Four-Year-Old Girl Stuck In Outhouse

Lefty Graves

** This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by my mother-in-law, who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.

A woman recently required assistance getting out of an outhouse. Unfortunately, she had fallen into the pit toilet when she went after her phone. Personally, I think I would have let my phone go rather than go into the muck after my cell phone, but apparently, it was an essential accessory to this woman. Thankfully she was able to retrieve her phone and call for some help to get out of her predicament. My mother-in-law and I were talking about this recently when she shared her own outhouse story with me.

My mother-in-law grew up using an outhouse. In the mid-1930s, she was about four years old when she needed to use the outhouse. Her mother and father had given her strict instructions that it was necessary to always have a grownup with her when she used the outhouse. At four years of age, she was pretty small compared to the large hole used as a seat, and they didn't want her to fall into the outhouse hole.

On this particular afternoon, her father was busy with a farm sale, and her mother was in the garden when she approached her mother to tell her that she "had to go." Her mother was in the middle of the garden and asked her if she could wait for a few minutes.

My poor mother-in-law tried to wait, but as she had already waited far too long, it was "time to go," and that meant "NOW." So my mother-in-law went to the outhouse alone. Everything was going fine as she pulled her underwear down and stretched her little legs to climb up on the big seat.

Just as she settled herself onto the seat, she lost her grip and fell behind first into the depths of the outhouse. She grabbed the seat with her hands as she began to slip through the hole, and with her toes, she hung on tightly to the other section of the hole that doubled as a seat.

She began to scream, and while it seemed like it took forever at the time, it was actually only about five minutes before her mother, father, and the neighbor came running to her aid. Her mother reached her first and quickly righted her daughter, who by now no longer needed to use the outhouse.

While she did receive a gentle scolding on "this is why you need to wait for a grownup to take you to the outhouse," she was none the worse for wear. Her father quickly remedied the situation by building a smaller seat she could easily sit upon for future use.

I laughed as I listened to my mother-in-law's story. She was laughing as well. Then I asked her if she would have gone in after her phone as the woman that we had been discussing did. My mother-in-law said definitely not. Would you have gone in for your phone?

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Lefty has been writing online since 2000 on various topics, including youth mentoring, addiction, parenting, gardening, advocating for seniors, sustainability, farming & more. She resides on a farm with her family in Northeastern Washington state.

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