#Timespast Washroom stories



Irene Water’s prompt for June is washroom stories. The rules are as follows: Please join in giving your location at the time of your memory and  your generation. An explanation of the generations and the purpose of the prompts along with conditions for joining in can be seen at the Times Past Page. Join in either in the comments or by creating your own post and linking.

You can join in this challenge here: https://irenewaters19.com/2019/06/05/washroom-stories-times-past/

I have no idea what my generation is but I was a teenager during the 80s and 90s. I grew up in South Africa and attended a local high school in Johannesburg. The worst memory I have of my school days is the awful toilets. The floors were concrete and for some reason the toilets always leaked and there were puddles of water on the floor. I can remember trying to avoid those puddles and looking for a toilet that wasn’t leaking. I still have nightmares about those bathrooms.

I have always been an anxious person and my anxiety presents itself as a frequent need to pee. My family moved to Johannesburg when I finished my primary school career and I was enrolled in a large high school in our area. There were 300 children, comprising of 10 classes of 30 teenagers, in my year. The total number of pupils in the school was 1 400. That was quite overwhelming for a girl coming from a small town in the Western Cape and a convent into the bargain. I had lived a sheltered life up until I started high school.

I was so anxious and overwhelmed during my first weeks of school that I felt as if I need to go to the toilet all the time. My mother took me to the doctor and she gave me a bladder cleanser which didn’t help at all. An anti anxiety pill would have been more useful but they didn’t give those out when I was young as easily as they do today. I remember quickly slipping to the toilet in between each and every class and hoping that no-one would notice. Of course, a few mean kids did notice but fortunately for me, I wasn’t teased much about it.

Once I had settled down, everything was fine and I didn’t have this problem again although I always go to the bathroom before a meeting or if I have to present training or appear on television.

I thought I would also share this extract from my mom’s life as a small girl growing up in Bungay, Suffolk in the UK during WWII. It tells of her experiences with toilets when she first started school:

“The visit to the toilet stood out in Elsie’s mind as the only unpleasant experience of the school day.

The toilet block comprised of a row of toilet cubicles behind a screening brick wall. The passage in front of the cubicles did not have a roof or covering although the actual cubicles did.

The cubicles did not have doors, and a terrible smell of wee came from the toilets. Puddles of water pooled on the floor from leaky pipes. Elsie negotiated these as best she could, trying not to step into any of them. None of the toilets flushed properly. The smell made her gag, and she held her breath for as long as possible between gulps of air.

Elsie thought the school toilets were worse than her Aunt Mick’s. Ginger-haired Aunt Mick always looked tired and had a wary expression on her face. She was married to Father’s oldest brother, Charlie, a bad tempered and grumpy man, who had been exempted from being enlisted to fight in the war due to his status as a hay merchant.

Although Uncle Charlie owned the bit of land on which his bungalow and huge hay shed stood, they did not have a flushing toilet on their property. Aunt Mick and her family made use of a foul-smelling outhouse with a bucket system which was not emptied often enough.

Mother visited Aunt Mick frequently and would sit and chat to her while she did some sewing on her ancient sewing machine.

As a small girl, Elsie struggled with a weak bladder. She needed to go to the toilet more often than other children of the same age. Later in her life, clever doctors discovered that Elsie’s narrow urethrae prevented her bladder from emptying fully when she went to the toilet. This condition also made her prone to bladder infections.

The awfulness of the school toilets gave Elsie nightmares for years and resulted in a fear of public toilets that lasted for the rest of her life.”


46 thoughts on “#Timespast Washroom stories

  1. In Canada, the school washrooms were always clean, although they smelt of Pinesol, which is what they used to clean them in those days. But at home, we just had an outdoor toilet which I hated. We also had a chemical toilet in the cellar for if we had to go in the middle of the night which was just as bad as you never knew what was down there. So I would hold it until I got to school which is very unhealthy. I couldn’t wait to finish school and move to the city where everyone had proper bathrooms. BTW you are Generation X, just like my children. You guys rock!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jill. I would love to avoid public toilets, but being a lady who has to pee often, it is usually unavoidable. I don’t sit on public toilets though and I try not to touch anything.


      1. You have one on me. The only time I visited a woman’s bathroom was when I went through the wrong door. Didn’t stay long enough to assess the situation. When the kids were young they went into the men’s room with me if they had to use the facilities. Yes, I carried sanitary wipes.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What a toilet story. I hate public washrooms but must use them at times. Those school toilet in your country sounds like a horrifying experience, Robbie. I really enjoyed reading this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have really bad memories of our school toilets, Helene. Public toilets in our shopping centres are usually very clean and pleasant. I recall with horror the toilets I had to use on occasion when Terence and I were in Italy. I preferred to go behind a tree if I had too. The toilets in the UK are generally pretty good, but they are few and far between in London.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. The public toilets in the shopping centres are usually clean and quite nice, Tandy. I never use public toilets at beaches, I’ll rather go into a restaurant and pay for coffee if I need the loo.


  3. Toilet stories and in India also those days they were worse and I could not stand dirty toilets at all, they were awful. Nice to know that today everything is not that bad but only when we have to travel to far off places for ladies it is yet not very good but bearable. Really liked the way you put it, Robbie.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Kamal. I have not been to India yet, but that is good to know. The toilets in France were not very good when I was their either, unless I paid and then they were better. I spent a lot of money on going to the loo during that holiday.


  4. I agree about school toilets, Robbie. They are the pits. Public toilets are often not much better and sometimes worse. I am constantly amazed (not in a good way) at the state in which people leave toilets. I can’t believe they would want to use them that way, so why do they leave them like that for everybody else?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a strange thing, Norah, how dirty people are with public and school toilets. Our toilets at work are often not pleasant either and our poor cleaning ladies have complained the women throw everything from hair pieces to underwear down the toilets and block them. This in a professional company, it is bizarre.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Our restrooms in school weren’t bad…if the door worked or was there. Not a fan of public restrooms but with my issues I visit them way too often. My husband is always amazed at the stories of the condition of them when I share my finding with him. Outhouses are the worst.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fortunately, I have never had to use an outhouse other than when on holiday in Italy and then only once. I also have to use public bathrooms frequently as I have a weak bladder. I carry hand sanitizer and wet wipes in my handbag.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t remember school toilets as being too bad, although I always went to small schools rather than huge places until university. Bad as a child, I remember visiting my father’s little village, and although my grandparents’ place was OK, on the way there (the trip was fairly long) we found all kinds of places, and plenty of those holes on the floor… (I recently visited Florence and saw one of those in a museum…). Not sitting on them either… What memories! Thanks, Robbie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can imagine that Spain had some outdated facilities when you were younger, Olga, the same as Italy. The facilities in South Africa are a mixed bag depending on where you are. We did go to one tourist attraction in the UK which had chemical toilets that hadn’t been cleaned EVER!


  7. My mother terrified me by sharing a time she went to the school bathroom and encountered a rat in the toilet. I guess somehow it had swum up from the sewer. Needless to say, I was very leery of toilets after that.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m with you on the anxiety front, Robbie. Public and school toilets…not good, though they have improved since I was at school in the sixties/seventies. The worse thing I remember is that awful waxy loo paper like greaseproof…no good at all. I think a good few of us are traumatised by such toilet memories!

    Liked by 1 person

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