momcat2000(indiana)August 22, 2004

anyone have any good outhouse stories?

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Our local paper had an editorial cartoon by a local man called "John". It was a drawing of an outhouse with political comment. He was an artist and had a whole series of outhouse paintings.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2004 at 6:29PM
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saypoint(6b CT)

Well, I don't know about "good" stories. We don't have many outhouses in CT anymore.

When I lived in VA a couple of years back, there was an old fella lived in a small town not far away (in the mountains) who fell thru the rotted floor of his outhouse on a Sunday morning. Stayed there until his mailman noticed on Tuesday that Monday's mail was still there, and went around back to investigate.

Lucky for him, because it might've been a while before anyone missed him. Anyway, first thing he said when the mailman stuck his head in the door was, "Could you bring me a coca-cola from the kitchen?" EMTs got him out, he was OK once they cleaned him up and fed him. Couple of days in the hospital for observation and rehydration.

The county built the man a new house, with indoor plumbing, for free. All's well that ends well.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2004 at 10:02PM
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my grandma lived in cedar lake indiana. she built her retirement home amist many seasonal homes, many with no indoor plumbing. her brother and sister had "summer shacks" to each side of her and unless they needed to use grandma's bathtub, they used outhouses and outdoor showers. usually, the tool shed was right next to the outhouse. you could tell the difference because the outhouse had a cut out moon and screened vents. when my uncle's summer shack burned to the ground, all that was left was the outhouse and tool shed. granpa took over the tool shed, and my 4 aunts used the old outhouse as a club house(!) i often wondered how all 4 of them got into that little old house. later on, they used to sneak grandma's cigarette butts and smoke them in the little well ventilated "club". if i had room in my back yard, i sure wish i had one of those old outhouses to use as a tool shed. wouldn't that be "retro"

    Bookmark   August 23, 2004 at 8:57AM
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I live in an old one-room schoolhouse and one of the original privies is still on the property. I've been told by locals and past students that it was the GIRLS and, yes, there is a tiny hole bored into a wall for a "look-see". ha
It was used up until the 1950's and must have been re-vamped from time to time. Although, the cedar shake roof was still there until last year when I had to cover it with modern shingles.
I've never liked using outhouses, my own family had one until I was six years old. Too dark and scary. I can remember feeling as tho I would fall through the hole any minute. In fact, many of our neighbors had outhouses and still did in the 1960's. When Dad put the bathroom inside the house, all the kids marveled at the shower and would do anything to try it out!
Just one more story: When I was little, I remember surprising my Uncle Jim, while he sat in the privy at my grandparents down the street. I flung the door open and there he sat, reading a magazine. He shouted and I slammed the door shut and ran.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2004 at 9:24PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

When I was a kid our local Grange Hall had two outhouses painted white and located a short distance from the Hall. A small light showed the way to them. One night during a dance we unscrewed the light and moved the men's outhouse back from the hole. It didn't take long for a guy to reach for the door and fall in the hole. We kids learned a few new cuss words that night! He landed face first.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2004 at 11:43AM
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We still have the original outhouse on our property. I keep saying every year I'm going to do something grand with it, but still haven't gotten around to it.
The funniest outhouse story I ever heard was told by my grandmother. My grandfather was using theirs, and saw a snake in there with him. He was so utterly scared of snakes, his only focus was getting out. Seems he ran out screaming, completely forgetting to pull up his pants! This from a man that fought in WW2!
What I hate even more than the original outhouses is those darn port-a-pot things they use at fairs and stuff. A few years ago, I was forced to use one at the county fair. I wanted out so bad when I was done, I couldn't seem to work the darn lock right, which in turn made me more hysterical and left wanting out more and more with each passing second. It was kind of like being locked in a huge stinky rubbermaid bowl :-( And you know, when something like that happens, it just wouldn't be complete without your sister standing on the outside screaming for all to hear "Are you okay in there?!"

    Bookmark   September 3, 2004 at 6:55AM
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shortlid(Derry, NH)

Anyone restored a outhouse or build a new one? We have alot of summer parties and the old septic can't take another party!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2005 at 3:36PM
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This story is probably not true, but was told to me as fact.

Ted's mother was a weathly but miserly old New Englander who preferred to go without rather than part with her cash. She was sorely tempted, however, when she saw an ad in the Boston Globe for an "Odorless Outhouse."

Not willing to pay for an item to be brought down from the city, she contacted a local carpenter and showed him the plans. "Can you build me one of these"? "You bet." "Odorless, are you sure?" "You bet."

One week later, the lovely outhouse was complete. I know that it was well made, because I've seen it myself. Ted's mother was pleased that she'd gotten this modern marvel for a fraction of the cost of the ones sold in Boston. Her delight was short lived, however, and within a week she called the carpenter back.

"It smells just as bad as my old outhouse," she compalined. The carpenter scratched his head and said he'd have a look-see. A few minutes later, he was back at her door. "I see the problem, m'am. Why, someone's gone and took a dump out there."

    Bookmark   February 14, 2005 at 7:25PM
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OK, I'm from NYC so the outhouse went out with George Washington. But I do have a question for those of you more familiar with the topic.

What other terms (printable) have you heard for outhouse? And specifically, have you ever heard the term "war office" for an outhouse? My interest is scholarly, I assure you.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2005 at 7:31PM
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egyptianonion(z5 central IL)


My father always made reference to the "backhouse" of his day. This is in rural Illinois. (Fortunately for me, indoor plumbing was built into to the new house in 1922.)

My father used to listen to the "Cap'n Stubby Show" early mornings during the 1960's, and one morning learned from Cap'n Stubby about placement of said structure. Properly, one makes sure to put it in line with, but farther out from the woodpile. This way, if the lady of the house goes out on a mission and sees that the hired man or someone else is out in the yard, she alters her plan and gathers wood for the stove. Cap'n Stubby observed that oftentimes she might make half a dozen trips to the woodpile before she made it to her true destination.


    Bookmark   February 16, 2005 at 12:26AM
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Egyptianonion--That is really interesting about putting the woodshed by the outhouse for that purpose. That's the sort of historical detail that doesn't get written down in books.

This struck me as an amusing thread but the more I think about it, the more I realize that the outhouse had to be an important part of the landscape until very recent times. How did people integrate it into a 'genteel" landscape or garden, for instance?

My husband's wealthy aunt and uncle had a gorgeous place in Maine. They owned an entire point of land, sticking out into a bay. The house was a huge old place--with no indoor plumbing until around 1970! The outhouse was at the end of a rickety wooden walkway that led out over the water, many feet high. There you went...to go. So environmentally sound, don't you think?! I will ask the cousins if Auntie and Uncle had a name for this outhouse.

Come on, you all. What did they call it where you grew up?

And please don't forget my question about calling it a "war office". Thanks.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2005 at 10:06AM
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I found this cute poem on the web.
With sincere apologies to the Village Blacksmith...

Beneath the spreading buckeye tree
the weathered outhouse stands,
a sanctuary where you're free
from labor's harsh demands.

Of all the big city's luxuries,
tile, porcelain, or chrome,
none satisfies & gives sweet ease
like that fragrant shack back

Submitted by Jim Maggard, Dayton, Ohio

I also found a site for a shop in Jamaica Vermont that builds decorative outhouses!

    Bookmark   February 18, 2005 at 4:58PM
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I've never heard it called a war office. Privy, toilet, shack out back. I live in Kansas, we had one until the mid sixties! I can remember trapsing out there on cold winter nights with flashlight, one of my sisters and me, scared and freezing, we made quick work of it, too. My grandparents never had a "modern" bathroom. They did have running water and a double sink in the kitchen. But, Grandma still kept the granite wash basin on a wooden stand right inside the back door. I can still smell the lava soap. Wow, thanks for making me take this walk down memory lane. She never used the kitchen sink for dishes, though I can still see her with 2 granite dishpans on the kitchen table. Their outhouse had an arbor built outside the door with roses growing on it (really didn't help inside the privy). Once my older sister was late getting ready for a date and when my (now brother-in-law) pulled in, she was high-tailing it back to the house in hair curlers and her "duster". I got a good laugh! We used to play Annie Annie Over the Outhouse, throwing a ball back and forth. Actually, my BF has an outhouse, we "open" it once a year, for our 4th of July festivities, the grand kids use it, but I walk back up to the house. I figure I've "done my time" in the outhouse.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2005 at 2:31PM
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Great recollections and thanks for sharing them. But I'm glad for the modern conveniences!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2005 at 3:57PM
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saypoint(6b CT)

I've heard them referred to as a "neccessary". I saw a post somewhere else recently that describes lamb's ear as a useful plant to put near the outhouse in case you're out of paper.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2005 at 9:48AM
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Desert Solitaire, by edward abbey, has a great passage in it about cautionary graffiti he found scrawled on an outhouse wall at arches national park in utah....

    Bookmark   April 24, 2005 at 11:51PM
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Cady(6b/Sunset34 MA)

It's not too late to buy the official 2005 Outhouse Calendar!

Here is a link that might be useful: Outhouses

    Bookmark   May 5, 2005 at 3:38PM
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My aunt told me that tall hollyhocks were planted around the outhouse so that genteel visiting ladies didn't have to ask directions (so indelicate).

She said they also planted tall hollyhocks in a designated out-of-the way area in cotton fields; the outhouse would have been too far away, & the hollyhocks both signalled the appropriate location & provided some privacy.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2005 at 12:36PM
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We had outhouses at summer camp, but we called them latrines. Most of ours were "fancy" 2 or 3 stall models. In one of the tent units, there was a snake living in the latrine. In my 12 years of attending/working at camp, there was a black snake there every summer. It was good, because he kept the mice from eating the toilet paper. Although, it is hard enough to convince little girl scouts to use a latrine without having to warn them about snakes, too. One of the counselors got bit on the bottom by a brown recluse spider while using the latrine. She couldn't sit down for the rest of the summer--but the DR said that it was the fatty tissue in her "cheek" that saved her life--the poison didn't travel fast through her system.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2005 at 10:28PM
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Millie_36(Z6b MO)

It was Lilacs that hid the "johnny" where I grew up. I don't know about it signaling genteel ladies, but they did screen it from the county road. My DH and I installed a modern bathroom for grandma..she wouldn't walk all the way inside to use it if working outside, so we burned the old Johnny down. LOL I think mostly it was called "outhouse" by my folks. Funny how many farm folk would put water in the house, but only to a kitchen sink. But, if you think of it, they may have been familar with the old cistern pumps installed on the edge of a "sink" from earlier times. That was all "water in the house" meant to them. Mostly it was electricity that held us up....didn't get it until 1947. All power line building and transformer manufacturing was suspended until the end of WW2.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 5:04PM
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We have a new outhouse. Our shop, still on our land but 1/2 mile from the house, has no plumbing at this point, so an outhouse seemed like the answer. It's tucked in under some hemlock trees, so it stays shady and cool, and there's great view through the screen door out across a field towards the trees. We don't have any near neighbors who might be visiting from that direction other than the turkeys and deer, so it's plenty private. Since it's not a fulltime outhouse, it doesn't smell, even in this warm weather. I don't linger in December, though! Around here, I've heard them referred to as the outhouse, the backhouse, or the necessary.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2005 at 2:30PM
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Antique_Geek(7b/8a (S. MD))

We have an old order mennonite community in our county. In the 80's, I believe, a new mennonite community school was built with an outhouse behind it. Our Health Department had an fit & issued a stop work order. Finally calmer officials talked the Health Department into backing away from this issue. The irony to me was seeing a truck applying sewage sludge to nearby farm fields at a rate of about 30 wet tons per acre at the same time the outhouse issue was hot. I have no doube which action would have the greatest environmental impact. And you might like to know the health department had approval authority over the sludge application.

Fianlly I recall as a high school kid talk about something being built like a brick s*%t houses. I saw my first real brick outhouse at Sturbridge in Mass.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2005 at 11:58AM
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egyptianonion(z5 central IL)

Antique--yes, I heard a reference to my English teacher, a well-proportioned woman, as being "built like a brick s___ house". The rest of it is, "with every brick in place!"

    Bookmark   July 26, 2005 at 3:46PM
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I have often heard that if you are looking for old collectables, the site of an old outhouse is a good place to dig. Lots of stuff got tossed in there

    Bookmark   September 19, 2005 at 7:47PM
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I just read a biography of the famous American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He grew up in Portland, Maine. His sister got the family home there--quite a substantial house, now open to the public, with a garden--and lived there til a great old age. She had the last permit for an outhouse within the city of Portland well into the 20th century. Didn't want indoor plumbing!

    Bookmark   September 19, 2005 at 10:19PM
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gardengal_co(z5 CO)

I was pleasantly surprised to see this post. Outhouses!! We had indoor plumbing, but didn't get a toilet put in our house until '74. Even with an indoor toilet, my Dad still insisted upon using the outhouse and told us we had to use the outhouse in the summer, rather than indoor. At the time I didn't understand why, but partly it was due to excess water going into the septice tank.

My Grandma had a two seater. Which is kinda funny, cause there wasn't any divider between the two holes. I wonder how many times both seats were ever occupied at the same time??? Maybe you picked the "cleaner" side for your business.. you know those men, they can be messy in the bathroom!!!

When we were kids I was locked in the outhouse by my brothers and with the door latched from the outside they jumped on top and swayed the building. I hated the outhouse cause of the spider webs lurking in the corners.. never knew if one would bite me on the butt... so I did my job and got out of there.

Someone else posted about a wash basin by the door.. we had a wash basin set up in the yard so the hired hands could wash up before they came into the house for noon Dinner.. (not lunch, dinner) from working in the fields.

My, what a trip down memory lane. My kids and I now live in the city.. and will never know how life was back on the farm. But, even now I bring them to the farm in ND and we visit, but things have changed so much in just the past 40 years, they will never see it from my view. Even my brother's kids will never see the farm from the "family farm" point of view.

A simpler time, but still lots of work. Kristi

    Bookmark   September 23, 2005 at 1:17PM
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Very interesting reminiscences, Kristi. Where is your farm in ND? We went on a vacation to the Dakotas some years ago and I loved it. Actually, it was the summer before the great flood of Winter 96-97. We drove thru many areas of both South and North Dakotas. I was amazed that there are no tour guides to North Dakota. Even the book store couldn't find one for me. Thank heavens for AAA.

We spent a night in Bowman and felt as if we were on the far side of the moon. We had driven for hours from Deadwood SD and seen nothing but a few antelope and cattle--and buttes. Loved it. We also went to Medora, Grand Forks, Fargo and Bismarck--and many places in between. The scenery is magnificent.

I have a friend here in Mass. from ND and I asked him how they got thru the winters out there. He said, "By going to Arizona!" Got a chuckle out of that. It is extraordinary country--I'm so glad we had the chance to visit.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2005 at 2:14PM
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When i wrote the directions to the Bluegrass music campground i belong to, i included this:
>Turn off Rte. 28/66 onto the road to Belknap. Go down this road until you see the little red school house, on the right hand side of the road!
Out beside the road is the out-house (outdoor toilet to the city folk). Directly across the road is the entrance to the bluegrass park--no sign, just a gravel driveway, and the out-house across the road! I rec'd rave reviews from some of my friends--but they didn't miss the turn-off!

    Bookmark   October 12, 2005 at 6:16PM
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Someone has criticized this thread! In its defense, I'd like to point out that, in addition to the amusing and illuminating anecdotes, it's important to remember that outhouses were a historically significant part of the landscape and must be recognized as part of landscape history. Further, they have been a goldmine of artifacts for archaeologists and historians. During the excavation for the Big Dig here in Boston, old outhouses were unearthed and offered up lots of historic artifacts. I think there is a museum display. INK, I'm signing you up for a tour!

    Bookmark   October 23, 2005 at 4:12PM
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orcuttnyc(z5-6 NY)

When my wife and I went on safari in Tanzania, the campsite had only one outhouse. We were told not to venture towards it at night because of lions. It had no seat. Just a hole in the concrete, and two marks where you were supposed to place your feet. You sort of squatted a little, and held your pants forward as to not crap in them. Interesting experience.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2005 at 8:15AM
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saypoint(6b CT)

If you go to the American Memory Collection page, and type in outhouse and/or necessary, you'll get a number of photos, drawings, etc. of the humble outhouse.


Here's a link to a rather elegant example from the website, there are a number of others.

Here is a link that might be useful: necessary

    Bookmark   December 1, 2005 at 9:11PM
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watergrass(z9 CA)

Below is Jack Paar's Water Closet Joke, the one that was censored by NBC in 1960. I'm sure most of you read it somewhere. I just want to bring back some laughs. Enjoy!

"An English lady, while visiting Switzerland, was looking for a room, and she asked the schoolmaster if he could recommend any to her. He took her to see several rooms, and when everything was settled, the lady returned to her home to make the final preparations to move. When she arrived home, the thought suddenly occurred to her that she had not seen a "W.C." [water closet, a euphemism for bathroom] around the place. So she immediately wrote a note to the schoolmaster asking him if there were a "W.C." around. The schoolmaster was a very poor student of English, so he asked the parish priest if he could help in the matter. Together they tired to discover the meaning of the letters "W.C.," and the only solution they could find for the letters was letters was a Wayside Chapel. The schoolmaster then wrote to the English lady the following note:

Dear Madam:

I take great pleasure in informing you that the W.C. is situated nine miles from the house you occupy, in the center of a beautiful grove of pine trees surrounded by lovely grounds. It is capable of holding 229 people and it is open on Sunday and Thursday only. As there are a great number of people and they are expected during the summer months, I would suggest that you come early: although there is plenty of standing room as a rule. You will no doubt be glad to hear that a good number of people bring their lunch and make a day of it. While others who can afford to go by car arrive just in time. I would especially recommend that your ladyship go on Thursday when there is a musical accompaniment. It may interest you to know that my daughter was married in the W.C. and it was there that she met her husband. I can remember the rush there was for seats. There were ten people to a seat ordinarily occupied by one. It was wonderful to see the expression on their faces. The newest attraction is a bell donated by a wealthy resident of the district. It rings every time a person enters. A bazaar is to be held to provide plush seats for all the people, since they feel it is a long felt need. My wife is rather delicate, so she can't attend regularly. I shall be delighted to reserve the best seat for you if you wish, where you will be seen by all. For the children, there is a special time and place so that they will not disturb the elders. Hoping to have been of service to you, I remain,


The Schoolmaster."

    Bookmark   December 1, 2005 at 11:34PM
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gourd_friends(z5/6 IL)

This has been a real trip down memory lane for me, too. I grew up visiting the outhouse until my folks added a real bathroom in the early 60's.
The house we bought three years ago has a sidewalk that leads to the obvious long-ago setting of the outhouse.....under the old sycamore tree.
An old friend, who must have done more than his share outhouse tipping as a youth, calls them 'crappers'. He loves to point out a brick crapper that is still standing several miles north of here.


    Bookmark   January 14, 2006 at 7:50PM
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jannie(z7 LI NY)

When i was a child, my aunt and uncle lived in a house in the city (Buffalo NY) and also had a "farm house" out in the country. It had electricity. The stove used a propane gas tank. Water was from a well with a hand-pump. And there was an outhouse. No toilet paper, but you were encouraged to bring a newspaper with you. Not for reading. I have used latrines when camping, a little nicer,but not much. My children have never had the experience of an outhouse. I think they missed out. To them, "roughing it" is staying in a motel withn no computer.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2006 at 8:48PM
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Cady(6b/Sunset34 MA)

Our little summer shack in rural New Hampshire has an outhouse, which we still use when the inside bathroom is occupied.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2006 at 11:52AM
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WC is a euphemism for bathroom is it? I fill the bath tub in my bathroom with hot water, a few bubbles, a sponge and I soak in it a while. When I want to take a s**t I go to the toilet which is a euphemism for WC.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2006 at 9:08PM
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zenpotter(z4 MN)

That reminds me of a bathroom story and then I will tell my outhouse stories.

My husbnad and I moved to Norway in 1978. I was in the center of town and was looking for a "bathroom" as we from the USA tend to say. I went to the tourist information office and asked where I could find a bathroom, they gave me very good directions and I found myself at the YWCA where I could take a shower. That is when I learned to ask for a toilet when outside of the USA.

There was a post way back about hollyhocks, yes indeed at least here in the Midwest they were planted around the outhouse or the house out back to indicate where it was so it wasn't necessary to ask the indelicate question.

In 1974 my husband and I were renting a house in the country we had a house fire and had to find a new place to live. There was nothing to rent so some friends offered us the old farm house on their land to clean up and live in. It had electricity but no water, it came with an outhouse. We heated and cooked with wood. Well in the winter we kept the toilet seat behind the wood stove so when we went out we carried it with us under our coat so we had a warm place to sit. Not only was it warm we kept it very clean. We were first year teachers and found it an adventure plus we could shower at the school.

To this day we have an outhouse at our lake cabin so we have an extra toilet when we have a large group staying with us. It is now against the law to build a new one or move an old one so when the hole is full we will have to stop using it. It has two holes one is small for little kids.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2006 at 8:31AM
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Cady(6b/Sunset34 MA)

"WC" is short for "water closet" and specifically means a tiny separate room where the commode/toilet is. Many houses in England, and some in the US and Canada, separate the toilet from the rest of the bathroom with a wall or partition, or a complete "closet" you go into to do your business in total privacy.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2006 at 9:48AM
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I read some of your stuff cady trying to get to where you are coming from, you like words don't you, me too. It seems odd flirting around the WC instead of the ubiquitous water fountain doesn't it. Wanna trade some words?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2006 at 6:39PM
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My grandmother had a "johnny" out back.

My dad always said "I gotta go see a man about a dog" when he was going out to use it.

My mom used to say "I thought I heard a cat out there" when she was heading out the door to the johnny.

My brothers used to make references to "making a donation to the county" or "checking the want ads" or "getting a shortarm inspection" (which I always thought meant something else-but which they seemed to think was just hilarious).

My sister and I didn't like to go out to the johnny at night and we always used the "thunder mug" or "pottie jar"

    Bookmark   April 27, 2006 at 4:44PM
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So, here we have an opportunity to talk about the heritage of the gardening tradition as it reached the United States and we are talking about the shitter. As interesting as all these stories are and the remeniscence is this what constitutes the interest about the history of our gardens? Perhaps the shitter is in the garden yet perhaps we have moved on from that for crying out loud. Can we take it for granted that we now have in door plumbing and no longer wipe our ass with newspaper and move on. I will say it again for the slow whitted, we got the toilet in the back yard thing the crapper or whatever what we really wanted to be talking though was something different.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2006 at 7:48PM
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Well, inkognito, since you find this subject matter so crappy, I wonder you took the trouble to read, much less to respond. Another thing my mom used to say was if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.

So you want to talk about American heritage in gardening, do you? Is your finger broken, why don't you post an intriguing question that challenges people to do that? Or better yet, why don't you post your question on the Canadian Gardening forum, since that's where you live, maybe people there would be more open to your form of humor.

Interesting point to me was the fact that YOU were the only poster to this lighthearted thread who stooped to use the crass term "shitter." Shame on you, why don't you go clean your bathroom?

    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 6:38PM
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So you want to talk about American heritage in gardening, do you? No. I could talk about the heritage of gardening as it reached America though. I can see why you may gain a certain misconception from that one post, however if you look back at some old threads here you will see that we did once talk about gardens, their history and their restoration. Yet since August 2004 the topic of outhouses has been by far the most popular. My complaint is not about the light hearted topic or nature of stories connected with outhouse but that this is the ONLY topic people seem to want to talk about. And if you are looking for challenging questions yourself go back and check some from when this particular forum began, a time, an enthusiasm and an idea that has gone down the pan.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2006 at 3:52PM
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Cady(6b/Sunset34 MA)

Sometimes, the sublime is accompanied by the banal and ridiculous. Think of it as a balance of yin and yang.

If an outhouse of some age accompanies a garden, then certainly we must keep its appearance authentic and according to the home/garden's style. I wouldn't keep a shingled shitter with a half-moon on the door in the garden of a contemporary glass-and-steel house. These things require as much thought as the plantings, hardscape materials and accessories.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2006 at 9:30AM
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A lot of the enjoyment of these forums lies in being able to participate, to contribute.

Not everyone can offer insight on restoring, say, an 18th century Italianate garden or a New England Colonial town home.

But everyone (at least everyone over a certain age), can remember when every home had an outdoor necessary.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2006 at 12:19PM
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Like I said before: if you don't care for the topic, don't read it and don't post. Start a new topic, use your imagination, provoke thought, draw in the masses. I believe it's still possible to do that.

I think the reason that so many are amused by this thread is because as children we all go through an anal phase, where things pertaining to our own physical bodies are fascinating. To relive some of those early memories brings out the mischiveious child in many of us, and it's a comforting feeling of our permanence. It brings memories of when our parents were young and life was full of new things. Other suggestions also bring out those feelings, like: do you remember your first pet? It's just human nature.

Inky, please do by all means use this forum to talk about the things that have meaning to you, but there's no reason to rail at anyone here because 75 people get a chuckle reading about an outhouse. Start a new thread, I'll read it. Cheryl

    Bookmark   May 4, 2006 at 1:09PM
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This is the first time I've visited this forum and stumbled on this thread. I have a dear friend who grew up in L.A.( Lower Alabama) They had a outhouse. One day her Uncle went out there and saw a snake by the hole. Went and got the gun and unloaded both barrel's at the snake. The shot went down the hole, you can imagine the rest.


    Bookmark   May 8, 2006 at 5:08PM
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Cady(6b/Sunset34 MA)

Ew. The imagery is...vivid. lol
Years ago, a (now former) boyfriend of mine spent a year of academic sabbatical in the Philippines, and his faculty accommodations included an outhouse. It had a porcelain "throne" set over a hole in the floor, perhaps as a luxury accommodation for visiting professors.

One day he went to perform his necessary task, and found an 18' reticulated python curled around the bowl. The cool porcelain must have been tempting during the heat of the day. The guy freaked out and from then on insisted on using a latrine pit in the bushes.

Ink will probably want to avoid this thread. :)

    Bookmark   May 9, 2006 at 11:35AM
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I swore I would not post here but I can't resist sharing this true story--and no political slant is intended. The other day, I was listening to the news on the radio (while gardening actually). The newscaster was talking fast and was struggling between saying "Oval Office" and "White House". Instead she said, "And here's the latest news from the, um, Oval Outhouse." She immediately realized what she had said and had a hard time containing her own laughter as she finished the story. WBZ in Boston.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2006 at 2:13PM
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Cady(6b/Sunset34 MA)

That is too funny - and perfect - to be true, but I believe you, Ginny. lol

A classic "bungle" by a broadcaster concerning the White House, is on record from the 1960s, when a reporter trying to say "...a White House source said..." stumbled over the words and said "...a high white horse souse..."

The one you heard was better, in my opinion.

Geez. I keep looking around furtively to see whether Inky is readying a brick bat to throw! :)

    Bookmark   May 9, 2006 at 2:44PM
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I can't believe this. Has it ever occured to you outhouse fans that your favourite place may well be the origin of that outrageous complaint a*al retention? Give me indoor plumbing and three ply toilet paper and the release of inner tension is complete.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2006 at 7:06PM
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Cady(6b/Sunset34 MA)

Don't like roughing it, eh? Sounds like you would be too high-brow to check out www.poopreport.com, then! :)

Here is a link that might be useful: The straight poop on poop

    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 1:56PM
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annieinaustin(z8 Austin)

I will risk Ink's disdain and post here, also, and this actually deals with garden history in a way. Yesterday while reading Katharine S. White's book "Onward and Upward in the Garden", I read that there was a famous pink-cupped daffodil named 'Mrs. R.O. Backhouse' [pronounced like the Greek god Bacchus]. In 1960 Jackson & Perkins were too squeamish to use the real name in their catalog, calling the daffodil 'Mrs. R.O. Pinkhouse' instead.


    Bookmark   May 12, 2006 at 1:42PM
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That is still a famous daffodil, available from several sources but especially from the incomparable bulb catalog, Old House Gardens. But I never knew that funny story--and I own and have read that book! Mind is going.... Annie, Do you recall what page it's on?

    Bookmark   May 12, 2006 at 4:47PM
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annieinaustin(z8 Austin)

Hello Ginny,

My copy was printed in 1979. In this edition the comment was on page 125.


    Bookmark   May 12, 2006 at 5:45PM
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Thanks--That's the edition I have--the first. I think I value that book more now than when I first read it as an uncouth youth, so to speak. It is considered an American garden classic and it certainly belongs here--thanks for bringing it up.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2006 at 5:53PM
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I'm a hosta freak and there is a variety called Outhouse Delight. It's not much to look at but a lot of hybridizers use it as a breeder.


    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 7:43PM
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Lisa, LOL - Outhouse Delight - I figure it HAS to be one of Tony Avent's intros, right? He's responsible for the hostas "Bubba" "Elvis Lives!" and "Red Neck Heaven."

    Bookmark   June 1, 2006 at 10:46AM
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Ideefixe(SoCal/Sunset 23)

I grew up on a cattle ranch in Montana, and we had outhouses well into the 60s--we also had a pump and a well.
After my father died, and we sold the place, I went back for a visit, and was amused to see that the new owners had torn down the outhouse and planted their vegetable garden in the same location.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2006 at 1:14PM
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Cady(6b/Sunset34 MA)

Tony Avent's Outhouse Delight is supposed to be a genetic treasure trove of good attributes that have produced many fantastic hosta varieties. Even though the parent plant is ugly as can be (hence, the outhouse monicker), it's got a gift of good DNA. A look at the Plant Delights catalogue shows that it's one of the more expensive hostas, but it seems to provide what collectors are seeking in genetic material, so it's an investment.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2006 at 8:09PM
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lanternboy(Z8 WA)

The 'ol outhouse of an old homested is a favorite spot for us bottle diggers to search for rare old bottles. It was kinda like a dump (sorry for the pun) in the old days. The old man would keep his whiskey bottle stashed outside and take it with him for a short snort and then hide the evidence down the hole when done. Nothing like digging an old privey!!!!!

    Bookmark   July 6, 2006 at 3:49PM
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emagineer(z5 CO)

Restoration of old gardens? The "outhouse". My best memories were on the farm in Ohio, we had electricity but not water, an old log house which is now over 200 years old. The outhouse was surrounded by the most beautiful lilacs and a cherry tree. I went on a memory walk back to the farm a few yars ago....the house has been restored, but the outhouse gone.

In days of yore, the outhouse was used as a prank by teenagers during Holloween....moved to some rediculous place, like on top of a roof.

My father was a story teller and photographer, every time he showed his "slides", the pic of the out house came up and he would recite a poem by Whitman about the lilacs/outhouse/friend....I still have his book of poetry from dad. This was part of my history and the wonderful gardens surrounding both the house and the out building.

Call me an idiot (by those who couldn't care less about this topic) but I've always wanted to build one in my garden. Not to be used, but more of a storage or garden shed. There are tons of plans and pictures of them in current gardens, some new and some restored. And many still stand. Sears Robuck actually had options for indoor plumbing or an outhouse in their catalog of homes.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2006 at 7:33AM
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elizh(z5/6 MA)

I live in a New England farmhouse that got running water in 1980. The outhouse is still in its original location though the pit is long since earthed up. A visitor suggested moving it up to the vegetable garden and using it as a toolshed. I don't feel that's in the spirit of things but haven't worked out what would be. Maybe restore the mosquito netting, add a vine, and put a cushion across the bench for a hideaway? I guess for reading it would need a lamp of some sort. The location is shady....

    Bookmark   November 25, 2006 at 9:27PM
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zootjs(zone 5 MA)

The Sears catalog was a common TP, back in the day.

A couple years ago, we knocked down a terrible trash pail shed attached to our house, as it was rotting the sill. We had an outbuilding constructed for our trash pails and some garden tools, and it was an exact replica of a large outhouse (4-seater!) that used to be on a neighbor's land. It fits very nicely into the architecture of this historic district.

Outbuildings are an essential aspect of historical gardeningÂand one that is often lost, these days. Antique barns suffer mightily, but they have some advocacy. Outhouses are really fading fast. Someone should form a non-profit....


    Bookmark   January 21, 2007 at 8:42PM
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This is (was) a truly great thread.

I'm working on an outhouse-style tool storage for my garden. The house my wife and I live in was built in 1958 (with full indoor plumbing) but the original owner of the house was using an outhouse on his family farm (about a mile away) prior to moving here.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2011 at 10:01AM
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