Your home is not complete without a Sanitary Unit

sanitary-unitThink your bathroom is a problem? Let us not forget that until well after WWII, many homes in America did not have indoor bathrooms. My mom and grandmother, in Shenandoah, Pa. — outhouse out back until they moved to an apartment in 1950.  Dad — farm in Aneta, North Dakota — outhouse ’til about the same time. The poster at left, produced between 1936 and 1941 as part of the Work Projects Administration Federal Art Project, appears to indicate that many homes didn’t even have outhouses. Gulp. Image: Library of Congress.

  1. Ed says:

    A house I used to rent is on a farmstead with several other barns and storage buildings, along with a “modernized” outhouse. Plumbing is still just a hole in the ground, but it has electricity for lights and a small electric heater and fan. The main house itself has modern plumbing, the outhouse is just for the convenience of those working or attending social gatherings at the farm.

  2. modcat55 says:

    My grandmother had an outhouse behind her tiny house. There was no water inside the house, but there was a kitchen sink which puzzled me! I thought it was fun to pump water and carry it inside the kitchen. A chamber pot resided under the feather beds. It was an adventure to stay overnight with her. In high school I attended Girl Scout camp where there were outhouses for the campers. We were delegated chores and I was amazed at the duties of “cleaning” the outhouses! I wondered how you were supposed to clean such a thing. I was born in the mid-50’s and I’m still amazed when I spot an outhouse in the rural countryside of the midwest where I live. I’m glad I experienced the use of one. It makes me appreciate what I have come to take for granted. Oh–I have a pink bathroom, too!

  3. kmodek says:

    I have a picture somewhere of me, my sister, and my cousins lined up in front of an outhouse that was at a cemetery where we had our family reunions. (Yes, I guess it sounds odd, but our family was all buried in this place and there’s a pavilion there and for some reason, all the older generations had gathered there for reunions until the past 10 years or so.)
    I just remember being grossed out by the bugs and the creepy dark hole. I still hate bathrooms at campgrounds that are just a hole in a seat….even porta-potty’s are creepy and gross!

  4. RetroSoIl says:

    Our house was built in 1901 and you can see in the cellar that when the city installed sewage and water in 1906 that they just went in and cut holes in the foundation where ever they deemed it appropriate. Oddly enough, they didn’t put in an indoor bathroom at the time and the families (railroad tenent housing) continued to use an outhouse until the 1940’s when they finally put a bathroom in what had been a second bedroom and turned the formal parlor into a master and expanded the kitchen to be larger than 5×10. Thats the postwar renovation we are restoring our house to. I’d love to know where the outhouse was located, that area, and under the kitchen, can be a treasure trove. We’ve already discovered so much in walls and under floor boards that 100 year old trash seems like a jackpot!

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