Residents share more memories of old-fashioned lavatories

Part two of a two-part series

Having outhouses tipped over on Halloween and going to the outhouse in the dark (or, even worse, in the winter's cold and dark) are just two memories older residents have of those outhouse days.

Another memory is using catalogs for toilet tissue. That's because "way back when" there just wasn't money for things like toilet tissue. Besides, many people lived too far out in the country to get to the store very often. So, the out-of-date Montgomery Ward and Sears Roebuck Catalogs served as the tissue.

The thinner, softer pages of the catalogs made pretty good tissue and were used up first. The slick pages of the catalogs just didn't work as well. But when the pages were all used up, the families found more catalogs.

Besides tissue, the catalogs made good reading material.

Area residents have memories concerning the physical conditions of outhouses, too.

One local woman remembered when she was a bride of 16 years of age. She and her husband moved to a Moffat County ranch.

"Nobody had lived there for years, and the outhouse was in terrible shape, " she said. "There were cracks between the boards you could see through."

"So I decided I would fix it."

The young woman's mother-in-law was saving coffee cans to be used as shingles for the roof. The coffee cans were made into shingles by cutting off the top and bottom parts of each can, cutting the remaining part down one side, and then flattening it out.

But not enough coffee cans had been saved. So, since there weren't any shingles, the young bride covered the outhouse roof with tar paper.

Then she cleaned up the outhouse and put some linoleum on the floor and seat.

"Oh, it was pretty," the now-grown-up woman remembered.

But then the first snow arrived. When the young woman visited the outhouse her feet went out from under her. The floor was slick.

And the seat?

"Oh, my it was cold," the woman said.

Her husband nailed some lathe on the floor so it would be easier to stand up.

"I wouldn't have gotten away with (putting down the linoleum) if I hadn't been a young bride," the woman laughed.

This same couple later moved to another place. This one had a nice outhouse that was painted inside and out. But it wasn't without problems, either.

The former owner was a big, tall man, so the outhouse had been built with a box in the center. It measured about 24 inches wide by 36 inches long and included a toilet seat and cover. The box was oblong on three sides and came to a point in front. It was wide - too wide to sit on comfortably.

It was even an obstacle to get up on the box. Children had to be lifted up and held on sideways.

The woman said that they used the outhouse that way during the two years they lived at the place.

"It was quite a conversation piece," she said.

And finally, this story revisits the accounts of animals being found in outhouses. As mentioned in last week's story, animals sometimes managed to crawl into outhouses through cracks and the space under the door.

Duane Osborn, of Morapos, remembered an incident when he was a pupil at Hamilton School. One day he went out to the outhouse and saw a bull snake down in the hole. He went back to school and reported his finding to the teacher.

The teacher went to the outhouse to have a look but couldn't see a snake. She accused Duane of lying. It certainly makes a person's skin crawl to think about a snake in an outhouse hole.

These are all memories of days "way back when."

Editor's note: A reader suggested the idea for this two-part series. If you have story ideas, Diane Prather can be reached at 824-8809 or at Box 415, Craig 81626.

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