Goimg, Goimg….

     There are those who have exclaimed at the array of outhouse postcards seen so far, and wonder why our ancestors (to say nothing of some bloggers) insisted on dwelling on such a subject.  The fact of the matter is that human beings refuse to take our bodies for granted.  Every normal function has become the subject of literature, art, and, especially, marketing.  Anyone who has watched any modern television must be aware of the expanding numbers of ads for mattresses.  So sleeping is regularly studied.  (I’ll try this joke one more time: If I go to the Sleep Store and take a nap, am I shoplifting?  Yeah, that’s what I usually get.)

     The lore and literature of eating is huge: if you can find a bookstore, take a look at the Cookbook or Diet sections.  The material produced on drinking is of at least similar magnitude.  Postcards cover sleeping, eating, and drinking with a loving but satiric eye.  And if you wanted to discuss sex…well, that was a couple of blogs ago.

     And today we live in an age where commercials for what we used to have to call “bathroom tissue” can call out to us “We all have to go: why not ENJOY the go?”  So is it so much of a shock to find our ancestors interested in this pressing subject on their postcards?

     We have already discussed, a little, the whole Town vs. Country aspect of the matter.    Well into the 1940s, outhouses were a matter of course in some rural areas, and could be a matter of some pride.

     While the much-vaunted indoor plumbing of the city did have its drawbacks.

     Though perhaps the facility itself had some thoughts on the matter.

     The more removed society was from the old outhouse, the more it became a matter of nostalgia.  (Say, that mail order catalog hung up in a convenient place is another matter for reminiscing, such things being also a matter of the distant pass.  If you are missing the connection—and I know some of you have been born since the second Roosevelt administration—the catalog was hung there to serve as a source of toilet paper—once the family considered it obsolete, of course.  I recently ran into a reference, in an old video game, to a fact of life concerning these catalogs.  Everyone used the black and white pages first: the color pages were slicker and stiffer and harder to use for the purpose intended.  Anybody out there with access to the Sears Roebuck or Montgomery Ward archives know how many letters came in to headquarters about that?    Publishing a simple catalog brings in plenty of complaints, but how did the executives, who were generally old school folks themselves, handle the…where were we?)

     Some people overlooked the discomforts mentioned in the last couple of blogs and recalled the old outhouse as a quiet place to think and read (if nothing else, there was always what was left of the catalog.)

     Others, believe it or else, felt it had romantic associations. 

     (To each their own, I suppose.)

     In fact, the walls and door of the outhouse were considered by many to form a simple refuge from the rest of the world and its many demands.

     Coming soon: Did you think there were no postcards about INDOOR plumbing?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: