Grandma's Outhouse


This outhouse belonged to both Grandpa and Grandma (Arthur and Annie LaBrant), but I only thought of it as hers. If she needed to use it, she'd say, "I'm going west." The outhouse is west of the house, but as a kid, I never understood why she said that. Not a deep analyzer, I never asked why. I just knew that's what Grandma called going to the bathroom.

This is a recent picture, taken in June. Grandpa and Grandma had a cistern and a bathroom put in the house in (I think) 1967, and no longer used this. It's nailed shut, so I don't have a picture of the inside.

Pioneers often made light-weight outhouses. When the hole filled up, they'd dig another and move the house. I don't ever remember this one in a different location. Grandpa did things right, so he probably dug a deep hole.

Many had two toilet holes, probably handy for big families. The history behind two-holers was for different sized behinds. One for adults, one for kids. The ones in the picture below look about the same to me. I don't recall the churchs' outhouses (both Dave's childhood church in Rosburg, WA, and mine in Belden, ND) having different sizes.

In colonial days, to assist illiterate people, a moon cutout was sometimes made for women, and a star for men. These also provided light and ventilation.

I don't remember the outhouses at the Belden church being marked for gender. We just knew women to the south, men to the north. They are gone now--the church has running water these days--but they were in use until 2001. Our daughter Jana remembers conversations with her cousins in the old Belden outhouse, a fun and unique experience for her generation.

Toilet paper was a luxury in the old days. Newspaper strips were used, and the nice thick Sears Roebuck catalog came in handy.

This is what's left of the Hartstrom outhouse. Quite fancy with the cement, it must have been more recent. The walls obviously have long since deteriorated.

Some memories of times gone by are fonder than others. Our son Nathan drew this for me almost twenty years ago, adding the bathrobe and slippers to be goofy. (Oops, the door has a moon ... .)

#NorthDakota #outhouses #outdoortoilets #twoholers

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