, Newburyport, MA

Local News

May 18, 2013

Lagoulis: Remembering Newburyport's July 4th festivities


Even when plumbing was fully established, Newburyporters still did not part with their outhouses. It seemed they had become attached to them even though they now had first class plumbing. Curious uses were found for the outhouses - many of which became tool sheds and storage sheds of sorts or they were simply abandoned in the back yard. Many a mischievous prankster or over-zealous teenager would go to an extreme by “assisting” in the removal or destruction of people’s outhouses.

During one particular 4th of July, a small group of overzealous young men decided to provide their assistance in the total removal of an outhouse located on the upper part of State Street out by the circle. There were a few large four and six family homes up there; some of the larger homes had up to six-seat outhouses which of course were no longer being used. Unbeknownst to the homeowners, on the night of a 4th of July celebration, the young men placed ignited fire crackers inside the seats, sending the outhouse flying eight feet straight up into the air. A sight to behold!

Rumor has it, when that outhouse went sailing up into the air, the culprits were so stunned themselves that they ran as fast as they could back to the North End from where they’d come, and never looked back.

Oh, yes! Newburyport excelled in its 4th of July celebrations of the past more so and in more unique ways than in any other city or town that I know of in the area.

Enjoy the 4th of July!

John Lagoulis, now in his 94th year, is a columnist for the Daily News who writes about life in Newburyport the way he lived it during the early 1900’s. John has authored two Volumes titled, Newburyport: As I Lived It! The Trials & Tribulations of a Young Wharf Rat during the Early 1900’s in Massachusetts ~ a legacy ~, which are available in local bookshops. He can be reached by e-mail: or

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