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Posts Tagged ‘outhouse’

It’s a new year and here in Vicksburg, it still has the new year smell. I’ve been settling in here in Mississippi and loving every minute of it. Well, maybe not every single minute, we did have the hot snap in December (80 degrees at Christmas?), but for the most part, LOVING it! (The irony of that is that where I used to live in California, they had snow on Christmas day for the first time in like 12 years. Go figure.)

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Anyway, they definitely do things different here in the south. For instance, when I went to get my new driver’s license, they handed it to me right then and there. No waiting weeks for it to arrive in the mail, hoping it didn’t get lost or stolen. No written or driving test. Nothing. Just, “here you go.” I didn’t even have to wait in line at the DMV. (And – bonus – it’s right across the street so I could walk over.)

Same thing with the car registration; I walked in, handed them some basic paperwork and BAM, they handed me a bright shiny new license plate. On the spot. No waiting. No mailing. Again, I walked right up to the window. No taking a number, no standing in line, no internet appointment necessary.

I know – weird. All my California folks will know exactly what I’m talking about.

And here’s a strange thing – daily operations here cease on holidays and Sundays. No signs posted in the windows, no ads announcing holiday hours, just lights out and locked doors. That took some getting used to. If you want to go out to eat on Sunday, you have about one choice – Cracker Barrel. (Or the casinos – need I say more.) I think that’s kind of cool though. A lot of guests here at the inn don’t get it, but I’m getting used to it. Sundays are church and family days.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

I also find myself saying things here that I never imagined I’d ever say in California. Here’s a short list:

1 – There’s an alligator in the backyard. (No, this hasn’t happened but it’s entirely possible and even very probable with the river already above flood stage. Stay tuned.)

2 – We have to get ready for Mardi Gras. (That’s right, even though we’re 2 1/2 hours away from New Orleans, Mardi Gras’s a big deal here.)

3 – Are you taking the Trace? (Referring to the Natchez Trace highway. It’s basically “the back road.” Not sure why it’s called a Trace, but it is and I like saying it. For more information visit here: http://www.nps.gov/natr/index.htm)

4 – It’s time to polish the silver again. (Really? Polish silver? Yup. About every 3 months that stuff has to be shined up.)

5- I’m in the parlor. (The parlor? How cool does that sound? Who even has a parlor these days?)

6 – This ballroom is hard to heat. (I have a freaking ballroom!!)

7 – You want to see my outhouse? (See this post https://jansenschmidt.wordpress.com/2015/11/30/a-peek-at-my-rare-2-story-4-hole-outhouse/ for more details in case you missed it earlier.)

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

How about you readers, ever find yourself saying things that sounded foreign at one time, but now seem natural? Ever been on the Natchez Trace? Ever polished silver? Inquiring minds want to know.

Word of the Day: Uraeus

Fun fact about me: I want to host a ball. Seriously, I want to have a ball in my ballroom.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, January 2016. Photos courtesy Google Imgaes.

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Most of you know about outhouses. Some of you have probably even used one at one point in your life. I’m not talking about the port-a-potty johns at the county fair either, I’m talking about the real life wooden structures with a bench seat inside.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

I’m sure you’re familiar with how these contraptions work; you dig a hole and place your little house over the hole. When said hole is full, you dig another one someplace else, move the house and throw dirt over the almost full former sewage hole. That is why outhouses were portable.

Well folks, the lady who designed my house (Leona Baer), had a different idea for her privvies. You see, she did not want her elite socialite friends and distinguished guests to have to trapise out into the elements to use the outhouse. Oh no, that would be a disgrace. She insisted that her privvies be attached to the house and under a covered walkway (aka porch). And, of course, there had to be a mens and a ladies facility. No co-ed for Ms. Leona Baer. No sirree.

Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

Women's side of outhouse at Baer House Inn. Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

Women’s side of outhouse at Baer House Inn. Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

Men's side of outhouse at Baer House Inn. Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

Men’s side of outhouse at Baer House Inn. Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

Notice that the ladies side is much bigger than the mens? That’s because ladies wore hoop skirts and needed more room to negotiate around and get everything settled into place. Imagine trying to use the facilities shown above wearing this:

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Now, having your outhouse attached to your house is certainly convenient, but it created a huge problem: what to do when the holes got full. Well, obviously, you clean them out. Say what? Shovel s$%@? I know. Right? Who is God’s name wants that job? But, shovel s$%@ someone did. You see, Leona had workers dig a pit, a cistern if you will, and covered it with a permanent structure that sat very close to the house (not completely attached) but connected by an extension of the porch. She really created a very primative septic system, minus the leach lines.

Here’s a picture of the downstairs portion of this structure. This shot is taken from the farthest end of the porch where the men’s privy was (the door on the left) looking back toward the back door of the house on the first floor.

Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

But, wait, there’s more.

If you will remember, the title of this blog mentioned a 2-story, 4-hole outhouse. Two stories? Yes, my friends – two stories. One hole on the ground level and one hole above it on the second story. Here’s how my second story porch looks. The privvies are through that little doorway at the end of the porch.

Upstairs porch and walkway to privy. Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

Upstairs porch and walkway to privy. Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

Notice the white lattice work at the end of the porch? Well, that would be the enclosure. You can see the 2 doorways at the very end of the hallway.

2nd story outhouse at Baer House Inn. Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

2nd story outhouse at Baer House Inn. Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

Here’s what it looks like from afar. The privvies are enclosed by that white lattice on both floors.

Baer House Inn 2-story outhouse. Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

Baer House Inn 2-story outhouse. Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

How do these things work you ask? Well, on level one of the house, a person walks in about 2 feet and encounters the hole. On the second level, a person walks in about 4 feet before encountering the hole. Now, mind you, there is a wall directly behind the hole on the ground level so nothing falls down upon you from above, but you can hear everything directly behind your head that falls from above. I know . . . how pleasant.

Why two stories? Well, thank you for asking. You see, Ms. Baer felt that her family should not mix and mingle with her esteemed guests, so much so that the children and servants were relegated to the second floor. But not just during parties or social events. Oh no. No, no, no. Children had to remain upstairs ALL THE TIME. They were never allowed downstairs. They even have their own set of outside stairs in the event they needed to leave the house. They were not allowed to enter or exit the home through the first floor. There had to have been a lot of this going on:

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Not being allowed downstairs created a problem when little Sarah, or little Samuel had to use the facilities. So, Leona fixed the problem by creating their very own privvies on the second floor. The added bonus? If Leona needed to use the bathroom during the middle of the night, she did not have to go all the way downstairs and outside, she simply walked along the upstairs porch to her own private penthouse privy.

Now this structure, that is original to the home, is still standing and part of our house. Of course we don’t use it, but it’s here for everyone to see and admire. The downstairs portion has been repurposed into a very nice, very modern bathroom as part of room number 8, but the original outside doors are still in place. The privy doors are on the left in this picture and the door into room number 8 is on the right.

Room 8, Baer House Inn. Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

Room 8, Baer House Inn. Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

 

Room 8 bathroom (former 1st floor outhouse). Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

Room 8 bathroom (former 1st floor outhouse). Photo by P. Rickrode. November 2015.

So tell me dear readers, have you ever seen a 2-story outhouse? Would you have wanted to have the job of cleaning out the poop cistern? Somebody had to do it. Yuck.

Word of the Day: Odurate

Fun fact about me: My uncle had a cabin in upstate Minnesota with no indoor plumbing and we had to use the outhouse whenever we visited. Good times.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, November 2015. Original photos by P. Rickrode. Stock photos courtesy Google Images.

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