A school restroom, at least in the Stoughton area. Pete Costello recalls: "The lavatories in all the schools I went to grades 1-12 were called 'the basement,' even if they were not on the lowest floor of the school."
Learned this in Walpole in the 50's. When I moved west, people didn't want me in their basements when I asked, especially when they found out what I wanted to to there.
I learned to never bring up this type of bowling when out of Mass. It takes too long to explain and they think I'm wicked weird.
My father is used to this cause the bathrooms in schools in Brockton were in the basement.
I went to elementary school in JP and Hyde Park and we only used the word "basement", even when it was on the second floor. When I moved to Hingham I asked to go to the basement on the first day and the class laughed at me. I still remember...
I learned this term from the elementary school I attended in Somerville from K to 4th grade. It was an old, small, early 1900's brick school and its only student bathrooms were in the basement of the building. I can still picture it -- the row of stalls with old metal "Bethlehem Steel Co." doors and walls on one side, and the row of old porcelain sinks on the other. Oh, and can't forget the "one, sandpaper-textured, sheet of paper at a time" toilet paper dispensers!
This is another one of those terms that is more regional northeast than exclusively Boston or even New England. In the 50s in my Schenectady NY elementary school, asking for permission to go to the basement was asking for permission to leave the classroom to use the toilets.
I went to elementary school in Boston and Quincy. In Quincy we said basement for bathroom even though they were on the 2nd and 3rd floors. When I went to middle school in Quincy, nobody called it the basement anymore. I wonder if they still call it the basement now?
We called them basements when I went to public school in the early 70s, when I transferred to catholic school, they were lavs (short for lavertory). My son's teacher, brilliant but old-school, sent the students to the "basement" on the first day of school, my child went to the basement of the school, not knowing "basement" meant bathroom. A passing teacher spied him and set him straight.
We called them basements when I went to public school in the early 70s, when I transferred to catholic school, they were lavs (short for lavatory). My son's teacher, brilliant but old-school, sent the students to the "basement" on the first day of school, my child went to the basement of the school, not knowing "basement" meant bathroom. A passing teacher spied him and set him straight.
they used this term in my grammar school in the early 90's in worcester. i had totally forgotten about it because the term was abadoned by middle school. hilarious.
Died laughing when i read this one. Forgot all about it. Now thinking about it, it seems so normal to say basement. Schooled in St.Peter's in Southie.
As for me, the american way of calling toilet - "bathroom" - isn't a lot less strange than calling it "basement"(which is completely sensless, isn't it?). BATHroom means a room where a BATH is. And HOW do you tell bathroom-toilet from bathroom-with bath??Maybe my English is still too bad to understand it(sry for mistakes, i'm just 16 but I'm working hard on(at?)my english..)
This is too funny. I had completely forgotten about this. I moved from the Gardner area about 12 years ago and totally lost this word in the process. We ALWAYS used the word basement in place of bathroom. But for me I thought it just started because in my kindergarten school house, the tiolets were in the basement, the cold dark basement that was so scary for a kindergartener. Hated it down there.
I remember at the East Street School in Fitchburg asking Miss Hayes if I could"Go to the basement"!!
I forgot about this too! In the 80s in Medford, I'd always ask to go to the basement. Crazy.
This is apparently true of Bedford Mass as well. My dad who lived there 45 - 50 years ago told me this one and I've been telling him for 3 years now that he was crazy...until I saw this.
It was the basement when I went to elementary school in the 70s in Chelmsford as well.
To me, "the Basement" is where we went to "pick up some slacks and a jersey."
Went to Our Lady of Grace Elememtary School in Everett in the 60's. We had to ask to go to the basement. I thought it was a nun thing!
The school bathroom was "the basement" in Sandwich in the 60s. Never really thought about it until now.
The school restrooms were called "the basement" in Chelsea in the 1970s; when I went to parochial school in Everett, we called them "the lav(atory)".
I must say ive never heard this expression "basement" before maybe its just an american thing?
Yup, "the basement" was the term for the bathrooms at the old St James in Haverhill, where the bathrooms were actually in the basement. It stuck for awhile at the new St. James too, even though there was no basement and they put bathrooms on both floors.
Definitely legitimate for the Oakdale School in Dedham, circa 1982-1987. The bahthroom was actually in the basement, so it made sense.
I was born in Melrose, and in 4th grade i moved to Wisconsin. I remember like it was yesterday, I was sitting in class, the new girl from "the bad part of the world" and i raised my hand and asked to go to the basement, EVERYONE laughed so hard, and the teacher said we don't have a basement, and i said to her "well how do i go Pee" It was so embarrising. I am 31 years old know and i still remember that. :)
Your father was correct. I went to elementary school in the "Yellow Building" in Bedford, MA 1949+ and we went to "the basement".
AFAIK, "basement" is only ever used in schools in the area.
Arriving in Luxembourg from Chicago, my wife (who speaks fluent German and English) asked for the bathroom at the information desk. She was informed that there was no bathing facility in the terminal. Finally she was directed to the WC which is a British term rendered in most of Europe as VAY SAY. Going to school in the 50s in Maine, all the toilets were in the basement and that's where you asked to go.
In American English there are proper terms, such as restroom and men's or ladies' room, for a bathless public toilet or other toilet outside their (or any other) home. People are conditioned to say bathroom in a home because the toilet typically it is in there with a bath. However they neglect the distinction outside the home when seeking a restroom.
I went to the first grade at the Forest Park School in Medford, MA in 1948 and the bathroom was called the basement. And on my first day of school I had to stay after as I broke the rule of no running in the basement, thank you Miss Ragazino! I was skipping, not running, I was skipping because I was so happy to be in school!
I went to Elementary School in Worcester MA (kindergarten in 1969). We called it the basement too. I never met anybody outside of MA who knew what I was talking about. Thank you for this site, you've helped prove my sanity. LOL!
From Lowell MA and all the schools there has "basements".
Went to Beethoven School - West Roxbury in the 60's, it was the basement there too. And none were in the actual basement!
I went to elementary school at the Washington Allston School 1961-67. The washrooms were called "the basement" there as well (and were, in fact, located in the basement,) but when I moved on to Girls' Latin in 7th grade, the washrooms there were "lavs."
Saugus schools we said basement, 70s-80s.
In the late 40's and all thru the 50's at St.Joseph's Schoolin Roxbury we went to the basement too.
This was a bit of culture shock for me when I moved to Weymouth from California in 1963. I was in 5th grade and it was really difficult to learn to use the word "basement" when I had to go. We also had a different term for drinking fountains. They were called "Bubblers".
Holliston public schools in the 60s = basement and bublahs
In the early 60's my grade school near Bangor, Maine was using "basement." I think it was or is a holdover of Victorianism -- one said limb and elastic rather than the vulgar leg and rubber band.
In WV in my1950s grade school we always said "basement". However, my husband from the other side of the mountain just 30 miles away had never heard the term. I am so happy to find this validation but surprised to find so many comments from the upper New England area. I now live near Bangor, Maine and will certainly do a survey among my colleagues.
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