20 October 2011

Dick Eastman on Maine Outhouses I Have Known

At the Ohio Genealogical Society's Fall Conference on Oct 1, Dick Eastman presented three serious presentations on subjects of interest to genealogists (see my previous posts) and one humorous talk for family historians. Here is a report on that talk:

Maine Outhouses I Have Known
Substituting for Dick Eastman in this presentation was Mr. Harry Eastman, Dick's "uncle," outfitted in overalls, boots, and farmer hat, who, with a Maine accent, shared his knowledge of outhouses based on “building them for a living.”
First, he stated this important rule in using the outhouse, “You only go when you really have to go, particularly in February when it is 40 degrees below.”
As for building an outhouse, the number one rule is to situate it down-hill and down-wind from the house. Another rule: Two-hole outhouses aren't made for simultaneous use, but for use by small people and adults. Also, he pointed out that skilled outhouse builders can guarantee “no splinters.”
While most people have traditional outhouses, he presented photos of two- and three–story outhouses. He showed a cross-sectional diagram of how a three-story privy is designed, with offset seating from floor to floor. He noted that with a three-story privy, it is a long ways from launch to splashdown.
In preparing for this talk, Harry Eastman found that people didn't write about outhouse experiences. He invited people in the audience to write down their experiences and pass them along to later generations.

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