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Wednesday, 01 September 2010


By Johna Ferguson

After my best friend Gen played the straw trick on me, I decided I just had to get back at her some way for she was coming to my beach to spend a couple weeks while her parents were traveling.

Our beach places are completely different. Hers is a huge year-round house situated half-way up a hill from the water and half-way down from the road. But at my beach, our house was just a summer cabin right on the water. The water even came under it on the highest tides.

Sure we had three bedrooms like hers, but one was at the end of the back outside porch with a double bed and a dutch door, top half only screened to keep out the mosquitoes. The inside one was my parents but the walls went only to two feet from the ceiling so everyone could hear my dad snore, and the third one was on a sleeping porch at the end of the front porch with lots of huge windows but only a curtain to the living room. Therefore none of the bedrooms offered real privacy. Gen and I slept in the back porch one.

We didn’t have a bathroom like at Gen’s with a tub, flush toilet and sink with hot water. All we had was a cold water sink hung on one wall of the huge living room. We did have an enclosed cold water shower on the back porch, mainly to get the salt off after swimming. But to go to the bathroom, one had to go down six wooden steps at the end of the back porch, walk on a dirt path behind the house and then cross a plank bridge over a stream and climb five stairs to our WPA built outhouse.

It only had one hole, but with a nicely finished smooth cedar seat. My mother, with her green thumb planted ivy around it so it was completely covered with that luxurious growth - a wonderful place for spiders and mice to hide. I knew from previous visits that Gen hated spiders of any kind.

One morning, very early Gen shook me awake saying, “Jo, I have to go pee quickly.”

I asked her why didn’t she just go but she said she was too afraid to go alone. I turned to go back to sleep and she told me in her urgent voice that she would just wet the bed then.

I knew my mother would be really upset, so we got up. The only problem being the tide was high and the path behind the house was foot deep in water as was the little bridge we had to cross, but luckily it had wooden railings.

We held our nighties high and finally got to the door of the outhouse. Of course no lights, but there was a flashlight on a shelf. Gen insisted I go in and check the hole and surrounding areas for spiders. I put my foot down and said I wouldn’t do that; she could just stand there and pee on the steps for I remembered her little straw trick. I knew she wouldn’t do that, so I went down the stairs and just waited.

Finally, very gingerly she took the flashlight and went in, but she refused to close the door since there were no windows and it was very dark in there. Lucky for her there were no spiders nearby for they built their webs up near the roof where there were air vents.

After she finished I asked if everything was okay, and she replied with a quiver in her voice she thought from then on she could manage it by herself. So I’ve somewhat gotten over my fear of crabs and she of spiders. Isn’t that what friendship is all about?

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


I don't know, Johna, I think, with "water over the bridge" like it was, I would have just peed in the water--even now, and certainly as a little girl. Many's the time, when playing in the woods and fields.......

I loved your story about a time gone by. I wonder how many young people today have ever used an outhouse. Come to think of it, I don't think I have - just those porta potties at music festivals and craft fairs.

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