The Outhouse Rules – York County, circa 1935
This “his and hers” outhouse, dated 1886, associated with a Myerstown, Lebanon County, home is a cut or two above those available to thousands of York countians before the day of indoor plumbing. Still the nearby house had running water. A cistern on the third floor caught rain to provide tap water within the house. This photo appeared in the York Daily Record/Sunday News’ “Spaces” magazine. Background posts: One-room school reunions preserve educational culture of thousands of York countians, What’s a privy? a woman asked. ‘It’s an outhouse,’ came the answer., Imagine: 70-foot boat navigated York County’s Codorus Creek and Wheatland Mansion tour: ‘We don’t know if President Buchanan used the tub.’
From the audience’s point of view, the highlight of my recent presentation on one-room schools was not the one-room schools.
Their focus fell on one-room buildings of a different type.
The best way to get a talk in York County derailed is to bring up the topic of privies. In fact, it’s better to bring it up yourself so you have a modicum of control. When you talk about past ways of life in York County, that topic will eventually rise to the surface.
One of the retired educators attending the speech, Jim Rudisill, told about a 16-holer at Camp Pamadeva, near Smith Station in southwestern York County. That was 16 on the boys’ side and 16 on the girls’ side, situated back to back.
Hmm, that makes 32 holes.
I noted that people buy rustic, pre-used outhouses for a fine price. But wait, wonder if the national economic crisis has imploded those prices, too.
After the speech, Ginny Cederberg, another retiree, shared some rules for use of the outhouse.
They came courtesy of her grandfather from about the year 1935 and prepared for Ginny’s creative writing group:
1. Knock before you enter – (cannot be locked when inside.)
2. Do not stay long (we only have one (1) outhouse.)
3. Even though it is a two-seater, do not visit with your friends too long. (Are you listening Nin and Maxine?)
4. Do not look at the pictures in the Sears and “Monkey Ward” catalogs. (They are for using, not looking.)
5. Do not use too many pages of the catalogs. They are not easy to come by.
6. Please do not drop foreign objects down the holes. Grandpa will not, repeat, not try to retrieve any more toys.
7. Help keep the outhouse clean. Before leaving, sprinkle a little lime powder down the hole.
8. Remember to put down the lid!
9. Lock the door when leaving. That indicates no one is inside.
10. Last but not least, if you cannot follow these rules, sneak next door and use theirs!</blockquote