VIEW STOP 14 SCRIPT
Hello, this is Bessie again, Ella’s older sister. I took most of these old photos with my Kodak Brownie camera in the 1920s. I was born in 1880. This building hasn’t changed a bit since then. Not until 1926, when electricity finally reached the farm, were we able to install a small bathroom in the Homestead. Before that, it was necessary for us to use this outhouse. Indeed, back then the outhouse was often referred to as “the necessary.”
It sure was cold coming out hee-aa in the winter. I well remember that famous blizzard of 1888. I was only seven at the time, but how can you forget those drifts that were three times as tall as I? They were so deep that , instead of digging a path, Pa excavated a tunnel to get to the outhouse!
Inside there are four seats, but, goodness me, that doesn’t mean the family all used it together. Heaven forbid! But sometimes, especially cold winter nights when it was too scary to go out alone, I would go out with my sisters. I had three of them of them, you know, Georgia, Eula and Ella.
The outhouse fit into what you might call a “sustainability system” in two ways. I know you will think me immodest mentioning these things, but I want you to really understand what life was like. First, in the days before toilet paper was invented or affordable, we saved old corn cobs or old newspapers to be used for the same purpose. The bin for corn cobs still survives just inside the front door.
Walk around to the back and you will see the second form of what you would call “recycling.” Beneath the seats was a cement-lined pit. My brother shoveled the contents out from time to time and used it like farmyard manure to fertilize our fields. Why do you think this recycling practice is not used today?
Unlike septic systems in your time, the outhouse used no water and did not threaten to leach nitrates into the groundwater. To lessen smells and reduce flies, we sprinkled lime after each use. Every outhouse always had a bucket of lime with an old tin can for a scoop. We reused those tin cans too!
Now, walk back towards the house and around to the front of the wood house that is just to your left.