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Wednesday, February 15, 2017


AN "ELEANOR"  OWNED BY THE McCLENNONS, OF ATCHISON CO., KANSAS (copied from Capper's Farmer web site)

Wednesday, 8:30 AM.  15 degrees F at the ferry dock, 13 on the back porch.  Wind variable with occasional light gusts.  The sky is mostly cloudy, the humidity 77%.  The barometer is starting to fall, now at 30.06". The forecast for the next ten days calls for temperatures in the 30's, mixed skies, and rain by Monday.
   I just read in an article on public sanitation in The Wall Street Journal that hundreds of millions of people in India are without any kind of sanitation, and that the Indian Government has a program to provide them with modern toilets.   Evidently the porcelain toilets come mostly without attachment to sewer systems.  It is easy to understand the frustration and mystification of the recipients.  Sounds like a government program, alright.
   Add to them more millions of folks without basic sanitation in Africa, China, South America and elsewhere and we easily have half a billion and more humans on the planet without even an outhouse, and who just walk off to the nearest field or public space when nature calls.
  Sounds a bit humorous, until one thinks of a typhoid epidemic. Or polio.  Or dysentery.
   Anyway, it made me think back only sixty or seventy years, when outhouses were still common on farms and even in cities (look around, you'll still find some out there).  I remember them well, as country relatives still used them back then (as of course did I).  Nobody thought anything much about their presence, and some were rather imposing, or at least quit elaborate structures, what we referred to as "Two holers" with two toilet seats, or even three or four. A country schoolyard would typically have such an outhouse, one each for boys and girls.
A truly advanced model of later years might even have an electric heater.

   Properly vented,  constructed and maintained they were perfectly sanitary.  The Sears Catalog provided both reading material and toilet tissue, and a box of lime with a scoop served as the flush.  When necessary a new hole was dug, the old one filled in, the outhouse moved and the cycle started over.
   I remember well the "Eleanor" that stood on an uncle's farm, an outhouse delivered one summer day by depression era WPA workers and set up on a 4'X4' concrete slab.  8' high in front and 7' high in back with a metal roof, it had all the necessary bells and whistles for comfort, convenience and sanitation. Even a coat hook on the door.
   That Eleanor was seldom used, as the modern farm house already had indoor plumbing by 1945 or so.  The Roosevelt Administration began the outhouse campaign (the structures popularly named after the First Lady) in the mid to late 1930's in response to a devastating typhoid epidemic.
   All of this seems rather quaint today, but I sincerely believe we would be better off encouraging the governments of the world, most of which do not like us very much and with whom we don't get along,  to supply outhouses for those hundreds of millions of squatters, than continuing to blow the hell out everything we don't approve of.

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