Letter to the Editor

Outhouses: Proper architecture and accessories

Friday, April 10, 2009

There are certain topics that -- no matter how hard you try -- are impossible to write a serious news article about. Often those are the topics that end up as columns on the Opinion Page. Such is the case with the Buffalo Commons Storytelling First Tuesday Gathering this week. The topic was "outhouses."

Even though I have recently celebrated another birthday, I am still too young to really appreciate the beauty and variety that an outhouse can bring to one's life. But the fine folks who shared their considerable knowledge of the subject at the Gathering led me to a new understanding.

A local outhouse authority, Mr. Ron Stuhmer of McCook, made a fine presentation, complete with slideshow. Who knew there were so many decisions to make when constructing a new outhouse? A few of the finer points I took notes on include:

The roof can either be lean-to or pitch. Lean-to is probably better because there are two fewer corners for wasps to build their nests in.

Furnishing can include a hook for a catalog or a box for the cobs. Stuhmer recommends adding both.

The latch could be a spool and string, or a hook and eye, the latter being a lot more reliable.

Ventilators (the designs cut into the door) can be stars crescents, or sometimes newlyweds request hearts. They all serve the same purpose.

A major decision is whether to have the door swing in or swing out -- there are pros and cons both ways.

Probably the best advice Mr. Stuhmer offered was the fact that "it is better to have a little privy over a big hole than to have a big privy over a little hole."

The mischief that involves outhouses is enough to put any modern-day Senior prank to shame.

While I'd love to share the complete story involving Lee Janssen and his club of upstanding McCook citizens called the Envoys, there's no way I could do it justice in print. You really have to hear Lee tell the story.

Besides, we all know that Lee talks way faster than I could take notes. So we posted a video of his story on our Web site, www.mccookgazette.com. And we apologize for the shakiness in parts of the video -- it's impossible to hold a camera still when you are laughing.

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  • It is impossible to have a real authentic out-house, anymore. The Sears catalog is too expensive, and I think the paper has changed into something unusable.

    Just a thought. Arley Steinhour heh heh heh

    -- Posted by Navyblue on Fri, Apr 10, 2009, at 9:08 PM
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