with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Enter the Modern Honey Bucket

Growing up in a hunting and fishing family, we had a “yellow bucket” everywhere we went, in the trailer, camper, boat, or car. It might have at one time been a real yellow bucket, but it’s shape and form changed over the years from buckets to coffee cans to whatever was available and portable. In ancient times these were also known as the chamber pot. It basically consisted of either a regular bucket that could be washed, or a sealable lid like found on newer coffee tins. And yes, like the chamber pot, you can assume what we did with our version of the yellow bucket.

No matter what you do, if you are away from the comfort of a toilet for more than 4 hours, you are probably going to be in need of one. Over a life time of travel, I’ve seen more than my fair share of “yellow buckets” from an uncomfortable squat behind the bushes to fashionable, self-cleaning public bathrooms in Prague and London.

I was delighted when someone was finally brave enough to “tackle the issue” in the wonderful book How to Shit in the Woods. From the very first page I was in hysterics, recalling many a fond and nightmare memory of peeing in the woods.

Probably the most memorable was when I and my best friend’s family were on a long trip to the Washington Coast beaches for a day spent flying kites in the famous Long Island International Kite Festival. Little Eric, just graduated from high school but then about 6 or 7 years old, had to “go”. We pulled into a rest stop along the highway to be greeted by two “honey buckets”. You know the type. The plastic walled out house usually absent of toilet paper.

Susan handed him some toilet paper and after his initial refusal to go near something so smelly and nasty, Eric put on a brave face and went solo around the corner and into the port-a-potty.

A minute later he was back. His father turned him around and pushed him back towards the out house.

“Dad, I can’t go.”

“Be a big boy. Yes, you can.”

“No, Dad I can’t gooooo.”

“I know it’s smelly. Just hold your breath and go.”

“Daaaaaa’aaad. You don’t understand! I-can’t-GO!”

“Eric, you can do this. It’s okay.”

“Dad, I can’t GO!”

Always the patient father, David took his hand and said all the right reassuring things to his son and walked him down the slight incline to the port-a-potty, insisting that he be brave and GO.

A minute later the two were back.

“He’s right. He can’t go.”

The three of us looked at him in wonder.

David finally cracked into laughter and explained that the thing had not been dumped or cleaned in ages and the shit was piled high, a mountain above the seat, from previous visitors, so there was no “going” in there for a little kid. Eric was right. He just couldn’t go with those overwhelming obstacles.

So the two wondered off into the woods together, returning not long later with a report that the woods were FILLED white crumpled up toliet paper remains.

“Wow, I lot of other people couldn’t go either,” Eric announced.

Recently, I spotted a press release that caught my eye. New Comfort Station Relieves Fear of Portable Toilets. While I don’t have a fear of portable toilets, as mentioned, I have a vast experience with them, so I was curious. After all, how do you modernize a portable yellow bucket?

According to the press release, the founder of “Here’s Johnny” and the “Comfort Station”, Porta-John Systems, Inc., introduces a “luxurious modern portable toilet” with a fresh water flushing system that has no steps, and no chemicals.

In fact, it is just like home, sometimes better.

A simple garden hose hookup is needed for the fresh water source. The waste is delivered to large outside holding tanks, a septic field or a sewer.

The Comfort Station is roomy, has ceramic fixtures – sink, toilet and is equipped with soap, hand towels, toilet tissue, a wastebasket, a coat/purse hook, and even a mirror. They are sold, rented, and even paid for by the public.

Generally, people pay USD$1.00 to use these modern, clean, and roomy restrooms (not called portable out houses any more!) and they are more than willing to do so in order to avoid the messy, smelly, and vile older porta-a-potties of old.

They say you can’t build a better mouse trap, but wow, you can build a better yellow bucket.

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