Going to the Basement

In 1939 I started to school in a brand new building, Fayetteville Grammar School, across the street from where I lived. The old school had burned the year before and they had built a new school on the same site. The old school had been a two story building with restrooms in the basement. Two things that country children knew nothing about were restrooms and basements. Only a few prominent families in Fayetteville had inside plumbing and only one house had a basement. The only place most children had seen an inside toilet or a basement was at school and “toilet” and “basement” became synonymous.

The new school had only one floor and the restrooms were no longer in the basement, but I soon found out, watching the older kids, that if you wished to go to the restroom, you should hold up your hand and ask, “May I go to the basement?” I was almost in high school before I learned that going to the basement was not the same as going to the restroom.

These days, most buildings have inside plumbing and many of them have basements. I have a basement in my home but most of the time I use the upstairs.