voice ringing out from the upstairs exclaiming, “It’s greeeeeen!” 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    The outhouse in the book still existed until about 1966, being actively used the entire time. When the old farmhouse, sans indoor bathrooms, was torn down and a modern house built in its place, the old outhouse was torn down, too. The catalogues had been replaced by toilet paper by the time I came along–Grandma had finally been convinced she could afford this luxury.

    The chamber pots were still in use when I was a child, as well. That was an incredible novelty for me! However, in the winter it was vastly preferable to a trip in the middle of the cold night to the outhouse.

    The hand pump and well, which stood near the the windmill, was also of great interest to me. However, the adults lived in fear of a child falling in the well. The well was sealed off and the hand pump removed when I was quite small.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Yeah, my mother’s parents had an old pump outside the kitchen that I could play with as a kid when we visited them. Pumping water seems romantic when you know it that way. Actually pumping all your water and lugging it into the home is something else.

    I’ve just written a guest blog. Will mail it today.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hey, Steve, I took your recommendation about Happy Valley (England, not Oregon) and watched the pilot yesterday. Excellent. We do have similar tastes in viewing material. Unfortunately, there are only 12 episodes which is limited binge-watching material, unlike Nashville.

      Thanks for the recommendation!


  8. – Dad and friends tipping outhouses on Halloween
    – 3-seater at mom-in-law’s family farm, a blessing during large family reunions
    – Joel’s version, when he was learning to talk, of “split pea soup” was ‘plit pea poop. (He was ‘piderman for Halloween that year.)

    When I was still fairly new to Husband’s family, I went to the Christmas blow-out at B & R’s. R was quite the practical joker, and also loved all manner of new gadgets. Upon finding the bathroom for the first time, and kind of glad to get away from the noise level, I sat down to a loud voice behind the toilet saying something like “Hey, we’re workin’ down here!” Practically jumped out of my skin – I had to be a good sport, but I didn’t really trust R again for a long while.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Morning all! We actually have TWO potty stories but they are YA’s stories, so I probably shouldn’t share them here without her permission. I’ll ask her when she gets home from the gym.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. We did not get indoor plumbing until I was 11 or 12. We did use a thunder pot during the night. My father being as he was built a very good outhouse near our house. Very tight. Cement floor. Brick throne with a modern toilet seat. Properly vented. Still a trial in the winter.
    Once we get indoor plumbing, We used if we were outdoors. Much easier especially if your shoes/boots were dirty. It was my job to keep it clean. Swept it out twice a week. Mopped it every couple of weeks. Oddly, it is still there, the only solid building left, unless they took it out last year or this year.
    My parents wanted to keep the outdoor pump but it could not be done and use the well as the source for water in the plumbing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OT: Sandy had her surgery yesterday. Took four hours. He had trouble getting the crystals where she could feel them when they were on. But all went well. She has some pain. Not bad. Sleeping now. Now we see if it does its job.

      Liked by 6 people

  11. As some Baboons will remember, my Lake Superior cabin had no running water. The joke was that it did, for we “ran to town” to get water. All our water came from a free flowing artesian well located on a beach in town. We’d fill 5-gallon plastic jugs with water and bring it back to the cabin. That makes one reluctant to do anything that “wastes” water, and I hated to use water to rinse dirty dishes. Living at the cabin sure made us appreciate such common things as hot and cold water from a sink and (best of all) showers.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. We used a diaper service for son when we lived in Indiana. Daughter had to have disposables, as no such thing as a diaper service in our current town.

    I am somewhat of an expert in the treatment of encopresis, which is a strange specialty to have. Encopresis is a childhood disorder in which children refuse to poop in the toilet. They poop elsewhere, or else try to not poop at all, which leads to some health issues. The causes are myriad, but I am happy to report that sooner or later, everyone I see has successful potty experiences.

    Liked by 4 people

  13. My mother’s parents had an outhouse and a pump next to the kitchen sink. We’d visit there in the summer when I was a kid. We were never there in winter, when the outhouse would have been more of a challenge.

    When I was a teenager I bought an enamelware chamber pot at a garage, and my mother was rather amused that I would want such a thing. To me it was sort of quaint, but for her it was a symbol of times of hardship.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. While a student at SIU, I befriended an elderly woman who lived in a house right behind us. Mrs. Renfro was the matriarch of a well-established furniture store in town. I’d usually visit her a couple of times a week just to chat, and she was forever trying to give me small gifts of things she wanted to get rid of. I still have a very warm but rather worn old pink wool blanket and a very heavy, chipped porcelain chamber pot. At my house, the latter was turned into a planter. It’s around her somewhere, still.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Wow, Clyde, I did not mean that quite in that way. Nothing like Sandy’s Fairie Garden living in a toilet.

          I hope she is recovering well from her procedure, and that the procedure produces desired results.


  14. Sandy’s Cities friends have never gotten over the fact that she liked camping because of the pit toilet issue. We preferred camping in more rustic campgrounds. Yes, even her.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. that was a precursor to a terrible series of events
          hope 2017 is an upper
          i have said many times some of lifes best lessons come from seeing how not to do it
          2017 will be a rich rich year


        2. Thanks, Wes. How quickly we forget. I remember you telling us it was a suicide. I think suicides are particularly painful. Those of us who remain think we could have, should have, somehow prevented it. Most of the survivors of suicides that I know, and there are several (siblings, parents, spouses), struggle for years and years.


      1. Me too. It seemed like a very difficult year in many ways for many people.

        The cherry on top of this horrible sundae is Princess Leia and the Unsinkable Molly Brown dying in two consecutive days.

        There is a new podcast by John Moe which is excellent. “The Hilarious World of Depression” is the name. He starts the podcast by interviewing Peter Sagal of “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me.” It turns out he has experienced some level of depression most of his life. The goal of the podcast is education, validation, and laughter about this grim topic. Check it out! I think it would make Princess Leia, AKA Carrie Fischer proud.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. I’d do it myself except for the requirement that you have to be able to stand for extended periods of time. My lower back won’t allow me to do that. But I’d sure love to be part of working out the kinks of a professional production of anything, and ticket for the final dress rehearsal would sure make it worth it, especially when you consider how close I live to the Ordway. Why didn’t I know about this five years ago?

      Liked by 2 people

  15. i dont have any good potty stories. we went out visiting relatives in northdakota late 50’s farmsteads with outhouses that i remember but other than that im a city slicker, my eden prairie house had some sewer issues and i found ot it cost 500 each time the honey wagon had to come for a collection so there were a couple of occasions where a quick trip to the store for a waste pump and a hose to the trech behind the pines out of downwind neighbors paths was used buut that was years ago. the statute of limitations has long since run out

    jacque i love this story and the easy way it takes s back, when i was a kid stories about the olden days when my grandparents were kids was my dads favorite pastimes. i do the same with my daughters who are end of the line for my ramblings. older sibs have heard and moved on. but most of it took. i hear the stories come back in a pretty accurate retelling . makes me proud.

    i have one son like chris who gaks at the sight of poop and has only done it in the case of emergency. i remember one time we left him with the dogs and they got into something and had the runs all over the basement carpet. he had to clean it up becase we were not back for 2 or 3 more days. he wouldc gak and choke while cleaning up ( he is a clean freak) and then on the way to get rid of the load hed puke all over the carpet and have to clean that p but he couldnt do it immediately he had to wait to get p his courage and before bed he would get to it and by then his new stomach had something in it to puke again. a never ending story of gak and puke. seems like a logical successor for the rennasance festival but he is kind of a one trick pony

    Liked by 2 people

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