Neighbors: And now, recollections about a delicate subject: outhouses

Here is something about a rather delicate topic: the old outhouse.It comes from Joel Melarvie, Mandan, N.D., who writes that a Neighbors column about living in a log cabin years ago stirred up memories of having to use an outhouse on his uncle an...
Bob Lind, Neighbors columnist for The ForumMichael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Bob Lind, Neighbors columnist for The ForumMichael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

Here is something about a rather delicate topic: the old outhouse.

It comes from Joel Melarvie, Mandan, N.D., who writes that a Neighbors column about living in a log cabin years ago stirred up memories of having to use an outhouse on his uncle and aunt's farm north of Mandan in the 1940s.

His uncle and aunt were the late Norman and Edna Jacobson.

"They had a two-holer located about 100 feet from the side entrance of the 'big' house," Joel writes.

"Using the outhouse in the summer wasn't too bad except for the smell and bothersome flies."

But "wintertime was a chilling challenge for a number of reasons," he writes, "including the frozen seats and the wind blowing through the board lumber walls. And there you sat, with your pants rolled down to your ankles. And the snowdrifts sometimes blocked the door.

"We weren't grownups, so we didn't have the privilege of a bed pan like the adults.

"The torn pages of a Sears Roebuck catalogue, wrinkled from rolling them in our hands to soften them, was our standard method of wiping ourselves, and it was always a treat to be able to have a supply of soft tissue squares, leftovers from a trip to town to pick up, among other things, crates of peaches, all of which came wrapped in the tissue.

"The peaches were canned for the winter and the tissue wrapping went immediately to the outhouse.

"I am sure many of your readers have precious memories of the outhouses they had to use early in their lives," Joel says.

Do you, readers? And if you do, would you term them "precious?"

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107, fax it to 241-5487 or email blind@forumcomm.com.