Darald Paulson, Trail, Minn., which is between Thief River Falls and Bemidji, Minn., has gotten a kick out of the many outhouse stories “Neighbors” has published over the years. So he put together the miniature outhouse you see here and sent it in.
He calls it a “Swedish 2-holer,” because one hole is directly beneath the other one. He hastens to say that he is part Swedish (as well as part Norwegian), so he hopes Swedes don’t take offense at this.
“I’m 50,” he writes, “and I remember very well using my grandparents’ outhouse.”
Now here’s an outhouse story Darald also sent in.
“Several years ago,” he writes, “we were deer hunting. We happened to have a gal from Bemidji with us.
“We were walking by the home of an elderly bachelor. He had no indoor plumbing, but he had an old shack for an outhouse.
“Well, the gal with us had to go.
“She thought the place was vacant.
“Everyone told her to just use the outhouse, and she agreed.
“How were we to know that the outhouse was currently occupied by the old bachelor?
“She swung open the old door. All we heard was a loud scream when she realized someone was sitting in there! I think it really scared her and maybe the old guy as well!
“We still laugh about this many years later!”
Now here’s a story which was sent in by Annette Kisser, Circle Pines, Minn., north of St. Paul.
“I grew up on a small farm in southeastern North Dakota. We did not have indoor plumbing until we left there,” she writes, then gives some of her family history.
“We went to church in Rutland, N.D., seven miles away, and school in Havana, N.D., five miles away,” she writes.
“We left the area in 1961 after my father passed away. This left my mother with a 10-year-old car, a 10-year-old combine, $200 in the bank and five children, four under 18.
“She used the car and combine as collateral to borrow money from the bank. She borrowed a similar amount from my uncle.
“She and I drove the 90 miles to Fargo, and she bought a house. Ten days later we went back to Fargo and she got a job as a special diets cook at St. Luke’s Hospital for $150 a month. She then stayed in Fargo with friends since she had to go to work right away.
“My older brothers were both hired hands at neighbors’ farms, so I was home with two sisters, 12 and 8. I was 16 and had the responsibility of caring for my sisters, packing up the house for moving and butchering as many chickens as I could for food after the move to the big city.
“I started 11th grade the month after moving, going from a class of 12 students to a class of 600 at Fargo Central High School.
“We also had $100 per month from Social Security to aid with expenses.
“On the farm, we raised and canned everything we ate, and raised our own meat. Now it all had to be purchased. Thankfully, the hospital allowed Mom to bring home leftover food. Few people know how many different ways you can prepare leftover mashed potatoes!
“Our first outhouse,” Annette continues, “was a two-holer, made of aged wood which had never seen paint, with the door facing the kitchen window. We kids always left the door open!
“Mom hated the fact that this view was what she saw when she looked out the kitchen window. So when a wind storm came through and blew the outhouse over, she was delighted.
“There was an outhouse for sale by someone in Rutland who no longer needed it. What a great model! It had a cement floor rather than a wooden one like the old one.
“We painted it white inside and out, and it was placed out of view of the kitchen window. Mom also made certain the door was faced away from the house!
“I will have to admit I really appreciated having indoor plumbing at age 16, and still do today.”
Annette adds a note about an old two-story house in Belle Plaine, Minn., which has a catwalk from the second floor to the top part of an outhouse.
“How wonderful it must’ve been to go such a short distance during the night!” she says.
For sure, Annette!
If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107, fax it to 701-241-5487 or email email@example.com.