My mother (Cockney born and bred) still uses the phrase "going to spend a penny" as a euphemism for going to the bathroom.
I have used them, when I was a boy. They were in most city parks in downtown L.A. when I would "go into the city" and spend the day while my dad was at work. (long story).
I've used them in Britain and other places in Europe. They do have a few in NYC now but I've never used those. There are still enough hotels and department stores where you can go for free. Otherwise, there is always the side of a building or between two parked cars.Just kidding!
There's also an English phrase, "The penny dropped," meaning a sudden realization or awareness. The presumably came from how the pay toilet door would only open when the coin dropped into the unlocking mechanism.
Here I sit, brokenhearted.Paid a dime to poop,and only farted.Pay toilets will destroy the Muse who penned that famous poem (changed slightly to accommodate this family publication).
As a pimply teenage nerd some fifty years ago, I twice visited with Arkham House founder and author August Derleth at his home in Sauk City, Wisconsin. Once, I asked to use the facilities. Derleth said, "Don't forget to leave a quarter on the stool."I laughed, but later wondered if he was serious. After all, he had spent a lifetime cranking out words for 1/2 cent per!
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