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Old 05/30/11, 08:22 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: A woods in Wisconsin
Posts: 9,278
Indoor plumbing vs outhouse...what age?

We had an outdoor 2 seater until I was 5 ---- about 1950...... then Ma and Pa went modern and installed indoor plumbing ----

So ---- when did your family make the switch?

(I suspect the majority of you never knew the joys of the 'index pages' of the Sears catalog.
The index pages were much softer than most of the other pages!)

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Old 05/30/11, 08:37 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Oregon
Posts: 588

I think I'm technically about third-generation indoor plumbing, but when we bought our farm and moved here 27 years ago today, there was a hole in the floor of the bathroom where the broken toilet had been removed and never replaced, and an outhouse in the back yard. That would have been 1984. Of course we fixed that within the very first day! Don't think we got rid of the outhouses that the fruit pickers used down in our berry fields until about 1995.

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Old 05/30/11, 08:40 PM
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 2,685

My stepfather put in indoor plumbing when he lost his job with a shower house. That was well after I left home. I think maybe 1988. I remember going and helping him with some stuff in the bathroom while my mom was in CA waiting on my niece to be born.

The day I got married in 1983 I washed my hair and took my bath after one last trip to the outhouse. I then went out and refilled the water buckets and tea kettles. I picked up my wedding dress and other necessaries. Put on my boots and waded mud down the quarter mile lane to where the car was parked and left home.

I tell my husband I married him for running water!

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Old 05/30/11, 08:54 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Rural Colorado
Posts: 286

The house we lived in when I was ages 4-12 (1984-1993) was built in 1868. It had a beautiful, functional, 2 hole outdoor up until the day we moved from there. The new people tore it down and filled it in after a year or so.

The house did have indoor plumbing added in 1978, but it was not reliable since it was added onto the mudroom off the back of the house by someone who didn't seem to understand that it might be a good idea to have the pipe move with gravity- uphill not so much. My parents turned an under stairway closet into a more functional bathroom in 1985 or so. They also added an automatic kitchen sink- you know, the kind you don't have to prime.

We regularly used the outside bathroom in the spring, summer, and fall though. One working bathroom and 7 in the house Ours had two windows with blue gingham checkered curtains, real seats, a wash pitcher/bowl, and lovely yellow paint with white trim It was twice the size of the one in the house too!

I should add that the home was continuously lived in too. We were the first people to buy it, not inherit it. The original man built it for his wife when he came home from the Civil War, and their oldest boy inherited the house. His oldest boy inherited, and then had one daughter who inherited as a spinster. She passed at the age of 94 and my parents bought the property at the estate sale, along with some of the original furnishings!

When I was 19 I bought a little house on a lot in Louisburg, MO at auction for $3500. This was in Spring 2000, and the house did not have an indoor bathroom. An elderly couple lived there up until a month or so before the auction. It had a single hole out back.

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Old 05/30/11, 09:05 PM
Join Date: May 2002
Location: south central Kentucky(finally out of all the snow)
Posts: 4,615

We had plumbing when I was growing up, but several extended family didn't. My great aunt and uncle never did get a br in their house although they did have water to the kitchen sink. They passed about 10 years ago.

When my hubby's kid's(from 1st marriage) came in for his funeral, we had the after dinner at the little country church that had both indoor and out facilities. You should have seen the look on his dd's face when she asked where the br was and I pointed to the outdoor privy. I let her be horrified for a few moments before directing her to the modern throne.

I have 2 kids now that have me seriously considering putting in an outhouse and foregoing the indoor. The toilet gets plugged at least once a week.

Never did understand the 2 seater....

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Old 05/30/11, 09:20 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: NC
Posts: 1,760

We always had indoor plumbing in the houses I've lived in, but I remember using the Johnny House at my grandmother's. It was near the strip house (for stripping tobacco--get your head out of the gutter!), and was a convenient place to "go" when we were working in tobacco. I inherited my grandmother's house, and it only has that one bathroom downstairs--tucked in a nook behind the stairs--the most convenient place to add it--probably in the 1960's. When staying there now, I sleep in an upstairs bedroom and use a chamber pot. Can't imagine adding an upstairs bathroom just for THAT!

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Old 05/30/11, 09:30 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: State of Jefferson
Posts: 414

We moved to a one-room cabin in 1976 and used "Mrs. Murphy" and hauled all our water the year we lived there. That was a real education!

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Old 05/30/11, 09:36 PM
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Join Date: May 2008
Location: Michigan
Posts: 10,723

We moved to a house with an indoor toilet when I was about 4 in 1968.

The difference was we lived not in a farmhouse, but in the city. The houses were row houses called 2 up 2 downs, 2 rooms downstairs and 2 rooms upstairs. They were built for mill workers in the 19th century.

So we didn't get an inside loo until we moved OUT of the city

We had water plumbed to a sink in the house, but we went to Gran's house for baths.


I saw something nasty in the woodshed

Last edited by Tiempo; 05/31/11 at 10:12 AM.
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Old 05/30/11, 09:37 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Ohio
Posts: 17,666

My great-grandparents who we visited often had a privy until the mid 70's. At our cabin in Pennsylvania we had a privy and no running water. Sold it in the early 90's, outhouse intact. If we had more land (5 acres or more) I would want an outhouse somewhere for times when the electric is out or I don't want to walk to the house.

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Old 05/30/11, 09:49 PM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Ky
Posts: 1,569

My dad always was modern minded, we were the first ones in our whole town to have a flush toilet and the neighbours came to take a look at it, and the bathtub of course. I remember the outhouse well, and the saturday night baths in front of the kitchen stove in a galvanized tub.

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Old 05/30/11, 09:50 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Wisconsin by the UP, eh!
Posts: 2,837

DHs parents put in a bathroom in 1965 - he was seven, and the youngest of 5. His older brothers would shower at school. When he was 12, they switched from an old wood furnace (octopus style) to a propane furnace, after a near deadly encounter with carbon monoxide.

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Old 05/30/11, 10:23 PM
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Waste of bandwidth
Join Date: May 2003
Location: OK
Posts: 10,168

I pulled down, re-dug and rebuilt the outhouse in Colorado that is used as backup my ours and my "Grandmother's*" cabin about 15 years ago. It's still used when the others are busy or if it's too cold for the water systems to be hooked up.

I have a friend in New Mexico who runs a heritage fruit tree farm. In addition to their fancy indoor composting toilet, they have outhouses for guests.

*Grandmother is gone, now, but that's how we refer to the cabin.



Less barking! More wagging!

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Old 05/30/11, 10:27 PM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Idaho
Posts: 2,957

Mrs Whodunit here,

2004 is the year the outhouse went into retirement where I was born and raised.

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Old 05/30/11, 10:41 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: A woods in Wisconsin
Posts: 9,278
Originally Posted by Terri in WV View Post
Never did understand the 2 seater....
The 2-seater that my folks had------
not meant for 2 people at a time ---
but ------
more for the difference in size.

I was 5 ----- smaller hole.
Folks used the adult size.
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Old 05/30/11, 11:13 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: MS
Posts: 24,557

I can actually remember being potty trained when I was two. I have a very strong memory of the outhouse back behind the house we lived in (have strong memories of that house and the next one too). The houses we lived in from age three on had indoor plumbing, but when my parents bought the farm I grew up on there was an outhouse (the house did have plumbing). We used the outhouse as well as the bathroom. If the bathroom were occupied, or we were outside playing and didn't want to venture into the house for fear our mom would put us to work, we used the outhouse.

I had a great aunt and uncle who did not have indoor plumbing. Uncle Leonard died in 1975 when I was 15 and a few years later the family enclosed half of the back porch and put in a bathroom for Aunt Pearl when her health declined. I remember using their outhouse and also remember the bucket of cool drinking water and the gourd dipper hanging next to it on the back porch.

I'm running so far behind I thought I was first!

Last edited by Ravenlost; 05/30/11 at 11:16 PM.
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Old 05/30/11, 11:30 PM
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 2,685
Originally Posted by Ravenlost View Post
and also remember the bucket of cool drinking water and the gourd dipper hanging next to it on the back porch.
My kids could remember their grandmothers house having the dipper hanging over the sink. It was the same one we always used in the water bucket. People today would die at drinking water out of the same dipper as everyone esle and then putting it back in the bucket!
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Old 05/30/11, 11:45 PM
LisaInN.Idaho's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: far north Idaho
Posts: 11,136

Indoor plumbing till I was 37. The we moved here and used an outhouse for almost 2 years. Back to indoor plumbing when I was 39. Though we still use the outhouse during occasional plumbing emergencies.

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Old 05/31/11, 12:03 AM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: KY
Posts: 11,196
Originally Posted by Terri in WV View Post

I have 2 kids now that have me seriously considering putting in an outhouse and foregoing the indoor. The toilet gets plugged at least once a week.
We're on a septic tank here and because it's a high water table the tank is sitting almost level with the house and there wasn't a good suction for the flush, so we had issues just like you with the toilet getting stopped up. So, home remodeling last year and the bathroom was the first problem to conquer, and specifically the commode. DH went to Lowes and after much studying he bought a golf ball flusher commode. It really does flush golf balls and doesn't ever stop up. You'll wonder why you didn't have it installed sooner.

There are endless combinations of truth.

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Old 05/31/11, 12:14 AM
Join Date: May 2002
Location: south central Kentucky(finally out of all the snow)
Posts: 4,615

Soulsurvivor-I haven't run across a toilet yet that they can't stop up. I've been looking at ones that have bigger drains but there are so many to choose from it can make a persons head spin. That and you have to special order them.

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Old 05/31/11, 12:31 AM
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Zone 9b, Lake Harney, Central FL
Posts: 4,894

How many of us are heading in the othet direction: trying to simplify things or buying land where we'll be off grid?

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Old 05/31/11, 12:32 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Northern Saskatchewan
Posts: 1,476

My neighbors STILL dont have indoor plumbing and use an outhouse. I was over at their house multiple times for coffee and never noticed that they didn't have a kitchen sink. One time due to unforeseen circumstances my kids and I had a sleep over there and thats when they told us that we would have to use the outhouse! I looked around and couldn't believe I never noticed that they didn't have a kitchen sink or a bathroom!

Me personally? I was born in 1981 and grew up in a house that was built in 1980 and was pretty darn nice when it was brand new. So we had two bathrooms.

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Old 05/31/11, 12:38 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: SW Michigan
Posts: 16,053

When I was born, we had an outhouse. Buy the time I was ready to be potty trained, we had indoor facilities - so I never really remember the outdoor ones. So about 1960.

The future is as bright as your faith.
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Old 05/31/11, 07:06 AM
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 15,091

We lived on the family homestead with no indoor plumbing until I was about 5 or 6 years-old when we loved to the city.

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Old 05/31/11, 08:23 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 186

We had an outhouse until I was about 5 years old about 1959. A 3 seater, 2 big ones and a small short one for me. It had a wooden box where the sears catalog, etc. were kept.

I was always told to look before setting. Well, of course I had to go soooo bad one morning I sat before looking, felt something cool across my backside, turned to look, huge black snake stretched across my seat. I forgot what I was in there for and left pj bottoms on the floor. Always looked before setting after that.

On another morning trip to the outhouse I ran ahead of mother. I was wearing pink pj's with the feet that had snaps around the waist and up the back. I was almost half way there when a big tom turkey came after me, knocked me face down (thankfully), and proceeded to peck my back and put holes in my pj's. Mother grabbed a board on the run, hit that turkey for a home run. Picked me up, checked me out, rung the turkey's neck. Best turkey I had ever eaten for dinner that night.

Oh the adventures of going to the outhouse!

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Old 05/31/11, 08:46 AM
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 8,918

We did not have indoor plumbing at the ranch in MT where I grew up until after I was married and in my early 20s.

The ranch house burned down the day after I graduated from high school and my parents moved back to the original cabin. Several years after that, Dad added plumbing to the cabin and when they got the new house built, had all the modern conveniences there.

The last two years I lived in MT before I relocated to KY I had moved to a ranch on the Crow Indian reservation and while I did have electricity, did not have running water or indoor plumbing there either ... this would have been 12 years ago.

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Old 05/31/11, 09:37 AM
Murphy was an optimist ;)
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Kentucky
Posts: 18,395

I grew up with outhouses and used them regularly until I went to the city at age 18. We always had running water, and indoor facilities, but those were special, and were off limits to kids. Mostly I think mama aimed to keep the bathroom clean... and three little boys didnt.


"Nothing so needs reforming as other peoples habits." Mark Twain

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Old 05/31/11, 11:49 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Southern California
Posts: 1,009

My grandma finally got electricity and her own non-party phone line and INDOOR PLUMBING when she was 74, in 1972 I think. She and grandpa DID have such luxuries when they lived in the house in town when my dad was in JHS and HS, but the ranch wasn't modernised until way late.

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Old 05/31/11, 04:55 PM
1/2 bubble off plumb
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: NE OH
Posts: 8,252

City kid here (born in 70). Both Dad (born 42) and I never lived without inside plumbing. My mom did for one year in high school when my grandfather was out of work (they went back to family land and built a 2 car garage to live in...all one room). I know my grandma on one side of the family went through periods without it once they lost the mansion to the depression...not sure about grandpa. The other side I'm sure grew up without - farm families. Sure have used a few old outhouses over the years (not counting those "blue boxes") and would be willing to go to a composting toilet or outhouse if we ever got some land. Sure would like to keep the "automatic sink" though.

If my typo's bother you, come on over and take a chair. We can discuss it over some "ham and swill calzones"
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Old 05/31/11, 07:00 PM
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 456

Originally Posted by Jan Doling View Post
How many of us are heading in the othet direction: trying to simplify things or buying land where we'll be off grid?
No indoor plumbing to speak of at this time, a water line run to a washer in the barn and an outdoor kitchen with a metal countertop 8' long for doing dishes....going to grill a tenderloin and some steaks tonight in the firepit......
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Old 05/31/11, 08:44 PM
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Northeastern Oklahoma
Posts: 4,473

We always had indoor plumbing at home, but at my grandma's, where I spent summers and Christmas vacation, she didn't get running water or indoor plumbing until the year I was 10, 1965. She had an old pump handle, an outhouse, a chamber pot at night, and we took baths in a wash tub in front of the stove after heating the water on it. We also had a water bucket with one dipper everyone used. Those were good memories, although I was always afraid of getting snake bit in the outhouse, lol.

When I was married to my first husband, we lived for about a year in a place that was just a one room shack, no closets, cabinets, plumbing, etc. It had an outhouse, but you had to weave your way between the copperheads to get to and from it...totally freaked me out. I used a chamber pot at night. We hauled water in 5-gallon cans from a gas station about three miles away. We had an old stove that was hooked up directly to a 100-pound propane tank...sitting right beside the stove! His family always lived like that, and I didn't know any better, but that was one of the most miserable years of my life all around and the final straw leading to my divorce. We could have afforded a much nicer place, but he spent all his money on beer, race cars and girlfriends!



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