Tuesday, May 5, 2015

MY VIEW #70 - Outhouses

Photo by Michelle Radcliff
Oh boy! This subject will be fun to write about. "A small building, used as a toilet, near but not connected to a house, with a seat with a hole, over a deep pit, where you sit to relieve yourself." Wow! The dictionary, yes. (Dictionary quote.)

Outhouses were in use, as is, for many years before I was born. They had many names, here are some for you to laugh about: the back-house, the pit, the bog, the biffy, the shitty, Houses of Parliament, Seats of the Mighty, the Opera House, Eaton's reading room, to name a few. Some had flowers planted around them, some had cutouts on the door, crescent moon, a rose, a star, or initials, these let some light in. The only paper available, in most, was an old out-dated edition of Eaton's catalogue, and a string on a nail which held papers that once covered apples or oranges. Real gentle toilet roll paper? No, no! Whoever heard of white toilet paper? That was a luxury country folk didn't need, so why buy it?

Nearly everybody on farms on the Prairie had a wire or rope connecting both houses. In the winter it could be the only lifeline to safety, for one going to the outhouse or the main house. Outhouses were moved around every few years and a new pit dug. The old outhouse was lifted up and placed over the new pit. Then the old pit was filled in, and in another year, lo and behold, beautiful flowers!

Halloween night was a time for pranks, so, doors got removed and put up in trees, outhouses got knocked over quite often; a bicycle or a goat tethered to the roof, or newspaper taped over the two holes. yes, some toilets were "one holers" others were "two holers," in case of emergency.

Today we live in a different style, so our homes are different. The bathroom is the most expensive room in the house to build. Some are beautiful, with the most elaborate asses allowed and available. People go nuts over their bathrooms. I don't get it. A clean, plain, nice small, pretty toilet is lovely. We all need one to have comfortable lives. Not a show-case one. Some say style is very important. So long as we can do what we need to do in a toilet, any toilet, it will keep us happy and healthy. Hee, hee! I'm just trying to make you laugh.

Did this liven up your day? I love you all so very much.

Mom/Letty 
July 2007

P.S. years ago, at a big open air gathering, we had to make do with one or two outhouses. Now we find "porta-potties," plenty of them, cleaner things and acceptable. Time does march on. "Whoopee for us!"

At Heritage Park, in Calgary, Canada, there is a two-storey outhouse outside the old Wainwright Hotel. I can't imagine using that one! 

When I was a child, apples and oranges came in wooden boxes, and each fruit was individually wrapped in paper. These are the papers Mom refers to; thankfully I never had to use them for the purpose she describes.

I recall visiting relatives in Peace River, Alberta, in the dark of winter when the temperature was around forty below zero. We had to use an outhouse, so when I had a need in the middle of the night, I crept outdoors in my pajamas, bathrobe, parka and boots. The snow was so cold it squeaked under my feet. Baring my behind was extremely uncomfortable, but my thoughtful in-laws had created a toilet seat made of styrofoam, and as soon as I sat down, the insulating stuff was warm to the touch. And the stars were breathtaking.