Privy

I got wondering what the derivation of “privy” was, and the dictionary told me, "Middle English prive, from Anglo-French privé, from Latin *privatus *private.

OK, as a kid I used two-holers and three-holers.

So, how many Dopers are old enough and rustic enough to have every used these? Did you use the Monkey-Ward catalog for paper, or were you more civilized? Or even corn cobs?

My grandparents lived out in the sticks in Southern Oregon. No services. Their water came from a spring, sewage went to a septic tank, refrigerators ran on propane, and electricity was provided by a generator, which grandpa would start up when it got dark. When it ran out of gas, it was bedtime. (Or stay up a bit longer with the 12v lights.)

Their house, and the handyman’s house, had bathrooms. But they also had a little 10x20 cabin in the middle of the field they called The Mansion. It had an outhouse. Fortunately, toilet paper came on rolls.

My dad used to describe moderate-to-severe turbulence as being ‘rough as a cob’. It took me a while before I understood the origin.

One road trip with my first husband we went to Oregon via Idaho, and the first labeled rest area on whichever road it was we took was a 2 hole privy for each sex. If you wanted to wash your hands you had to jump a fence and use a trough as long as the bull wasn’t in the pasture. This was in 1989, and they did have toilet paper.

I have a friend who has a summer cottage that had a one hole privy until he decided to upgrade to a composting toilet. he got tired of digging holes and moving the privy every spring.

When I was a kid (I was in 6th grade, so 1970-ish), my family vacationed for a week in one of the “rustic cabins” in Seneca State Forest in WV. The rustic cabins had no electricity or running water. There was a fireplace and gas lights, a wood-fired cook stove, a hand pump near the back porch for water, and, of course, an outhouse. I can’t remember if it was a one- or two-holer, but going out there after dark was definitely NOT my favorite thing. I’m pretty sure we didn’t have chamber pots, so if you had to go in the middle of the night, you grabbed a flashlight and went to the outhouse.

Great Aunts still lived in the family home in 1955. One hole outhouse out back. They at least had toilet paper. So, yeah, I"ve been there.

My mom says one of the houses she lived in as a kid, between 1955 and 1965, had an outhouse. This was in suburban Ohio.

When I was in Girl Scouts in the 80s we not only had to USE a latrine but CLEAN the latrines before we left camp. Not clean the waste bit, but make sure the seats were clean, eradicate bugs and cobwebs, and sweep the floor. It sucked but it sure beat having to do our business in the wilderness!

This summer I went to a little get-together at a shelter on my friend’s grandpa’s farm. The shelter decent, like you’d see in any small-town park. I guess when they use the shelter for big events they rent a Port-O-Potty. But for our get-together, we had to use grandad’s home-made latrine. It was a “two holer.” From what I could tell, the holes led down into the Cuyahoga River. I manned up and used the thing twice rather than go home early.

When I was a Boy Scout we used a latrine, and we cleaned it daily. Lots of disinfectant.

Still did nothing about the smell…

I’ve used dozens of them. Most notably on one of my grandparents farm. They had no indoor bathroom until the mid-60s. Toilet paper of course (this being modern times). Other farm relatives had an outhouse in addition to indoor facilities. So if you’re out working you don’t have to worry about tracking muck into the house.

Lots of camping sites, remote parks, and such. Also in my berry picking days of youth.

Most established backcountry campsites have privies. I’ve built and moved many of them. The group I’ve worked with (Dartmouth Outing Club) takes great pride in making fanciful outhouses and we’ve had versions that were based on cars, churches, 5-sided, ones with stairs, safety restraints, and a fold down chessboard between two opposing seats.

Like Telemark said ------- I still use them and have helped make a few. None super-artistic but I have seen such.

I’ve used one years ago at a cabin in the woods. Never been to a house that had one.

A friend of mine has a cabin in the woods with an outhouse. It’s a fairly nice outhouse, with an actual toilet seat inside.

He has the habit of taping one of those musical greeting cards to the door so that the card plays.

So one dark night, I stumble out of the cabin to use the outhouse. I pick my way down the path, half-asleep. I open the door. . .

To the strains of the Mexican Hat Dance.

Back in the 50s, the interstate/freeway rest stops all had privies. And oh man, did they stink!

My folks like outhouse trivia, postcards, calendars, books, and the like. The switchplate in their (indoor) bathroom is shaped like an outhouse.

Amongst the wall decorations is a small, cross-stitiched sampler, with a picture of an outhouse at night. The motto says:

On a could dark night,
In a sleepy haze,
Be glad these ain’t
The good old days!

I’ve never used a privy, but I have had the opportunity to use a chamber pot. The need, I’m happy to say, was not pressing.

I used to spend summers at my brother’s house. It had no running water and an outhouse out back. He did have toilet paper, at least. At night, they had a chamber pot to pee in so you wouldn’t have to get dressed to go out in the cold.

In Vietnam, all we had were outhouses. We had a 4-holer, since we were the guys who usually built the 2-holers for the jarheads. We would point to it with pride, of course. These didn’t have pits underneath them of course: each hole had a cut-down 55-gallon drum with diesel fuel in it. When it got too full, dump in a cup of gasoline and light it off (after removing from the structure, of course).

The first half of my third grade year (1958-1959) was spent in a two room school with an outhouse in the back yard. One building divided into a boy’s side and a girl’s side. As I remember, it wasn’t as foul as many porta johns I’ve been in lately.

My grandparents had a cottage in rural Ohio that had an outhouse & a pump for water when I was growing up. The smell was better than most porta-johns, but I think that had something to do with the bucket of lime by the door to spread after you did your business.

I lived in a farmhouse that didn’t have indoor plumbing 50 years ago. We only lived there a year. Also, the rest areas in Michigan along the freeways for a long time were ‘rustic’, as well as the facilities in state parks. I don’t remember anything other than toilet paper being used, but I was only 3 at the time so I might not have noticed. I’m trying to remember if there was a moon on the door :smiley:

eta: I agree on the smell. I remember holding my breath but it was no where near as rank as a port-a-john. For one thing, they were bigger with better air circulation.

In my parents’ second house, in a small Saskatchewan town in the sixties, we had running water and electricity, but the water came from a tank that my dad filled up from the town water supply every week or so, and the toilet was a seat over a five gallon bucket that had to be emptied regularly in outhouse in the back yard.

So to answer the OP, yes, I am old enough and rustic enough to remember outhouses. :slight_smile: