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Attendant Not Included

When Lucille and I married some 50 years ago and moved into a house across the creek, among the acquisitions previous owners had bequeathed us (besides three rooms and a porch) was a spring for drinking and other purposes and a "two-holer" wooden outhouse.

When we built our present home, we tore down the old house and used the lumber to build three rooms, a kitchen, bedroom, and a ten-by-eighteen living room.  Lucille's daddy, Kieffer Johnson, did the construction. I am not real sure I ever paid him (Lucille says we did, but if we did, it was very little.  I really thought in those days that was what father-in-laws were for. Since becoming a father-in-law, I have decided differently.)

The spring, of course, was not movable or we would have moved it; the water was better flavored than what we have now. But we did move the two-holer outhouse... very carefully...and used it for the purpose for which it was designed until (I think) just before our fifth and last daughter was born.  Finally a cousin, Frank Haney, built and furnished us an "in-house."

I wish now we had preserved our two-holer outhouse.  We had not the faintest idea of how valuable it might be - as an antique.

What brought this back to what I call my mind (which is where I try to do my thinking - not in the "in-house") was an item I just now read about regarding an outhouse built by the National Park Service, call the "Taj Mahal."  This two-holer is located at the Raymondskill Falls trailhead in Pennsylvania's Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.  It is a custom-designed and built facility with earthquake-proof walls, imported slate shingles and cedar clapboard siding, and cost about $445,000.  This custom facility has no water and is locked in winter.

Our two-holer may have been earthquake proof as well since no earthquake ever shook it down, and it at least had running water - if only when it rained.  It was never locked, unless occupied.

Of the "Taj Mahal," a spokesman said, "We could have built it cheaper, but we wanted someone coming up the trail or off the road to encounter a nice restroom facility."
The two-holer on the O'Brien place probably could have been built cheaper, too, but we wanted walls on the sides.

I do not vouch for the accuracy of the "Taj's" cost to the taxpayer, by the time they added the paperwork, it might be even more. My suggestion would be to make it coin-operated, and each person who used such a magnificent structure should be most happy to  make a deposit.

Again I wish we had saved ours.  It served the same purpose, and I could install a coin box on it.

Printed in The MESSENGER magazine, March/April 1998