The Privy Builder of Sangoman County

A humorous excerpt from the book of fiction The Specialist. This story from the book is about the privy builder of Sangoman County.

| March/April 1986

  • 098-106-01
    "Now," I sez, "how do you want that door to swing? Openin' in or out?" He said he didn't know. So I sez it should open in.
    ILLUSTRATION: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

  • 098-106-01

Gentlemen, you are face-to-face with the champion privy builder of Sangoman County.
Chic Sale 

I drives out to Elmer's place, gettin' there about dinner time. I knocks a couple of times on the door and I see they got a lot of folks to dinner, so not wishin' to disturb 'em, I just sneaks around to the side door and yells, "Hey, Elmer, here I am; where do you want that privy put?"

Elmer comes out and we get to talkin' about a good location. He was all fer puttin' her right alongside a jagged path runnin' by a big Northern Spy.

"I wouldn't do it, Elmer," I sez, "and I'll tell you why. In the first place, her bein' near a tree is bad. There ain't no sound in nature so disconcertin' as the sound of apples droppin' on th' roof. Then another thing, there's a crooked path runnin' by that tree, and the soil there ain't adapted to absorbin' moisture. Durin' the rainy season she's likely to be slippery. Take your grandpappy — goin' out there is about the only recreation he gets. He'll go out some rainy night with his nighties flappin' around his legs, and like as not when you come out in the mornin' you'll find him prone in the mud, or maybe skidded off one of them curves and wound up in the corn crib. No, sir," I sez, "put her in a straight line with the house and, if it's all the same to you, have her go past the woodpile. I'll tell you why.

"Take a woman, fer instance — out she goes. On the way back she'll gather five sticks of wood, and the average woman will make four or five trips a day. There's twenty sticks in the woodbox without any trouble. On the other hand, take a timid woman, if she sees any men folks around, she's too bashful to go direct out, so she'll go to the woodpile, pick up the wood, go back to the house, and watch her chance. The average timid woman — especially a new hired girl — I've knowed to make as many as ten trips to the woodpile before she goes in, regardless. On a good day you'll have your woodbox filled by noon, and right there is a savin' of time.



"Now, about the diggin' of her. You can't be too careful about that," I sez. "Dig her deep and dig her wide. It's a mighty sight better to have a little privy over a big hole than a big privy over a little hole. Another thing; when you dig her deep you've got her dug; and you ain't got that disconcertin' thought stealin' over you that sooner or later you'll have to dig again.

"And about her roof," I sez. "I can give you a lean-to type or a pitch roof.






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