The Goodyear Service Pin used in our logo is courtesy Jerry Bell. The pin belonged to his dad, Adolphus. R. Bell.

18 January, 2011

Talented Tuesday: The Toilet

J. E. "Paw Paw" Tumlin is an ATCO Kid.

He has begun writing his story for his children and grandchildren, because he, like the rest of us, wants them to know who he is and all about his life. He, like many other ATCO Kids, is talented. He has been gifted with a beautiful writing ability. With permission we are so happy to highlight his writings from time to time on our blog.
"I was born in ATCO Ga. on May 19, 1929. Paw‑-Paw was born at home. I spent my first night in the hospital, as a patient, July 5, 1992 (I am blessed). Atco was a cotton mill village, owned by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. The company owned the whole village, this included houses, streets, street lights, etc. They owned and operated the only store in the village. The post office was located in the company store. The company owned and operated the grammar school. To live in the village, one or more of the parents had to be employed by Goodyear.
I attended grades 1‑-7 at this school. I graduated from Cassville High School (grades 8‑-11) in 1946. Cass was a County school. The village was a clean, neat place to live. The rent was 25 cents per room per week. We had a 3 room house, so 75 cents was deducted from one of my parent's pay each week. The company painted the houses, cut the grass, hauled off the trash, swept the streets, maintained the village swimming pool, etc.
The village was divided into two sections, the new village and the old village. The new village portion had been built in more recent years. This was the good side of the track. In most instances, you had to be salaried or a member of management in order to live in this section. All of these houses had bathrooms inside the house. They contained a commode, bathtub and a lavatory. There was also a sink in the kitchen. There were wall receptacles in each room. The water for the sink and bath was heated by a small coal fired "laundry heater".
On the other side of the track, in the old village where we lived, things were quite different. Behind each of our houses, was a "wood house". It was approximately 20 feet wide and 40 feet long. There was a partition dividing the building in two 20 X 20 sections. There were doors on both sides of the building and we used one section and our neighbor, directly behind us, used the other section. Of course, the building was not sealed. From the inside you could see the undressed studs and ceiling joists. In the corner was a room approximately 5 feet by 5 feet. This is where the commode was. To use the commode we had to walk about 20 yards from the house. This was night or day, rain or shine, hot or cold. There was no running water in the house. The hydrant was about half way between the house and the toilet.
The houses had been wired for electricity long after they had been built. There was one light receptacle in each room. It was suspended about 3 feet from the ceiling by the electric cord in the middle of the room. There were no wall receptacles. When mother would iron, she had to plug her iron into this one receptacle. In my mind's eye I can see mother ironing. The ironing cord is suspended from the ceiling in the middle of the kitchen. The wooden ironing board is resting on the back of two straight chairs and mother has a "dip" of snuff in her mouth. (Dipping snuff was quite fashionable in the village at that time.) I can still smell the heat from her iron. The price of the electricity was included in the rent. All electric wires were underground.
The purpose for the wood house was to store the firewood for the cookstove and coal for the fireplace. To us kids, this was an ideal playhouse. On this one particular hot summer day, my buddies and I were playing there. We were climbing on the exposed ceiling joists which were approximately 10 feet above the dirt floor. The best place to climb up and down was in the toilet room. I don't remember whether I was going up or down but I slipped and fell. My foot went down into the commode and it stuck. Of course, I was bare footed. (We wore shoes only 3 or 4 months of the year. When I was in the third grade, it was almost Christmas and my folks had not been able to buy me any shoes. A lady from the State Welfare Agency took me to town and bought me a pair. This hurt my dad's pride and almost broke his heart.) The commode is shaped like a funnel. The P‑-trap, which is now an integral part of our modern day commodes, was simply leaded to the bottom of the commode by the plumber at installation time. My foot had gone down into the P‑-trap and made the turn.
Of course, I tried to pull my foot out but it remained stuck. My buddies tried to help pull me out but all they did was cause my foot to hurt. This probably caused my foot to swell. Mrs. Julie Crocker, the lady whose wood house we are in, is informed and she brings a fruit jar with some warm lard. This was poured into the commode and the pulling resumed. I'm beginning to get scared. I begin to cry.
In a small village such as this, every one knows every one else. The word gets out that a boy has his foot hung in a commode and a crowd begins to assemble. In fact, before they get me out, the 4:00 PM shift change occurs at the mill and practically the whole day shift gathers in the yard.
The company plumber arrives and assesses the situation. The first thing I hear him say is "we will flush him down the commode and catch him at the creek". Now, I know where the sewage enters the creek. I believe that they will actually flush me down the commode. I am in panic.
It is blistering hot in this small room. Since the building was not sealed, they simply knocked the weather boarding off the wall. Now all the spectators can see me. They then rip up the flooring and begin to cut the cast iron pipe in front of my foot with a cold chisel. After this, they disconnect the water line and bring me and the commode out into the yard. I don't remember any applause, but if this were to happen today, I'm sure there would be some. I might even be invited to appear on TV. I am still a prisoner of the commode. Using the cold chisel, they begin to cut the cast iron pipe from around my foot and ankle. To protect my foot and ankle from injury, Mr. Amos Morrow, a spectator, inserts his hands between my foot and the pipe and his hands absorbs the impact. (This is the same Mr. Morrow whose daughter Francis is former Governor Joe Frank Harris's mother).
I am finally released from the commode. The crowd leaves. My mother has arrived and we go home. I don't remember whether I was patted on the head or the behind when we got home. (It was probably the latter). In a couple of weeks the only sign of my dilemma is the new siding on the wood house and the new boards on the toilet floor. But since this is a small town, no one has ever forgotten. Even though this has been more than 50 years ago, I am still often reminded of the event by someone who was there or who heard about it. You can't imagine the nick-names I've been called since then. Someone once said that it takes a whole village to raise a child. This was definitely true in my case."
PAW‑-PAW 9/8/94


  1. I enjoyed this story and look forward to reading more. I knew about outhouses, but did had never heard of an outside commode.

  2. This is one of the best tales I have heard in a while.

  3. What a hoot! And what a way to become a local celebrity.

    Great story.


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ATCO, Georgia, The Village by Yvonne Mashburn Schmidt and ATCO Kids, Individually, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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