04 January 2011

Modern Conveniences


It says a lot about what to expect in the coming year of blogging when the first post of the new year is about toilets.

When we bought the farm a year ago I was intrigued by the little outhouse in the backyard. I can't say that I always wanted a farm with an outhouse-I'm not that nuts. But it was a nice relic of by-gone days and certainly added to the rural charm. And I figured....it may even come in handy.

So, though the little building was in excellent shape already, I set out to complete minor restoration this summer that resulted in a fresh coat of paint and securing the metal roof. A friend saw the building and said "that's a WPA toilet". Well, I have heard of these, and know of one other in the county. She got down on her knees in the privy and pointed out the stamped mark on the concrete base. Sure enough she said...."a WPA".

The New Deal encouraged things other than public building construction, it also encouraged through the offering of labor, improved rural sanitation via a new outhouse. The WPA had teams of men who would go out into rural areas and build the standard, government approved, privy. The most intriguing story concerning this I found at this link: http://www.eagleplume.com/Outhouse.htm It gives an account of how the WPA Privy came to be the most widely recognized outhouse form all due to some frank nagging to FDR.

So, at roughly 80 years of age, this little building has a warmer place in my heart today than it did a year ago. I may even re-electrify it....yep, that's right, the little building has a small wire and insulator attached to the side indicating that indeed, even at night, one could relieve themselves in the comfort of an improved and lighted, modern privy.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

how are you going to replace the Sears and Roebuck catalog?

Jeff said...

Surprisingly interesting.

vanilla said...

...or even one from Monkey Wards for that matter. Catalog, that is.

Anonymous said...

To further put your privy in working order may I suggest that you plant an original style air freshener, a Lilac bush or two.

Ah Vanilla, the Monkey Ward Catalog, that made me think of my Dad. He always referred to them as Monkey Wards, Sears and Sawbuck,and JC Pennet' ( with a french accent)