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Questions Related to Outhouses and some other topics
  1. Why are there moons on Outhouse doors?
  2. How do I build an Outhouse? Do you have plans on how to build an Outhouse?
  3. Where can I find plans to build a WPA outhouse? We also have an answer about finding information on when a WPA outhouse was built here.
  4. What would be the difference between a pit type outhouse and a composting type outhouse?
  5. What accessories were found most often in outhouses?
  6. What are Outhouse Diggers? Is there really such a thing?
  7. Who was Thomas Crapper? Was he really the inventor of...?
  8. Who was Andy Gump? Did he invent the portable toilet...?
  9. Where can I buy outhouse related articles such as Outhouse wallpaper borders?
  10. Why did most outhouses contain two holes to sit on?
  11. Why was there a bag with a scoop in it sitting somewhere in the outhouse?
  12. How did they clean out the Outhouse hole when it became full?
  13. What is a chicken switch and why would it stand just outside the door of an Outhouse?
  14. Who was Chic Sales and what is The Specialist ?
  15. Were outhouses used by wealthy and famous in the mid-1800s? Were they the plain little shack variety or fancy? What would a "fancy" outhouse be like??
  16. What on Earth is an Earth Closet?
  17. What are some of the names that Outhouses have been called in the past?
  18. Many Outhouses built in the 1940's had gooseberry bushes planted somewhere in the vicinity, usually on either or both sides. Can you tell me why??
  19. What is the Loose Page?
  20. What is Ham Radio or Amateur Radio?
    How can I get licensed?
  21. Why are toilets called water closets?
  22. In the book "Cottage Water Systems" the brief on better backhouse building refers to a 4"x4" Lem Putt corner post, while the rest of the framing is standard 2"x 4". What is the purpose of the one 4x4" corner post?



















  • Why are there moons on Outhouse doors?

      I have received lots of questions about the quarter moon seen above the door in most outhouses.
       The answer lies in the lighting inside because outhouses were around before electricity. The best way to let light in was to put in a window. For privacy reasons, most outhouses were designed with the window above the line of sight. Many early outhouses contained a decorative "moon cutout" covered by glass. This allowed just enough light in to take care of business! It also allowed the real moon to shine through during the night. Bringing a lit lantern into some outhouses could have caused quite a bang so the moon won out! In reality, most people had a covered [Chamber] pot under the bed to go in during the night. Some people even made a wooden structure fashioned like a toilet seat with an area under the hole for the chamber pot to fit. A door in the front, side or back allowed someone to remove the pot in the morning to empty it into the Outhouse. It gets mighty cold at night and going outside in your skivies can chill you to the bone. Besides, the varmints are something else and you never know what you will run into in the dark!

    Here are other explanations...


       I build outhouses, backhouses, privies etc and have done so for many years and am amused by all the silly answers people give for the crescent cut out. First let me state there was nothing symbolic about it at its inception. An outhouse is as basic, functional, no nonsense a design as you would ever find on a homestead. The crescent was never designed to be a vent or a window to let in light. A well built outhouse usually had a vent along the roof line to vent out the chamber and a pipe from the box through the ceiling to vent out the gases.
       At a time when it was rather silly to waste good hardware on such a humble structure, old practical carpenters would just cut a crescent shaped groove into the door which fit the shape of a hand reaching into the door. Thus the door could be opened from the outside and if necessary the user could reach up from inside to secure the door if they heard someone coming. To insure privacy, you would find a scrap of cloth nailed on the inside so it would drape down and cover the opening without hindering the hand from reaching in.
       Over time, hardware became much cheaper and the crescent was no longer necessary and the traditional handle was replaced by those new fangled metal devices. Because the crescent became synonimous with the backhouse, the crescent tradition lived on and eventually became a signature decoration for this piece of Americana.
    Research is very necessary for me to manufacture a credible product for my customers located throughout New England and if you dig further you will still find folks who have actually depended upon this noble and humble structure, and have known the only function of this cutout to be as I have just described.
       Any doubters are welcome to come on down to the Bull Hill Workshop on Bull Hill in Colchester, Ct. for a bit of reality and common sense.
    thank you,
    Georg Papp, Sr.
    Owner of the Bull Hill Workshop


       Probably the most recognizable symbol associated symbol with the traditional outhouse building is the familiar crescent moon carved into the privy door. Actually, the symbol is an ancient one, and was a sign for womanhood in colonial days and on the frontier.
      It's male counterpart, Sol, was either a star or a sun burst design also on the door. Since most male outhouses fell into disrepair rather quickly they seldom survived; while the female ones were better maintained, and were eventually used by both sexes. Although you can find outhouses still standing with the crescent moon, the original meaning for gender identification was lost by the later nineteenth century in most areas of the country.


      Here is another response from another person...
    The moon that is often found on the outhouse door stand for the ancient sign- luna- or womanhood. When the outhouse was first invented people needed these signs to discern which was the men's or women's bathroom-for most people couldn't read. Soon, however, the men's became rundown or was very unkempt and not maintained. So everybody just used the women's bathroom, and the mens sunburst or sol sign was forgotten. The moon sign was kept and is also used as a vent.


      Another person corrects the term "quarter moon" as follows. This person obviously knows more about the sky than I do: The first sentence states that it is a quarter moon. A quarter moon, however, is a half lit moon where the terminator is half-way between each side of the disk. It would be more accurate to refer to the moon as a crescent moon in all cases. And if you wanted to be pedantic about it you could go so far as to call it a waxing or waning crescent moon depending on which side is lit.


      And yet another just asked this question: "Recently my husband built an old fashioned outhouse (tool storage) in our wildflower garden in the back yard. We've been having a discussion regarding the crescent moon on the door versus a starburst. The moon means ladies only, the starburst for men only. Right? But is the crescent moon typically waxing or waning? We would like to keep it looking as authentic as possible. The wood used for the outhouse was from an old chicken house that was on the property from 1948 and has that rustic appearance." The answer is that the moon is normally a Waning Crescent Moon.


    Return to Questions above
  • How do I build an Outhouse?
  • Do you have plans on how to build an Outhouse?
  • I want to build outhouse.
  • I'm looking for building dimensions.
  • I want to make it old and original looking.

      Yes, we now sell plans in our Outhouses of America store. Please follow this link to see the store:


    Paul Morris of MicrobiaLogic LLC sent in the following comments regarding Outdoor Toilet Resources:
      Our company sells bacterial products to reduce the odor and digest solids in all types of outdoor toilets. We constantly receive e-mails from people who want information on constructing privies and outhouses. In most cases, their intended use is on property used only seasonally such as a cabin or hunting or fishing camps. Rather than questions about the building itself, their real concern seems to be how to dig and configure the earthen pit and how a pit toilet actually works.
      Since most pit toilets are home built structures, there is little information about their construction that is commercially available. Rather than let these requests go unanswered, we decided to create a web page to list those resources we have discovered over the years online. The following site has been up and running for 6 months now and we refer all inquiries of this nature here:
      http://www.microbialogic.com/outdoor_toilets/


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  • Where can I find plans to build a WPA outhouse?


      As far as information on how to build a WPA outhouse...You can find a ton of information about WPA outhouses in a book by Ronald S. Barlow called "The Vanishing American Outhouse". The book I have is Copyright 1992; ISBN 0-933846-02-9. I suggest you do a search on that ISBN number on Amazon and you might find it for sale! Look at pages 22-24 for WPA Outhouse information, pictures and plans.
      We received this question from a visitor: "Greetings, I purchased an old homesite in east texas about ten years ago that has a WPA outhouse still standing. It had a wooden plaque in it stating it was built by the WPA with a date from the 1930s. Where can I find a record of its construction?
    Great website! Thanks for your time."
      When it comes to finding out information on the construction of a WPA outhouse you may have on your property, I do not know where any records would be kept. In fact, there may be no records. However, there is a lot of information about WPA Projects available in the Library of Congress web site located here: http://www.loc.gov/search/?q=wpa%20projects&fa=digitized:true. Thanks for asking!

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  • What would be the difference between a pit type outhouse and a composting type outhouse?


      Very simply put, a pit outhouse is an outhouse built over a hole that is dug beneath the outhouse where the "droppings" and "liquid waste" goes.
      A composting outhouse is much more complicated. It is built in such a way that the waste is composted and can be used for fertilizer or whatever else you use composted material for. The Humanure Handbook sold in our store will give you exact details and plans on how to build a compost outhouse.
      We sell plans in our Outhouses of America store to build a pit outhouse. Please follow this link to see the plans we sell.
      We also sell a book on how to build a composting toilet. You can see the book HERE.

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  • What are Outhouse Diggers? Is there really such a thing?

      You bet! You would not believe what can be found at the bottom of an archeological dig of an old outhouse site! To read the whole fascinating story about Outhouse Diggers, select
    HERE to go to the Outhouse Diggers page of the Outhouses of America Tour.

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  • Who was Thomas Crapper? Was he really the inventor of ...?

      His life was so significant, the Outhouses of America tour has devoted a couple of pages to him.
    Read about Thomas Crapper
    HERE!
    You will also be amazed to find out that there is now an official Thomas Crapper web site put out by the genuine Thomas Crapper company! You'll find a link to it on the Crapper page!
    If you want to read additional information about Thomas Crapper, take a look at the newest web page about him, his company, and an entire collection of antique loos!

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  • Who was Andy Gump? Was he really the inventor of the portable toilet as we know it today?

      His real name was Massena (Andy) Gump. He passed away in August of 1998 at the ripe old age of 88. Southern Californians know him for the relief he offered to millions of them for more than 40 years.
      Andy Gump built five portable toilets made out of plywood in his garage (sounds like Apple Computer). He did so because of a law that was passed in the 1950's requiring toilets at constructions sites.
      He rented the first five out so quickly that he built 40 more.
      Now Andy Gump, Inc. rents shower trailers, portable toilets, solar-powered rest rooms and VIP rest rooms complete with air-conditioning, flush toilets and mirrors. Andy Gump, Inc. now has nearly 100 employees.

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  • Where can I buy Outhouse-related articles?

    In Business since 1996!
    We accept PayPal payments.
      So many people have been asking for places to buy Outhouse related items, I just had to open our Outhouses of America web site store. We now feature ToilArt (you have to go there to see what this is...), Outhouse Books, Outhouse Crafts, miniature Outhouses, RockArt (you have to go there to see what this is...) and an Outhouse Cassette Tape. All ordering is done via a secure server so you don't have to worry about Internet theft. Your ordering information WILL NOT BE SOLD OR SHARED WITH OTHERS. We protect and respect your Privacy! You can browse in the store by clicking
    HERE.

       I read in the Comments to the Curator that there are folks looking for outhouse related things to decorate their outhouse (bathroom). The Country House catalog at www.thecountryhouse.com has outhouse stuff. The address is 805 E Main St., Salisbury, MD 21804. They have wallpaper borders, soap dishes, etc with outhouses on them.
       Here is another place to buy items: You can now find outhouse stuff in the "FAVORITES" catalog. Their address is PO Box 3335, Chelmsford, MA 01824-0935. Phone 1-800-221-1133.
    Karren M
       You can also check out The Outhouse in Lancaster, PA, for Outhouse articles including real ones! You may even find the Curator in one of them!

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  • Many outhouses had two (2) holes to sit on.
    Why did most outhouses contain two holes to sit on?


      Most outhouses contained two holes of DIFFERENT SIZES! There was a larger hole for the adults with big (you know whats) and there was a small hole for the children. Most children learned very early NOT to sit on the bigger hole unless they wanted to fall in!

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  • Why was there a bag with a scoop in it sitting somewhere in the outhouse?

      Hot off the presses, here is a chemist's answer to the lime question: "On the subject of which kind of lime was used in outhouses, the subject was glossed over a little too briefly, not in keeping with the general attention to details displayed in the rest of the outhouse treatises.
      "On the subject of which kind of lime was used in outhouses, the subject was glossed over a little too briefly, not in keeping with the general attention to details displayed in the rest of the outhouse treatises.
      First, the word "lime" itself has many definitions, making it a technically vague term. The word's meaning is determined by the context in which it is used. If discussing masonry, the definition of lime becomes the chemical compound calcium hydroxide, Ca{OH}2, also referred to as "slaked lime" or type S lime. If talking about the production of slaked lime, then the word's definition changes to another chemical compound, calcium oxide, CaO, called "quicklime". When slaked with water the quicklime undergoes a vigorous and dangerously heated chemical reaction with the water to form the slaked lime of masonry use. In agriculture the lime used for the fields is pulverized limestone, the material of which sea shells, marble, stalactites and stalagmites, and many mountains are composed. Chemically, limestone is calcium carbonate or CaCO3. Limestone is also the raw material from which quicklime is made, produced since antiquity in lime kilns where the limestone is heated to a bright red heat for several days to drive off its carbon dioxide. Slaked lime is also used in agriculture as part of a pesticide mixture called "lime-copper Bordeaux" that is sprayed on dormant fruit trees to control fungus infections. The slaked lime is also occasionally spread on fields, but its high cost makes widespread use of it for that purpose too prohibitive. Then yet again in agriculture there is another so-called lime used for sanitizing cow barns and chicken houses plus the equipment used in them for handling feed, milking, and watering that may become contaminated with manure. This is the erroneously labeled "chloride of lime" which in actuality is the chemical calcium hypochlorite, Ca{ClO}2. It is made by running chlorine gas into slaked lime (calcium hydroxide). The resulting material is not refined to eliminate byproducts and is simply sold as is. Although a dry white powder, its anti-bacterial properties are identical to the liquid household chlorine bleach we are all familiar with. So, which lime was used in outhouses? All of them at one time or another, but by far the most practical for killing germs is the erroneously named chloride of lime, which again correctly is calcium hypochlorite. This kept the stink down but it killed off all the bacteria so the contents of the outhouse pit never reduced biologically. The result of this was an uncomposted outhouse pit that filled up very rapidly. The way the "chloride of lime" was most efficiently used was the same way as for the animal husbandry sanitation and the way household bleach is used nowadays in modern bathrooms. That is, about a tablespoon in a gallon of water with which the outhouse seats, lids, fixtures, walls, and floors were washed and mopped to keep them very clean and free of germs.
      As far as another name for the outhouse goes, Mr. T. Hornbeck, a resident of a small town in Missouri, has referred to one as an "oath house"."
    Richard Allen, chemist and farmer
      Many outhouses had a bag of Lime with a scoop. Every so often the owner would throw a scoop of lime down the holes to help "digest" the contents below.
      Here is some additional information from a visitor to this site...
      The lime hole on an outhouse did not help "digest" the night soil. It tended to slow down the "digestion" by sweetening or decreasing the acidity and smell of the soil. This was more important in the summer (for obvious reasons). Lime was used similarly in potter's fields - mass grave yards for the poor, or for a large die-off during a plague. While the lime would burn the flesh, the stench was not as severe as with the natural acidity of rotting protein, urea, and amino acids.
    B. Thorneloe
      Here is another good question from a visitor: I found your FAQ page (and other interesting things) when I tried to find out what kind of lime to use in the outhouse.
      It looks as though in all agricultural projects, the AG LIME is being used, whereas in construction the Type S Lime is being used. I don't seem to be able to find out which to use for the outhouse. Do they both produce the same reaction? Are they equally good and sound for the purpose and with ground and water? Would greatly appreciate any suggestion or help. Thanks, Christa
    [Curator's Comment: Hi Christa,
      In all honesty, I don't know.
      That being said, I have to think back to what my grandmother would have bought. She lived on a farm in rural Minnesota. I have to assume she went up to the local hardware store or feed store and bought AG LIME. Maybe the S stands for "Sucker" and it is processed more finely? I'm sure you could do a search for Lime and find the answer. I don't really think it matters much which one you use...lime is lime.]

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  • How on earth did they clean out the Outhouse hole when it became full?

      Hi, [Note: Spelling is original] "My name is Erika, and I go to a Middle School in Ohio. I'm 15 years old and I'm a freshmen in High School. And I just got done reading your page about outhouses!! and it was very interesting. I'm doing a class assignment for school, but your web page didn't give me the information I was looking for, all thought I enjoyed it!!!! I'm not sure if you know the answer to my question, but if you do, could you please reply as soon as you get this and tell me if you do.
      My question is,, How did they clean them out back then???? I know its a really gross question, but I really need to know! So if you could, please e-mail me back, I'd appreciate it. Thanks for your time!!!"

      Hi Erika, They didn't! They waited until the hole was pretty full and then dug a new hole near the old one and moved the Outhouse over the new hole. The dirt was then put over the old hole's contents. The worms then ate all the material and as the dirt settled, more dirt was placed on top. John (The Outhouses of America Curator)

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  • What is a chicken switch and why would it stand just outside the door of an Outhouse?

      In the "backwoods" farms where they didn't have a pit, the switch was used to chase the chickens out from under the seat. The farmers always had a few chickens shut up in a coop and "stall fed" so they would have chickens to eat.
      Added note on chickens: When left to "fend" for themselves they are like vultures. They will eat anything that don't eat them first.
      Comment from a visitor to the Outhouses of America tour: "I really like your page. It is nice to have some real comedy for a change. So much so called comedy is just plain stupid. If they didn't put canned laughter on these TV sitcoms people wouldn't watch them because they aren't funny. Keep up the good work."

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  • Who was Chic Sales and what is The Specialist

      If you're ready for a few laugh's, read
    The Specialist by clicking HERE! It is one of the best stories you will ever read about Outhouses. If you're planning on building one, be sure to read this. It gives you tips about site location and reasons why.
      If you want even more entertainment, we now sell a CD or Cassette Tape with the entire Specialist story on it as told by a great storyteller. Enter the Store now and then click on the Tapes department.

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  • Were outhouses used by wealthy and famous in the mid-1800s?
      Of course they were! We all have to get rid of liquid and solid wastes.

  • Were they the plain little shack variety or fancy?
      That all depends. If you look through my site, you will find at least one victorian style outhouse and I have seen articles on other fancy ones. Most were out back and normal looking.
  • What would a "fancy" outhouse be like?
      The victorian outhouse I have on the site had a cupola on the roof and very fancy wood trim. Some modern day folks have made some real fancy outhouses recently. You can see some samples on the Outhouses of America Tour. Think about it. If they make fancy outhouses now, it would be reasonable to suspect that they made fancy outhouses in the 1800's.

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  • What on Earth is an Earth Closet?
       Rev. Moule's invention,
    The Earth Closet is a very interesting invention indeed.
       The Outhouses of America Tour would not be complete without reading all about it by clicking HERE!

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  • Outhouses have been called many things throughout the years.
    What are some of the names that Outhouses have been called in the past?


       I can remember my Grandma saying she was going to visit Aunt Susan (the outhouse) and my Grandpa would say he was going to visit the White House (the outhouse).
    Here at work we go downstairs to "send a fax to the president".
    Here are some other names and descriptions/explanations that people have
    dropped in the hole!
       My grandmother called the outhouse the "Garden House." It was screened from view by a canebreak through which ran a narrow path.
       Attached to the door of our outhouse is the name plate "Audi" from an Audi Fox.
       I was listening on the radio yesterday and the hosts of the show were talking about visiting in Maine.. When the plumbing got stopped up they had an out house to use.. The young lady on the show said she would go the the "Chic Sales".. Asked why she called it that she said she didn't know why it was called a "Chic Sales", but that was the term her mother used.. She would go the the Chic Sales.
       In rural Tennessee, the outhouse was called the "la-la".. Don't ask me why.
       The Henrietta, Nessy, Privy, Thunder Box, Crapper, Shitter, Back House, Shithouse, Der Scheisshaus (German), Water Closet, Outdoor Convenience, Mrs. Murphy, the john, roosevelt, monuments (after the president who put wpa workers to work to build them), dooley, necessary, the outback, Sears seat; As a child our outhouse was known as the "Sears booth" or some times referred to as the "Gas chamber", out back, Mr. Friendly, Aunt Nellie's, the wood pile (but then you were required to bring back an armload of firewood), the rosebush (but then you had to bring in a bouquet of flowers), the garden - for a pea; I always heard my older relatives refer to them as the "Little house behind the house!, The Library, The Ol' Shack, Captin Crunch, Dump Truck, Crab House, the necessary, the reading room; the throne or throne room; summer house ... some are men and some are women's, biffy, Office building - to take care of business; I remember my grandpa called the outhouse a "shiver shanty";
      "Mary Jane" ..my grandfather always called it Maryjane, as a kid I used to think she must have smelled awful for him to have named the backhouse after her...But the new out house that is the 3nd generation successer to Maryjane...well I still call Maryjane. Our church was built in 1840 and has a 2 holer inside, in the front by the pulpit, looks like a closet door from the pews. There is no divider between the seats and until the 60's there was no door. Modesty won out, they installed a door, but there is no clean out door and it is part of the building. Being backhouse fluent, I had to instruct the youngsters that they should put some lime in the hole, summertime shows no mercy and causes the air around the pulpit to become quite pungent.   My Dad still calls it the cat box, or sand box;
      Counting your change - needing to go to the office building and I'm sure there are many more.
      A comment from Australia: We call outhouses outback dunnies, outback is the name for the hinterland in Australia. I have a composting dunny in a house I have in Wittenoom in the north west, 1000 miles north of Perth.

      Some of the nicknames of some of the outhouses are: Crap Shooters, Stinky Chicken, Bowell Function Junction, Yeller Streak, and Pooter Scooter.
      My grandpa....always said "He was going to the Shitter", this always caused me to laugh hysterically.....for i was young and it was the only "cuss" word that i heard.
      My grandmother just said she was going to "see Mrs. Jones."
      One visitor writes "The post office"; also, toilet paper was called "tickets to the moon", in reference to the moon shaped windows.
      Another person says "My grandmother used to say she was going to the "closet""
      One more says "Italian Americans call a bathroom the "baccousa". This really isn't an Italian word. They heard Americans saying they were going to the "back house" and they thought the said baccousa.
      Yet another writes "A co-worker and I were having a funny conversation about outhouses this morning, and she said that, at her grandparents' summer home on an island in south-eastern Michigan, they called it "the rummacuster." Have you ever heard this term?"
      A Canadian writes "I am from New Brunswick, Canada. My family referred to their older outhouse as The Parliament Buildings (as in Ottawa, Canada's capitol). Yes, we had a newer, semi-indoor outhouse, too, at the rear of the woodshed. Referred to as "going Out Back".
      Also from Stokes Bay, Ontario, Canada "Here in Canada, when I visited my mother and her boyfriend at his fishing cottage in the late '50s, the outhouse was referred to as "The Parliament Building".
      Here's another one... "My husband's family called it the "Sunshine Mission". Like all well placed privies, it faced the east so that you could get the full effect of the morning sunshine on those cold, winter mornings. Just open the door and "let the sunshine in".
      This person writes "Oh, Crap! I forgot that "Out Back" had a more formal name. It was also called The Powder Room, and was decorated in great style by my eldest uncle.
      Yet another says "My Grandmother always called her trip to the outhouse 'going to the willow' because a large willow tree grew nearby! Jay in London PS Love your site
      An Arizonian tells me... "Our favorite was "Auntie Blossom". It was also said that someone was going to "Read the Sears catalog", for obvious reasons. Incidentally, we had a "three-holer" back on the farm in western NY. Two were regulation size cutouts and one was for the kids. Can't figure why a second adult size unless it was to provide for real togetherness! Thx for a very clever and cute website."
      "And one more for the road..."I remember back in the 50's in Tennessee, we called it the county house."
      "I can remember my Aunt calling it the Ice-House.
      "My stepdad used to say he was out back to "see a man about a dog".
      "when I was younger my dad would say "I am going to see a man about a horse" meaning he was going to the outhouse...".
      "We sometimes refer to it as the House of Parliament. Sometimes there is a filibuster when trying to pass legislation!
    At our cottage, the establishment was a short walk up a small hill so it was referred to as the Up House."
      "Yes there is another name for the good old reliable OUTHOUSE . The name that we always used for it was The Ruby Room. I am not sure how it came about but it sure seemed to fit. Sometimes when ya had a good case of the turkey trots, your backside got real red. My name is James Tolle and this is just another bit of outhouse lore.
      Someone wrote "An Arizonian tells me... "Our favorite was "Auntie Blossom". It was also said that someone was going to "Read the Sears catalog", for obvious reasons."
      My friend, from UPSTATE NY, said that Before Toliet Paper all the Locals used to Use the Sears Catalog as Toliet paper so Sears stated printing on Glossy Paper to stop people from doing that and force them to Actually read it!
      In the 1920s and 30s the name Chick Sale was actually used by many people when referring to an outhouse. eg I am going out to the chicksales. Cartoons always showed a crescent cut in the door.

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  • Many Outhouses built in the 1940's had gooseberry bushes planted somewhere in the vicinity, usually on either or both sides. Can you tell me why??

      To be quite honest with you, I can only speculate why gooseberry bushes would be planted near outhouses. Many times, planting of gooseberries was done for decorative purposes alongside box, rose, juniper, holly, and where else, but near the Outhouse. Also remember that in the 1940's, most farms had outhouses. One of the favorite pies among farmers after a hard day in the fields was a gooseberry pie. There were many other uses for gooseberries which included sauces for meat dishes, cooked as a broth and young tender leaves added to salads. The juice of green berries was said to calm inflammation. Lord knows there were many a folk with inflamed "dupas" after wiping with a corn cob!!! Gooseberries could also be used to make wine. The best varieties for wine were the three early red types, Great Yellow Dutch, Great White Dutch, Blue, Hedgehog and English Yellow. At one point, bushes were carefully nurtured with special compost mixtures. Needless to say, there was plenty of compost near the Outhouse and the roots were known to grow quite deep.

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  • What is the original Loose page?

    In 1996, this site was built for the first time and the original design of the Outhouses of America Tour along with many other things took shape. Return to the original page and look at how the web has changed over the years. You can also read about when the Curator managed a Little League baseball team and how 12 or so 8-11 year old's went from being terrible players in April to winning the championship in June! Visit the Original Loose Page!

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    Do you have any other questions you'd like included here?

    Stamp here to "dump" your questions to the official Outhouse Curator...be sure to include the phrase "Include in your FAQ page!" in the subject line.

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  • Can you please advise me how to go about getting my ham radio license? I really know nothing about it at this point -- don't have one or anything -- but am interested in starting up this interesting hobby.

      My best advice to you would be for you to check out the
    ARRL web site or better yet, look at this informative site!
      They have all kinds of information dealing with people interested in the hobby.
      In general, there are several classes of licenses with the highest called Extra. For the more advanced licenses, you will need to know Morse Code but now you only have to learn 5 words per minute (super easy). This can easily be learned using Super Morse, a computer program. The one you probably could start out with initially is called a no-code Technician. All you have to do is study multiple choice questions and take 2 tests with about 30 questions each and get around 80 % on each one. This will get you privileges on the 2 meter, 220 and 440 band and some others. There are repeaters all over the US for 2 meter and you can literally talk for 20 to 30 miles with just a hand held radio which will cost you from $100 to $400 depending on the features.
      There are study guides with all the questions and answers so it's pretty easy.
      Good luck!

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  • What accessories were found most often in outhouses?
  • What accessories should you put in your outhouse today?

      Thanks to Scott Thomas for these excellent answers:
      Toilet paper is stored inside a coffee can with a little rice in the bottom as a dessicant. This keeps the paper from getting damp and soggy if it rains for several days.
      Also, hedge apples in a box help keep spiders at bay.
      A flashlight is a nice addition, but not just any flashlight-it has to have the little metal ring to hang it on a nail with.
      Lighting is necessary, even if it's not hardwired. Friends of mine ran a shop extension cord and Goodwill store lamp to their shack-out-back.
      And of course, a magazine holder...and maybe a scented candle.
      Oh..and a latch on the inside, to insure against unwanted intrusions.

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  • Why are toilets called Water Closets?

      The person who asked the question came up with the logical answer: "I work in the Plumbing Inspection section of the Building Department for the Town of Ocean City, MD and no one seems to know. I thought it was because they took and existing closet and plumbed the toilet in there creating a "water closet." " Hmmmmmm, I think you may be correct!

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  • In the book "Cottage Water Systems" the brief on better backhouse building refers to a 4"x4" Lem Putt corner post, while the rest of the framing is standard 2"x 4". What is the purpose of the one 4x4" corner post?

    Below is an excerpt from the story about "The Specialist" in which the answer can be found (Thanks to T. Finlayson for the discovery!):
    ' You see I didn't want to act like I was buttin'in on their work: but I knowed all the time they was goin' to have trouble with that privy. And they did. From all outside appearance it was a regulation job, but not being experienced along this line, they didn't anchor her.

    "You see, I put a 4 by 4 that runs from the top right straight on down five foot into the ground. That's why you never see any of my jobs upset Hallowe'en night.

    They might pull 'cm out, but they'll never upset em.

    "Here's what happened: They didn't anchor theirs, and they painted solid red -two bad mistakes.

    "Hallowe'en night come along, darker than pitch. Old man Clark was out in there. Some of them devilish nabor boys was out for no good, and they upset 'er with the old man in it.

    You can read the entire poem
    on our web site here but this section was left out for some reason.
      The person who asked the question came up with the logical answer: "I work in the Plumbing Inspection section of the Building Department for the Town of Ocean City, MD and no one seems to know. I thought it was because they took and existing closet and plumbed the toilet in there creating a "water closet." " Hmmmmmm, I think you may be correct!

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    The Outhouses of America Tour was created on Thanksgiving Day
    Thursday November 28, 1996!