Thousands of images, texts, and audio/video from ECU's diverse collections and beyond.

Forward Pasquotank!

Date: 1934 | Identifier: TH4975 .S28 1934
Forward Pasquotank! : memorializing a (back) housing program of unique cultural, social and economic importance / by W.O. Saunders and W.K. Saunders. Elizabeth City, N.C. : The Independent, c1934. [30] p. : ill. ; 23 cm. Contains poetry: The back house to the front. Originally published as a full page feature in The Elizabeth City, (N. C.) Independent. more...

Memorializing a (Back) Housing
Program Of Unique Cultural,
Social And Economic Importance.

Forward Pasquotank!

Memorializing a (Back) Housing
Program of Unique Cultural,
Social and Economic Importance.

Originally published as a full page feature in
The Elizabeth City, (N. C.) Independent, of
which more than 150,000 copies were sold.
Published and For Sale by
The Independent
Elizabeth City, N. C.

Copyright 1934


All Rights Reserved


The construction of 400 brand new sanitary privies in Pasquotank County is, we contend, an event of unique social and economic importance, of which any county should be tremendously proud.

Thanks to the U. S. Public Health Service and the North Carolina State Board of Health, a total of 25 miles of new backhouses have been built in rural North Carolina with C. W. A. funds and C. W. A. labor. Just so many old-fashioned, insanitary back-houses have been replaced by modern spic and span pit privies of the most approved type.

To this program of rural progress North Carolina home owners contributed 15½ million board feet of lumber and 39 car loads of cement, say nothing of metal roofing and hardware.

To such progress in sanitation and aesthetics in North Carolina this little volume is seriously dedicated.


W. O. Saunders

W. K. Saunders


Drawing of outhouse]

Here we have one of the old-fashioned privies, with its box of corn cobs in the corner and flies all around, which health authorities have declared obsolete and insanitary.


The old odor changeth
Yielding place to the new


And here we have one of the new sanitary CWA-built privies which carry many modern improvements, including free-holing and no-draft ventilation.



  • To all you carping critics who have Roosevelt on the pan,
  • I want to call attention to his latest Privy Plan.
  • If he never did another thing but form C. W. A.
  • His name should live in history as the greatest of his day,
  • For down in North Carolina he has pulled a wondrous stunt
  • That is bound to bring that sacred shrine,
  • And all who cherish memories of happy childhood days
  • Will cheer our blessed President for preserving bygone plays
  • And for benefit of all our youth who do not understand
  • I'll explain the part the Back House played to the lowly and the grand.
  • Long years ago ere sanitation came to be a stunt;
  • Before the chiseling plumber charged a dollar for each grunt;
  • Before the “prevention of cruelty bunch” proved that it was unkind
  • To do the things folks long had done unto their own behinds;
  • Before they baptised nature's call by pulling on a chain,
  • We had a good old system that in memory shall remain.
  • ’Twas just a simple little throne as plain as plain could be,
  • But, my, what recollections it recalls to you and me.
  • It graced the back end of the yard half camouflaged with vines
  • And built of boards and poles and tin of many different kinds.
  • Sometimes the leaves of almanacs or books or magazines
  • Would decorate the little walls with interesting scenes.
  • The throne seat built for comfort, just two feet high or more,
  • So when you sat up on the hole your two feet touched the floor;
  • The knotholes in the walls and door, were lookouts where you viewed
  • The horizon for trespassers who disturbed your solitude.
  • And embryonic poets found real inspiring use
  • For every board within that shrine to register their muse,
  • And the laughter of the children will re-echo evermore
  • From those games they played of hide and seek behind the back house door.

  • A leveler of conventions, Ah! How well it served them all,
  • The rich, the poor, the sinner, saint, the big ones and the small:
  • They might desert their churches, clubs or palaces divine
  • But each paid daily pilgrimage unto that humble shrine.
  • But as those golden years slid by and snobs began to rule,
  • They brought false standards in our life, our church, our home and school;
  • And orators with silver tongues were paid by men of wealth
  • To crucify the old back house as a menace to our health.
  • They formed a “Privy Council” and had each state decree
  • It was against the law to use that shrine of memory.
  • They built new closets in the house upon real swanky plans
  • And called them highfalutin names like “toilets,” “rests” and “cans”
  • With chains that flushed the water through and tissue by the roll
  • To take the place of corncobs that we just threw down the hole.
  • But we who live back in the past, who long for yesterday,
  • Can now perk up with dignity and bless “C. W. A.”
  • For down in North Carolina where nature reigns supreme
  • They're licking this depression with a “Back to Nature” scheme;
  • They're building miles of privies on the good old squatter's plan
  • With good old fashioned holes and things meant for the real HE man;
  • And North Carolina's bound to be the nation's paradise,
  • For folks who want real comfort will flock there just like flies.
  • And as they sit and meditate, between each groan and grunt,
  • They'll thank Roosevelt for bringing

CWA Builds Twenty-Five Miles
Of Sanitary Privies of Which
Pasquotank Gets Half A Mile

Great Contribution Made to Public Health of North Carolina by Construction of 21,493 New Backhouses to Replace Insanitary Structures in Rural Sections Thruout the Old North State


Assistant State Director Community Sanitation Service U. S. Public Health Service

(From the Raleigh News & Observer, issue of Feb. 5, 1934.)

“Thou shalt have a place also within the camp whither thou shalt go forth abroad

“And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee.”—Deuteronomy 23: 12-13

With the prodigality that is usually associated with less worthy endeavors, the handiwork of a Chick Sales has been scattered far and wide over Tarheelia within the past two months. Unpretentious little buildings, made famous in the poetry and prose of a nation, have sprung up mushroom-like in every nook and cranny of the State. Along every highway and by-way—in the strictly rural neighborhood—in the fringes of the urban community—the trim little structures gleam in the stark nakedness of new lumber, or shine with the freshness of wet paint. The contrast of their newness against the drab tone of the winter landscape makes them stand out like a gold tooth. They are literally everywhere, and once notice is taken of them, their numbers at first amazes, and then with their continual flight by the car window becomes the butt of jokes, and perhaps, the subject of gay repartee.

The privies are the contribution of the Civil Works Administration to the cause of public health in North Carolina. They have been built as local unemployment relief projects. Each of the one hundred counties in the State has to date submitted to the State Civil Works Administrator a county-wide privy construction project, and the work is actively underway at present in all but one of them. In the case of the exception the original project application got lost.

The projects submitted from the various counties provided for the employment of a total of 12,000 men and the construction of 185,987 privies. Projects ranged all the way in size from those providing for the employment of 352 men and the construction of 5,200 privies in Mecklenburg county to 26 men and 400 privies in Pasquotank and other small counties in both the eastern and western sections of the State.


Due to the necessity of training men, i. e., making “Specialists” of them, the maximum number employed in privy construction to date has been only 3,623 men, or about 28 per cent of the number provided by the projects. This number has not been at work for the entire period of privy building activities, but represents a peak in the number employed that was reached during the week ending January 20; prior to that period the number of workers steadily increased each week, and since that time the weekly State-wide employment roll has fluctuated up and down without once returning to the established high made in January. At present, however, it is rising again toward that figure. In spite of the few men employed to date, and the fact that they were poorly trained for the task at hand, many of them being laborers or clerical type of workers without previous experience with carpenter's tools, there has been constructed no less than 21,493 privies in the two months of CWA activities—truly a remarkable accomplishment.

The inauguration and execution of the work has been, and is at present the responsibility of the State Board of Health, and the dispatch with which so tremendous a task was started and the high plane upon which it has since been conducted is an ever-lasting credit to the efficiency of this State department. To date 99 separate and distinct county organizations are at work, and in many counties the local organization is divided still further into community groups. In spite of the numerous organizations and the varied personnel, the “buildings” are as identical as two peas in a pod. Whether you find them nestled among the sand dunes of the coastal section or perched upon the craggy eminence of the mountains; whether constructed by the fisherfolk of the east, or by the hardy mountainers of the west—the design is the same. They are the 1934 model privy, and are as standardized as is the production of an automobile factory; and they should be of one design for many reasons, none of which is more potent, perhaps, than that a person may feel at home no matter in what part of the State he may find him or her self—that is indeed a comfort.


Each privy that has been erected is a citadel against the spread of disease and death, and as such protects not only the personnel of the household it serves, but safeguards the health of the neighbor's household as well. Thus, a series of privies in a community set up an interlocking bulwark against the most insidious and persistent foe of mankind—disease. How well such safeguards have served to lessen the misery of human kind is reflected in the following statistics, 1914 being the first year of available vital statistics:

Typhoid fever death rate35.85.1
Diarrhoea and enteritis (infant) death rate81.217.2

Many factors have contributed to the phenomenal decline in the death rate of the above diseases. Probably, however, no one safeguard has had greater influence in bringing about a decrease in the incidence of these diseases than have the sanitary pit privies. Their construction was inaugurated about 1911, and since then each year has recorded an ever-increasing number, and an ever-wider distribution of them. It is significant that the increase in the number of privies has been attended by a decrease in these diseases.


The present day privy is far from being the conventional “back house” of a generation ago. The privy of another generation, was no more than a crude shelter in which

“All day, fat spiders spun their webs to catch the buzzing flies

That flitted to and from the house, where Ma was baking pies.” and where

“Berry bushes reddened in the steaming soil behind.”

They were the store houses of disease and death, and should be associated with the pest houses and epidemics of the past. Full many a babe in a mother's arm has succumbed to “summer complaint” from drinking milk from a bottle, on the mouth of which a sewage laden fly had wiped its feet. And many a youth in the first blush of maturity and adult in the full strength of man or womanhood have been stricken down by typhoid fever, the germs of which were brought to them by flies from the “back-house.”

The 1934 model privy consists of a pit some five feet deep over which is set a building with a fly-tight seat box. Insects and animals cannot gain access to the excrement in the pit. The building is easy to keep clean and is odorless, since the pit is ventilated through the sides by offset openings in the weatherboarding and lining of the seat box, the latter opening being screened.

Although 21,493 privies have been constructed by CWA workers in the two months that the work has been under way, not near enough of these structures have been built. North Carolina is largely a rural State, and conservative estimates place at 325,000 the number of homes that must rely upon the privy, to a private system for the safe disposal of human waste.

If all the privies built by CWA workers during the past two months were lined up side by side, they would stretch in one unbroken line for a distance of 25 miles. In spite of the fact that 21,493 privies have been constructed recently, many more of them are needed if we hope to banish from the State, the filth diseases, chief of which are typhoid fever and dysentery.



The publishers of THE INDEPENDENT acknowledge their indebtedness to the following advertisers whose cooperation has made possible the publication of this memorial.



Drawing of man reading book and using Privy]

We Point With Pride

The Pasquotank Chamber of Commerce shares Pasquotank County's pride in connection with the 400 new CWA-built privies.

After all, the backhouse is something of an educational institution—a seat of culture, so to speak. Many great ideas have been born in them, and thousands of persons have learned to read in them.

Pasquotank Chamber of Commerce

(With Emphasis on Chamber)


Drawing of man running with bottle of oil]

Enjoy The Luxury of Your

Modern Johnny

You couldn't enjoy your old fashioned Johnny with its flies, drafts and odors. You will want to visit your new State Board of Health model often.

To get the most frequent use possible out of your new Rest Room, get the mineral oil habit. And don't let its tastelessness and odorlessness fool you. It's the greatest liquidating agent we know.

O. B. Quick

“The Mineral Oil With a Scram”


Drawing of man in Johnny with incense burner]

Odorless Backhouses

There is a carpenter at Nags Head who claims he builds odorless toilets. He builds ’em that way all right, but they don't stay that way. There is no such thing as an odorless backhouse.

But you can assist nature and the olfactory sense by the use of deodorants.

We recommend Backus incense burners for every modern privy.

Grunt & Strain Drug Co.


Drawing of Privy]

It's Nice to Own a

New Privy

But it's no good to you on a dark night if you can't find it.

Don't fumble and stumble around in the dark while hastening to heed Nature's call. Buy a good flashlight and eliminate this bother.

How annoying it is to miss the hole because you can't see it.

How much more disconcerting it is if the person who preceded you missed it.

It's easy to locate what you are looking for if you have a flashlight.

Eureka Electric Co.


Drawing of box of stamps in Privy]

Rubber Stamp Your Backhouse Poetry

Don't deface the walls of your brand new pine board Johnny with pencil scrawls. If you have any regard for neatness, elegance and propriety, have your favorite drawing, poem or your initials made into a rubber stamp.

We can supply many old time favorite backhouse verses in stock numbers, filling orders same day received. Send a plugged dime for proofs.

Our Stock No. 1—OHOur Stock No. 2—UGH
Don't you remember the backhouse, Ben Bolt,Of all the poets under the sun
The most onery of all
The backhouse so cozy and so neat,Is the lousy-minded son-of-a-gun
Where the boys used to crap on the floor Ben Bolt,Who scrawls his verse on a backhouse wall.
And carve their initials on the seat.

Krapper Stamp Works,



the Laxative That
Contains Cellophane



Amazing New Discovery

Throw away your corn cobs, your catalogs and your toilet tissue.

We have made a discovery that makes these things unnecessary.


“The Laxative that Contains Cellophane”

A Boon to Mankind

The greatest forward step in personal sanitation since the bathtub was invented.


toilet tissue


Don't Use Corn Cobs

Are you one of those who still use corn cobs and Sears-Roebuck catalogs?

Corn cobs, we admit have their advantages and are preferable to the ordinary toilet tissue. But you get the same roughage, plus greater comfort and convenience thru the use of BUTT'S TISSUE, the one and only genuine skid-proof tissue on the market today.

Newspapers and catalogs are not printed with medicated inks. Beware of them too.

Be sensible—use

Butt's Tissue

“The Non-Skid Kind”





To Pasquotank County

The building of 400 new sanitary privies in this county is an event of rare importance—a progressive step of the first magnitude.

We are indeed proud to have furnished the lumber for a project that is so momentous and so epochal.

Three-Holer Lumber Co.


Drawing of Privy with installed radio]

Be Modern

Don't be content with Sears-Roebuck catalogs and Lydia E. Pinkham almanacs for your privy diversion.

Let us install a radio in your Johnny. It will encourage regularity of habit, offset personal static and mitigate the pains of interference.

Rumble Radio Co.



Give Your Sanitary “Necessary”

A Modernistic Note

By Furnishing it with

Rubber Air Cushions

This commodity will not only be a joy and comfort to Granddad but is supplied in sizes to fit any hole from the slender hole of Sister Sue to the tiny hole of Baby Lou.

Ask for this inexpensive luxury at

Firerock Rubber Co.


Drawing of man fixing roof of privy]

A Good Roof

Is An Important Part of a Privy

You can't help it if you find that the seat has been wetted thru human carelessness. But there's no need to let it get wet from rain.

Our roofing is weather-proof, that's why it was selected for use on the new CWA privies.

Anti-Alibi Roofing Co.

All Sorts of Building Materials


Drawing of man fixing wall of privy]

We Are Proud

Backus hardware—hinges, nails, etc.—were selected after rigid tests for the 400 new sanitary privies for Pasquotank.

Both the State Board of Health and CWA are exacting in their specifications for such hardware, with emphasis on its reactions to sodium chloride. It must be rust resistant.

We have the hardware for a bank or a backhouse.

Backus Hardware Co.

Successors to Piddle Bros. Co.

A Code of Fair Competition for
U. S. Privy Industry

(Reprinted by Request)

A code of ethics and code of fair competition for the privy industry of the United States has been submitted to Hon. Hugh S. Johnson, administrator of the NIRA by the Chamber of Commerce, of Seat Pleasant, Ky. It should be if interest to thousands of readers of this newspaper who got a wallop out of that CWA privy page published recently in this newspaper. Here it is:



The following will be considered unfair practices and in direct violation of this code:

No person shall enter a privy without first giving proper signal, either by knocking or by making sufficient noise to attract the attention of the occupant, EXCEPT IN CASE OF EXTREME EMERGENCY.

No magazine, news paper, sand paper, wall paper, fly paper, or catalog will be used in any Privy. This will be deemed an unfair practice and in restraint of trade.

No person shall leave a hole uncovered in any Privy.

The holes in all Privies shall be regulated to fit the size and needs of all members of the family, and any failure to so construct, is a violation of this Code.

Corn cobs will not be permitted within thirty feet of any Privy.

The reading of magazines, books, or other publications, while occupying a Privy will be deemed an unfair practice.

Monopoly of any Privy at any time will be deemed an unfair practice. Business must be transacted promptly.

Five types of Privies have been approved by the signers of this code, viz:

Kentucky Sanitary Privy,

Kentucky Concrete Pit Privy,

Kentucky Earth Pit Privy,

Kentucky Septic Tank,

Kentucky Concrete Riser Privy.

All Privies must be located at least seventy-five feet from the main dwelling. The use of bells or telephones for signalling purposes will be permitted, but these modern devices must be installed by skilled electricians, in keeping with the Re-Employment Program.


The labor employed in disinfecting and cleaning Privies shall be classed as “skilled” and any other classification is an unfair practice.

Labor employed in Privy construction shall be classed as both “outside” and “inside” labor, both to be known as “skilled labor.”

Outside labor shall be paid at the rate of $1.00 per hour and employed not longer than five hours in any twenty-four hour period. In case of a break-down, of course, punitive rates for overtime shall prevail.

All disinfectants used by laborers in the Privy industry will be furnished by the operator.

No employe in the Privy Industry shall be required to work more than thirty hours in any one week.

Privies are a national necessity and must be kept open at all times.


The proponents of this Code agree that the President or his duly authorized representative may change any of the provisions of this Code, except those pertaining to the hours that Privies shall be kept open. No law—no order, not even the U. S. Army, can induce the owners of Privies to close them; they must operate twenty-four hours a day. In other words, Privies must come under the provisions of the “OPEN SHOP.”

Attached to the original is Exhibit “A.” which shows what is known as the “obsolete” type of Privy. Buildings of this type will not be permitted under the provisions of this Code.


By ARCHIBALDAS HOLDEN, Executive Secretary.


Attest: ELMER BACKHOUSE, Treasurer


A ‘Johnny’ That Blew Up

(Reprinted by Request)

“Funny how the whole country seems to have gotten a kick out of that CWA Privy page that appeared in The Independent a few weeks ago,” said the Bank Clerk. “And they tell me at The Independent offices that big New York bankers, stockbrokers, Wall Street lawyers, U. S. Senators and executives of big corporations have ordered copies of the paper by the hundreds. You wouldn't think that big men surrounded by every modern convenience and luxury would be interested in a satire on a commonplace thing like backhouses!”

“You forget from what humble beginnings most of the big men in this country came,” replied the Soda Jerker. “I'll bet my shirt that old man John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford, Will Rogers, Irv. Cobb and most of the older celebrities you can name, have passed many an hour in an old fashioned backhouse. And you can bet your plus fours that President Roosevelt himself is familiar with them. If he didn't use them in his youth, he certainly formed acquaintance with them when he found Warm Springs, Ga.”

“Our lives are compassed about by memories,” continued the Soda Jerker; “and some of the most intimate memories of our childhood are associated with the primitive three-holer back on the farm. We don't discuss these peculiar memories until some wag breaks out with a wise crack that opens up the subject, and then we suddenly break into fits of laughter because we've just been waiting for years for some one to drag the subject out into the open. The Saunders tribe did just that thing in the biggest possible way when they publicized the construction of 25 miles of backhouses by the CWA in North Carolina, and had a lot of fun with the project. The country was ready for a big belly laugh, and what's funnier than thoughts of an old fashioned backhouse?”

“It isn't funny when one of the blamed things blows up with you,” said the Bank Clerk.

“I never heard of one blowing up!” exclaimed the Soda Jerker. “Tell me, did you ever hear of one blowing up?”

“Yes,” said the Bank Clerk; “I have heard the story somewhere. It seems that a certain cautious housewife bought a gallon of naptha to use in her spring house cleaning and found about half the naptha on hand when she finished her work. Afraid to leave the stuff in the house and risk a fire or explosion, she took it out back and poured it down a hole in the privy. Her old man had occasion to go out back a few minutes later. He settled on one of the holes, filled his pipe, lit it and prepared to enjoy himself. He lifted the lid from the next hole and dropped the match he had lit his pipe with, down the hole. Instantly there was a terrific explosion, the sides of the Johnny were blown out and the old man was blown bodily into a manure pile fifty feet away. The neighbours dug the old man out of the manure heap and examined him for broken bones or other injuries. Except for being stunned and dazed, the old man seemed to be quite all right. And then some one asked him how it all happened.

“ ‘I dunno,’ said the old man; ‘it musta been somethin’ I et’.”

The Buck and Railer
Predecessor of the Hole Privy was Built for Business


I've just run into a bunch of people who don't know what an old fashioned Buck and Railer is, so I guess it's up to me to revive the old timers just like they are reviving the old time songs and melodies.

Old Chick Sale started this argument when he brought the old Privy back to mind but he didn't go back so far. He just went to the “holer” days, but the “Buck and Railer” is even older than his day. In fact, they are just a step out of the old woods days.

These buck and railers were the same kind of places that Lem built, only they didn't have no easy seats all carved round and invitin’ laziness. They had shed roofs and was built plenty solid on a couple of timbers. They was built so they could be hauled all over the farm, and during the harvest seasons, they just sat out on the field where they was good and handy.

The front was boarded just so high and a rail to sit on was figured good enough to spend this little time on. They was just knee high for the grown ups and as I said, boarded up in front to keep your feet and legs from leaning back too far and gettin’ in the way.

When you went into this old Buck and Railer, you didn't bother much about readin’ the catalogues and lookin’ over the harness sections, you tended to business. If you happened to get a little careless you might find that the “old familiar smell” of Riley's day was upon you. Course if you just happened to slip a little, there was the old Buck to back you up. This buck was just another rail, set in up above you that just caught you at the neck. Believe me it was a necessity to have this old buck in snowy and icy weather. You never knew just how big a hurry you was going to be in and the general system was to sit down easy like but if you was in a hurry, like I said, your feet might slip and there was the old buck to steady you. That old buck was a life saver cause who wants to lean back too far and get over balanced in a case like this?

Then there was the younger generation to look after. The old buck and railer just wasn't safe where these youngons was concerned. We usta just leave the old “Thunder mugs” lined up against the wall for them. There was the old big one that was a wedding present to the old folks. Gee, it was a beauty. Nice cream colored crockery with big blue flowers stickin’ out on her just like warts on a toad. She had a mighty lid that fit like the “paper on the wall” and in real bad weather, she could go for a couple of days without bein’ dumped.

Then the medium sized one for the big girls. She was purty and white. The girls wanted to show off when she was under their bed, so they crocheted a slip to go over it and a top piece that slid down over the knob. There was trouble to this finery tho. She had to be undressed every day before she went out to the buck and railer.

The boys had one too, but them being just boys, it didn't make much difference, they had the old “slop bucket.” It wasn't much for class but did the work just as well as if she had the riggin’ on like the girl's. The big trouble with this was that she didn't look good sittin’

out of their window on the “lean to” which was where she was put when the smell got too bad and no one had chloride o’ limed her for a spell. When any thing got to stinkin’ around the house, mother just made a bee line for the boys room and began looking for that old slop bucket. Gee, she was horrified whenever she found it sittin’ out there where everybody could gaze on it.

It was the regular thing to do just at the peep of day to see that the thunder mugs were all taken out. Manys the time I saw Mother hie herself out the back door at the peep of dawn with the old thunder mug hidden under the old mother-hubbard dress. Gosh it would be a crime to get caught with one. Then after mother had deposited hers, out went the girls with theirs hidden between them. Us kids sure got the dickens if we made any fool cracks when the girls took theirs out. One time Tim tried to embarrass one of them when she slipped and spilled the works on her. Mother was a handy individual with the old razor strop and Dad had his old “cat-and-nine-tails” which is another instrument of torture to the old fashioned boy. It is rigged up with a stick and nine or ten tails of hard leather, well soaked in tallow. This is one of the most effective methods known to the old fashioned families of explaining that you should never laugh at the girls when they spill the pot. Up to the present time, Tim has never laughed at another one.

It didn't make any difference about the boys’ pot, it was up to us kids to drag it out, if we thought of it. If we didn't think, we'd probably either get a lickin’ or when we did think, it would be hidden out on the old “lean to.” Punishment for this means no trip to town when the folks go.

Now it's about nine o'clock, all the pots are out and ready to do duty in the old “buck and railer.” One time Pa caught a hired man using a thunder mug. He knew right from the start that this bird used it for a restin’ period and he give him the boot. By boot, I mean kicked him off the place and paid him off.

Now I'm telling you where Lem's old Privy had it on this old type. When us kids got the notion that we were grown up and tried the manly way of sitting on the old buck and railer and an accident happened that caused all the family a nervous breakdown and any amount of embarrassment, then it goes to old Lem for having a real system of building out houses. John had one of these accidents, one time and can you imagine the way mother stepped on us kids with the warning from then on and it was many days before any of us attempted to sit the old rail. She got out the old tub and stripped John to the skin, out behind the barn and turned bucket after bucket of water on him. He was about froze and if any one ever suggested sittin’ on the old rail to John, he had a fight that only dad with the old cat and nine tails could straighten out. Ma was so embarrassed that she didn't show up for a week. for that matter, neither did John.

And as I was telling you, even the old folks had to be a bit careful when it was icy and snowy. A slip when the weather was below freezing was fatal. One time a new man on the place that had evidently come out of the woods, got in a hurry and his feet slipped out from under him and his neck didn't catch the buck, and into the hole he went. He got out by himself some how and stood around behind the barn till he nearly froze waiting for some one to come out. He stood there for about an hour and when I went out to feed the pigs, there he

was half naked and stinking like the pigs themselves. I told Dad and he went out with a tub full of cold water. I bet that feller was always careful of how he abused the old buck and railer after that.

Old Lem of Chick Sale's fame was a real hero and done the country a lot of good but then again, he done them lots of harm. If a man was working for you in harvest, you could always check up on them with the old railers. If a man went to her and spent two minutes, he was considered healthy. If he stuck three minutes, you put him down for a “once-a-dayer” but if a man went in and stayed five minutes, he needed his health looked after and was told that he should go to the barn at night and eat a bit of flax. If he done this and didn't get regular, he was down right lazy and got the bounce right off. In the interest of health, Lem done the country an injury and without a doubt, he has made these new fangled privies grow to be too darn comfortable and has sowed the seed of laziness. Why, in these days of nice round cozy seaters, a man can spend half a day in solid comfort, looking over the newspapers and no one can advise him about his condition. He don't even get the old catalogue priviledge in these fancy days, they furnish green, blue, orchid, pink and tortoise colored fancy tissue paper to match the color of the privy. We used to consider it a real treat to get one of Ma's old patterns.

Some of these days, I'm going to be free like a kid again and I'm going out to some far away place where they have got a real old Buck and Railer and spend a lot of happy hours, unless I happen to slip, which probably will take all the old reminiscences out of me and I'll hasten back to sit on a new fangled toilet seat again.

Un-cataloged item icon

The details for this item have not yet been reviewed by cataloging.

To request review of this item, click here.