Appalachian Thursday – Outhouses
Tomorrow is my wedding anniversary–twenty-two years! So what does that have to do with outhouses? Well, if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that the church where we married was lacking indoor plumbing.
It still is twenty-two years later.
So, in honor of the outhouse at my wedding, I thought I’d share some interesting outhouse facts.
And no, I did NOT attempt to use the facilities in my wedding gown.
- Crescent moons. The crescent moon you often see cut in the door serves a couple of purposes. First, it lets in a bit of light. Second, it was a way to differentiate between ladies and gents. Women got the crescent moon while men had a star. Allegedly, the moon is more common because the ladies took better care of their facilities and so they lasted longer.
- Two-seaters. You may have seen an outhouse with two holes and wondered just how chummy folks were back in the day. Typically, the second hole wasn’t for simultaneous pottying. Often there was an adult-sized hole and then a smaller, child-sized hole.
- Garbage disposal. There are actually folks who go around digging where they think outhouses might once have been. This is because owners used to toss all kinds of stuff into the opening. And yesterday’s trash is sometimes today’s collectible.
- Toilet paper. Often, there wasn’t any. This is where the Sears catalog came in with its nice, soft pages. And if you’ve ever heard the phrase, “rough as a cob,” it originated in an outhouse where shucked corn cobs were sometimes re-purposed.
- WPA Outhouses – In the 1930s part of Roosevelt’s Work Projects Administration (WPA) was improving rural sanitation through the construction of Red Cross designed outhouses (see image above). These were luxury models with cement floors, smooth seats, and vents. They were also meant to be fly and vermin proof, although I have my doubts.
All in all, having used an old-time outhouse and a modern port-o-john, I have to say the Appalachian outhouse is the nicer of the two experiences.