Outhouse Trivia

Perhaps the most inquired piece of outhouse trivia is the crescent moon cut into the door. The crescent moon has become a common clich for outhouses, yet most don't know why or how it came about. Designs were primarily carved into outhouse doors to provide light and ventilation. Since many people were illiterate, the moon and star designs were used to differentiate between the men's and women's privies - the moon (Luna) was the ancient symbol for women; while a sunburst provided the ancient symbol for men.

The reason why the crescent moon became the sole symbol in outhouse doors was because of the abuse and neglect men delivered on their privies. Being that it was easier for a man to simply step into the shadows of the trees to relieve himself, if an outhouse was available it was automatically the realm of the ladies. Eventually the moon, or women's outhouse, was made available to both men and women.

Many cringe in terror and agony at the thought of why a bucket of corn cob pipes was made available in outhouses. Although they were harsh on the extremities, corn cobs used like toilet paper. This is why many rural families welcomed the delivery of a thick Sears catalogue every season. Pages were crumpled up until they were soft enough and rationed until the new catalogue was published.

Outhouses with two holes were common in rural areas. Dubbed "two-holers", these privies contained two pit holes of different sizes - one for adults and one for children. The main purpose of two-holers was so kids didn't fall down the big hole and provided the option of double occupancy.

It's a myth that Thomas Crapper invented the toilet. Even though Crapper held several patents for plumbing products, he didn't invent the water closet. In fact, it was a man named John Harrington who invented an indoor water closet for Queen Elizabeth I, in 1596. The toilet went into recluse for nearly 200 years until 1775, when a London watchmaker named Alexander Cummings patented the first version of the modern toilet we know today.

Nothing evokes a sense of humor quite like the outhouse. For a giggle we've decided to end our page on outhouse trivia with a selection of common nicknames:

People would also use the following analogies for visiting the outhouse:

  • I'm going downstairs
  • I have to send a fax to the president
  • I'm heading to the woodpile
  • I'm going to freshen up on my French (or insert any language here)
  • I'm visiting Aunt Nelly
  • I have to see a man about a dog.
  • I'm going to read the Sears catalogue
  • I'm making a trip to the post office
  • I'm going into the office
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