The necessary

I was looking forward, all week, to a bike trip that would take us on a 20 mile out-n-back from Ross Run to Rattlesnake Rock. I watched the weather and was expecting sun. We departed Ross Run right around 1 PM in gloom. It was a cool 39°F. I don’t know when we reached Rattlesnake Rock but we lingered just long enough for a quick snack and water – it warmed to 45° but felt pretty cold when we got back on the bike. We arrived back at Ross Run right around 5 PM and needed the headlights to light our way home. Although we had no sun, the scenery was pleasant. This part of the Pine Creek Valley is sparsely populated and the habitations which we did pass were mostly summer cottages or hunting camps. What struck us was that most of these simple dwellings were evidently without indoor plumbing. We were cold and it was getting dark but we couldn’t help but stop and photograph (not use!) every last one of these we passed on the return trip. The images presented below were selected to represent the range of styles encountered. The middle house on the bottom row is a very modern facility erected as a convenience for those who use the rail tail. We were visiting with friends today and our discussion eventually came round to synonyms for this most important of architectures. We came up with out house … back house … dunny … privy … water closet …. loo … john … head … comfort station … garderobe … and latrine. I was so delighted to learn the last synonym to be contributed to this most illustrious of lists … the necessary. Indeed.


9 thoughts on “The necessary

  1. Oh yeah, the outdoor dunny, that takes me back to some of the houses I lived in as a kid, terrified of going to it in the middle of the night. Love what you focused on, very funny.

  2. I have never had such an adventure as this – chronicling water closets of the wild! Now I think I need to put this on my list of “things to do” as your pictures are beautiful and it is a fascinating study. Thank you for pausing along the way to photograph the loos – great outing! We love a children’s book series, “The Great Brain” by John Dennis Fitzgerald, and there’s a funny story about the first indoor plumbing in the kids’ home. It’s a hoot, and it definitely illustrates the strange reception the first indoor bathrooms received before we thought of outhouses/backhouses as less civilized.

    • Thanks for your words of appreciation. Sometimes photos for posts seem almost forced … you know, ‘Gotta do a post … gotta do a post … well maybe this image will work … it isn’t the best but, gotta do a post.’ Well, when we saw the first of these structures – there was no question that this series would make it onto the blog. Like rolling off a log. Wasn’t sure how it would go over though. Perhaps I’ll go in to edit the post and add ‘back-house’ to the list of synonyms. I don’t suppose I’d have too much trouble with this (comparatively) primitive practice … except at night. The use of chamber pots made lots of sense – especially in winter! Brrrr.

  3. Too funny! I’m pretty sure there are a bunch of holes in the ground to match! 🙂 I notice that someone left the lid up!

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