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Remembering the old outhouse out back

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  • Remembering the old outhouse out back

    How many of us remember a real outhouse over a big hand dug pit? Yup it really stunk in there on a hot summer day but it was OK. Yup, you had to watch that the hornets outside that built a nest under the roof were in a good mood or they would end your life quick and in a most painful way, but it was OK so long as we had the old outhouse. Today they have been banned in many places and our young will never understand what it was like to use one of them. GRRRRRR ... I want a real outhouse again.

    This video is dedicated to all the great outhouse of times gone by and to any still left standing.

  • #2
    Re: Remembering the old outhouse out back

    We still have a WPA or a Department of Agricultural out house out back, It needs some repair but it is ready if there is a need,

    as far as I can determine there was a slight difference between the USDA and WPA units, the WPA units the hole was in the corner and as in the pictures of the USDA units they were square with the concrete base,

    WPA did built thousands of outhouses across America. Three-man teams would spend an average of twenty hours on the construction of each one. Where possible the farm family receiving the new outhouse would pay for the materials (about $17 per outhouse), while the WPA supplied the labor free. These were outhouses like America had never seen before, with cast cement floors and fancy ventilation shafts.

    the picutre of the old base out in the grass is a WPA out house base, ( )
    the black and white ones are USDA picutres.
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    • #3
      Re: Remembering the old outhouse out back

      "This video is dedicated to all the great outhouse of times gone by and to any still left standing."

      You mean they have something different now!!


      • #4
        Re: Remembering the old outhouse out back

        Good, old times.
        At least there were no leaks to fix and plumbing was really cheap.
        In order to understand recursion, one must first understand recursion.


        • #5
          Re: Remembering the old outhouse out back

          I can think of a heckuva lot better memories than those outhouses! Perhaps it's just because I was just a finicky kid, but there was a cause of instant constipation... rather than have to go anywhere near one of them!

          My grandparents, God bless all of their souls, were terrific and I look back on my early childhood with great fondness and wonderful memories. But the outhouse wasn't one of them.

          My "northern" grandparents had a farm in Wellsboro, PA. Great place with around 97 acres set up on a hillside west of the village. Cows, a couple of draft horses, chickens, haying season done by hand, (no power equipment on the farm). I remember when they put in the electric lines, I was about nine or ten. They had an outhouse, but by the time I remember it, it was just a curiousity as they had a cold-water bathroom in the house. But you had to use a hand-pumped bucket of water to flush it.

          Now, my "southern" grandparents, were by contrast quite poor. They lived in Enfield, NC. I remember Alsop Street, on the western side of town. The street and every other piece of ground was a lot like sand, and everything was flat. The house had only three rooms, one single light bulb (dangling from the ceiling) in each. It was clapboard sided, tin roof, and sat up on brick, chimney sized "stilts". There was one cold water spigot in the so-called kitchen sink. The drain went through the floor and dumped on the ground... no sump, sewer or anything like it.

          The outhouse was about 50 ft or so out the back. Out behind that were the "ditches"... about two or three feet deep and running in a trench-like pattern through a thicket-like overgrowth. As a kid, the trenches were intrigueing, but we were forbidden from playing there (probably because of the germs, but we didn't think like that at our age). Beyond those trenches, were another row of houses which were part of another world, that was referred to as "black bottom" (no offense meant of anyone... but that was what it was called in the 50's).

          Man, I couldn't stand to go near that outhouse. It stank beyond description and the "pit" was full of maggots. Looking back, I suppose they were too poor to use lime, but it was simply awful. Today, it's hard to imagine anyone living like that, but that's how it was and it was like that for everyone on that street and I imagine those houses beyond.

          That part of N.C. is pretty much sand everywhere. Great for tobacco and peanuts. (I remember an old sign outside Enfield that read "Peanut Capital of the World".) I also remember my grandparents "taking in tobacco", which was a poor families' souce of income back then. (You received bags of freshly picked tobacco leaves, which you sorted by size and quality, de-stemmed and then tied in bunches to a "tobacco stick" (a 2 x 2 x 8, roughly) and hung from the ceiling of your living quarters to dry! IIRC, they got paid about a nickel a stick.

          I sort of digressed a bit with the tobacco story, so lets get back to that sand... imagine what happens when it rains hard, which was almost a weekly event in 50's era NC. The streets literally fill up with water, as does the yard (good reason to have that house up on "stilts") and of course the back yard with all of it's outhouses! The "ditches" take up most of the runoff, and you wait for the sandy ground to slowly obsorb the rain and all the "imaginables" that got swept up in the torrent. As a kid, you don't give much thought to that I suppose. But as I look back, I wonder where in the world was my parent's head, leaving me every other summer or so in such a place for a week or two at a time.

          So, you might look back and lament over those old outhouses. NOT ME. Up north you might well have had to drop you pants in dead of winter and hope that there weren't too many holes in the planks, and down south... well, let's just leave that down south! Hopefully the stench kept the snakes away... but you still had to worry about nasty spiders and for heaven's sake, you didn't make any trip in the middle the night!

          Thank all the plumbers in the world for what we have today!