Frank Granieri – Remembering the “Backhouse”

Frank Granieri 

Remembering the “Backhouse”

Frank’s Thoughts on Growin’ Up Italian

If you grew up in the 50’s in an Italian family you will remember the word “Backhouse”. Why? Because all of the Italian immigrants that came to America shared the same problem. No indoor plumbing and large families.

The term “Backhouse” was used to describe the outhouse behind the main house…. or …. “Backhouse”.


My grandparents on my Dad’s side had a house in Willow Grove Pa. My grandfather built the house along with a number of his paesani from Maida Calabria the town in southern Italy that the migrated from. The house was large enough to house himself, his wife my grandmother Madelena along with their 11 children. Which in today’s world seems like a huge family but when you throw in the fact that they had no indoor plumbing except or the well pump in the kitchen … well…. the story takes on a whole different dimension.

If you think about it. Each person would have to use the bathroom at least twice a day especially when you consider the fact that there were 6 girls and 5 boys using the same outside toilet during all seasons. From Summer to Winter and back again.

My dad told me that he and his brothers used to climb out onto the roof to urinate in the winter rather than get dressed, walk down in the snow just to use the “Backhouse”. What a thought….!


So it is with that in mind that I thought I would bring this subject up for consideration. We are so far removed from that here in the 21st century that it seems like eons ago that this was the norm. But when you think about it we are only talking about maybe 75 summers ago.  Not that long ago.

Anyway it just makes me smile when I think of my Dad and how he explained it to me.

Take a moment and laugh as I bring up the subject in our video below.

Video Below


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