A Two-Holer Outhouse of Memories

Reader Contribution by The Mother Earth News Editors
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This story is from Barbara Lee and submitted as part of our Wisdom From Our Elders collection of self-sufficient tales from yesteryear.

In memory of Grandpa —

I am not yet 50, but remember as a child (in or around 1970-72) visiting my grandma in Indiana and going out to the two-holer outhouse. When I asked her why she didn’t have a bathroom like us and why her outhouse had two seats — Yeww! — her reply was something like this:

Well, we don’t use the spring water that is plumbed into the house for anything that is wasteful and isn’t necessary. We here in this part of the country are still a bit old fashioned. We have two seats ’cause it is a little less scary to come out here after dark with a grandma or a sister. We planted peonies ’round and up that hill, so in the morning sun, it smells better and ’cause they are my favorite. Your grandpa knew that! He built it sitting out on the edge of the yard here next to the woods so that when the breeze blows the bad smells go down the hill. And in the morning, you can hear all the critters in the woods waking up.

Then there are also the memories of your grandpa. While he built this one (to replace the old one on the other side of the yard there), I remember bringing him sun tea and us sitting there in the yard taking a break. I remember him smiling at me and telling me he was building this new one for me, so it would be clean and smell good for a long time. We made plans of planting peonies around it and what color we would paint it. Never did paint it, but I like it this way because it reminds me of your grandpa. See that door is taller than most cause your grandpa was taller than most!

Several years later she had a well dug and a bathroom added on to the house, but until she moved to Oregon (early ’80s) with us, she used her two-holer outhouse every morning. And so did I when I went to visit.

My husband and I are in the process of buying a home, and I will have a two-holer outhouse built for emergencies and memories! And yes, I will have peonies planted ’round.

Photo by Fotolia/Wild Geese

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