Outhouse: “Everyone Has To Go!”

The outhouse originated in Europe more than 500 years ago in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Finer inns began offering “his” or “hers” outhouses. But, because most people could not read or write, symbols were used on the doors to show which one was “his or hers”. Pictures of the sun and moon were used. In ancient times, the “sun” symbol was masculine and the moon symbol was feminine. As time went by, innkeepers decided the “men’s” outhouse was not needed, because they would just go in the woods. Those men who couldn’t or wouldn’t could just use the women’s outhouse. So “men’s” outhouses just disappeared over time, leaving only the “women’s” outhouse with the crescent moon.

No, they did not make two-hole crappers for those who couldn’t wait. They made them two different sizes for adults and small children.

Yes, they did make brick out houses. Our president, Teddy Roosevelt, had two at his vacation home. They were made in an octagon shape. Most outhouses were 3 to 4 feet square and 7 feet tall. Some were without the crescent moon cut out, some would cut out the crescent moon for ventilation and for light so they could read while doing their business. One of the more commonly used names was the “Johnny House” when referring to the children. From that came the slang saying “I gotta go the the John.” In my research, I never came up with where the “Johnny House” originated. So if there are any other folks interested, search the Internet and let us know on Facebook what you find out. Believe it or not, they also made two-story outhouses.  They offset the upper deck so that the good stuff would fall behind the lower seating. Outhouses were commonly located 50 to 150 feet from the main house, often facing away from the house. So that they didn’t have to smell the “enclosed” odors, they would have the door open while in use. That is probably where the saying “don’t get caught with your pants down” started.

Now, let’s get down to the paperwork. No kids, we have not always had “toilet paper”.   The Sears and Reobuk catalogs, the news paper, or any other suitable paper products were used.  They all had multiple uses “reading” and “wiping”. Even after toilet paper was invented the common people could not afford such a luxury.

Now that you have all been blessed with this knowledge, I would like to give you a little history on our “old time outhouse” we have built for this year’s festival. For starters, it is not for use. It is only for fun and to show some of the history. The materials we acquired came from the original Lefty and Ivey Turbeville residence, located at 3154 Forestbrook Rd. We got these items from Lefty’s old pack-house. The pack-house was a two-story barn with the pack-house above and the livestock underneath. The building was built in the early 1950’s and the house was built in the mid 1940’s. My wife, KC, and I currently live in the home and love hearing the old stories that Lefty and Ivey’s children Lefty “Bo” Turbeville and his sister Karen like to tell. Bo told us the old floors used to have cracks between the boards and if it was raining and they couldn’t go outside they would tie a kernel of corn to a string and lower it through the floor and wait for a chicken to come by and try to pull the corn up before the chicken could get it.

The old pack-house still stands but Hurricane Hazel knocked it down in 1954 and they just reset the 2nd story back on the original foundation, and so it became a single story. So with these fun facts of knowledge let’s continue our heritage of Socastee. Some folks have been here their entire life. Their ancestors probably came from other countries many, many years ago, unless they were Native Americans. These people have many generations of history vested in our community. It is our job to pass this history and heritage on to our children and many generations to come. Don’t try changing our southern heritage, embrace it .                                                                                                                                                       So, come on out have some fun with a bunch of us who remember and are trying to preserve our local heritage,  at  this year’s festival.

See yall there , Uncle D


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