It used to be that Wednesday was Prince Spaghetti Day. Judging from what’s missing on the shelves at the Hannaford I go to, every day is Prince Spaghetti Day. Not a box to be found. Take toilet paper, don’t bother, it’s all been taken. I wonder what this says about our society. If you find out, let me know.

When I was a little girl, I used to visit my grandmother at her cottage on Watchic Lake in Standish. The cottage was built by Grammy’s second husband, Orville T. Hodsdon, or “Hodge,” as he was called. My grandmother was completely deaf. This happened when she was 12, from measles.

At a very early age I knew that my mother and her mother did not see eye to eye. However, Grammy and I did agree on things and communicated just fine.

The cottage on the lake came with an outhouse, also built by Hodge. This type of country bathroom was completely new to me, a kid from the big city of Portland. I had never seen anything like it. At least not in real life.

Apparently people were supposed to use this structure, which had two holes on a low shelf, as one would use a toilet. The inside of this chamber was decorated with postcards and flies. There was a half moon cut out in the door: a door with no lock that could swing open at any time. Then there was the possibility of having to navigate the path to the outhouse at night, should the need arise. There would be animals out there, nocturnal predators. Snakes.

And where was the toilet paper? In the cottage, I supposed, safe from creatures that might rip it to shreds. There was lots of reading material strewn about, including a huge Sears-Roebuck catalog. Apparently some folks so loved items they saw inside, that they ripped the pages right out!

Another disgusting necessity in the outhouse was a pail with some kind of caustic material that was supposed to be sprinkled into the holes after each use. The skull and crossbones on container gave me the creeps and I ran out of that outhouse as fast as I could and never went back.

By the time the U.S. Army returned my family and me from Germany in 1948, Hodge had installed a real bathroom inside the cottage. Yes, now I would stay the night, the weekend or as long as Grammy wanted me.

After inspecting the new porcelain loveliness, I told Hodge it was nice that the toilet paper was actually in the bathroom and not kept somewhere else, like when they used the outhouse.

“Didn’t you see the Sears catalog?” he asked.

“Yes, I saw the huge catalog with the pages ripped out. Hard to miss.”

“Well, what did you think that was for, Miss Sally?”


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