The Best Things About Rural Outhouses

Rural outhouses had many practical and economical qualities.

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I told my grandchildren that I was looking forward to reading about outhouses. They think one would be great and want me to tell all about them.

I described the outhouse as having been built in many different styles. Early American, Dutch, French Provincial, and Spanish. They were generally placed where the wind could hit them from all sides. Occasionally they were placed under a shade tree. We lived one place where it was tacked on to the far side of the chicken house. I think I will skip over the bad things, such as flies, wasps and snakes.

The good things I remember are:

1) The speed with which it served its customers. No one ever had to stand in line. Extreme cold or sweltering heat hurried them along.

2) They were very economical; one sack of lime each spring was the total expense. During the Depression this was a great help. 3) Country schools that could afford toilet tissue got a 3A rating in my book.

4) They furnished a lot of entertainment for the young people on Halloween each fall.

Maybe you young ones of today have missed a few things after all.

Rebecca Swafford
Savannah, Missouri


Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.