It is only fair, I think, having given three columns over to the postcards which celebrated the nostalgic days of the outhouse, to point out that modern indoor facilities gave postcard cartoonists a chance to express their world views. You have enough faith in humanity, I hope, to believe that potty humor does not end at the wooden walls of the little house out back.
Of course, there are certain themes which do not change depending on the location of the potty. The dilemma depicted in the postcard at the top of this column can be found in worlds we discussed in earlier blogs.
Or even earlier blogs than that.
And we have a few postcards which mention the temptation to sit and read that old catalog in the outhouse, you need to go to the modern age to find a direct cartoon reference to it.
“Modern age” is relative, of course. This card is about twenty years older than the gas station one, and is now a century old, and we find the habit already being blamed on boys. (This, by the way, is the only bathtub postcard in today’s effusion of wit. The bathtub has its own literature and line of cards. The whole association of bathtubs and toilets is probably a modern invention, brought on by the need to run plumbing to both. In the days before indoor plumbing, a lot of people bathed in the kitchen, since that was the place to heat the water. Single men who did not have access to a handy kitchen for this person could often buy a bath at the barbershop, which had a back room for that, and a tub of water which was changed, oh, once a day. This made sense in some towns…I guess what this all boils down to is that one of these days, this blog is going back into the bathroom. You have something to look forward to.)
And though I could not find a postcard which dealt with this problem in a modern public restroom, we all know that the problem continues into the twenty-first century (though a great deal of graffiti has now been shifted to twitter.)
But new ways bring new problems, and I can’t imagine the whole domestic situation discussed here existed in the days of the hole cut in the plank.
And this sitcom situation could simply not have happened in the days of the house out back. (For that matter, it could not have been shown on a sitcom in the days when this postcard was new. Anybody here old enough to remember the early 70s, when the sound of a toilet flushing on a sitcom was a national scandal?)
And though there were experiments with it in the days of the outhouse, the modern pay toilet really did not exist before the potty moved indoors.
As soon as such a thing existed, of course, the ethnic jokes were unavoidable.
Establishments which served a large number of the general public saw the benefit of the public restroom—free or tollbearing—immediately. If customers didn’t have to leave to find a potty, they could stay and shop more. Though, of course, this created its own problems.
Children, being of much the same nature in any age, caused the same difficulties either way.
Although the new technology was dealing with traditional body functions, and thus produced cartoons having much in common with earlier examples, the new indoor toilet did create new jokes as well. If nothing in these columns has made you yearn for the days of the little house out back, reflect that in those days THIS classic cartoon would never have existed.
2 thoughts on “Going to Town”
Thank you for sharing your bathroom humor postcards. I remember the 70s where the flush of a toilet on television was a no-no. It was also against the rules for Lucy an Ricky to sleep in the same bed.
There was also an educational film of the 70s attacked for, among other things, including a scene of two men gossiping while standing next to each other at adjacent urinals. THAT wasn’t the cause of the complaint. the complaint was, that if you LISTENED VERY CAREFULLY, you could hear one man zipping his fly. And how many years later were Ally and her friends using co-ed bathrooms?