The Makings of a Fancy Outhouse

Some rural outhouses were fancier than others with curtains and regular cleanings.

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A friend's description of her family's outhouse in mid-Minnesota, some 60 years ago, proved very interesting.

A lengthy pathway in natural stone led to the little house, she said, a joy in summer, but extra long in winter. Dense vines of pink and lavender flowers climbed the trellis at its entrance, with no need of closing the door. She remembers the hum of bees and fragrance of peach and plum trees that grew close by. It was a good place to be alone and meditate, she added. Paneled wainscotting lined the bottom of the "fancy" outhouse, with blue walls above. It was her job, she said, to make a new curtain, when needed, for the one window. There were three holes, small, medium and large.

Tissue-like wrappings from peaches and other boxed fruit were saved from canning season. These were neatly flattened by the children and pushed onto a spindle (a large nail hammered thru a board from beneath).

Once a year, a man was hired to topple the house, and clean it out. There was a $10 fee, quite a little for that time. When the job was finished, lye was added, and sometimes ashes, to keep it "sweet."

Marjorie Lundell
Casa Grande, Arizona


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.