Trivia & Folklore

Trivia & Folklore

Miscellaneous Comment:

I really like your page. It is nice to have some real comedy for a change. So much so called comedy is just plain stupid. If they didn’t put canned laughter on these TV sitcoms people wouldn’t watch them because they aren’t funny. Keep up the good work.

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Many outhouses had two (2) holes. Here are two trivia questions for you:
Question One: Why did most outhouses contain two holes to sit on?   (Answer)
Question Two: Why was there a bag with a scoop in it sitting somewhere in the outhouse?   (Answer)

Here’s a good one that came from a user!

I haven’t seen anything in your encyclopedia of outhouses about the chicken switch that always stood just outside the door. Signed: C. Christopher
To find out what a chicken switch is, (don’t do this until you have made your guess) click HERE.

The Specialist by Chic Sales is probably the best known and funniest story about outhouses ever written.
If you’re ready for a few laugh’s, read The Specialist.
What on Earth is an Earth Closet?

Rev. Moule’s invention, The Earth Closet is a very interesting invention indeed. The Outhouses of America Tour would not be complete without reading all about it.


I have received thousands of questions about the quarter moon seen above the door in most outhouses.

The answer lies in the lighting inside because outhouses were around before electricity. The best way to let light in was to put in a window. For privacy reasons, most outhouses were designed with the window above the line of sight. Many early outhouses contained a decorative “moon cutout” covered by glass. This allowed just enough light in to take care of business! It also allowed the real moon to shine through during the night. Bringing a lit lantern into some outhouses could have caused quite a bang so the moon won out! In reality, most people had a covered “Chamber pot” under the bed to go in during the night. Get’s mighty cold at night going outside and the varmints are something else!

Here is another explanation…

Probably the most recognizable symbol associated symbol with the traditional outhouse building is the familiar crescent moon carved into the privy door. Actually, the symbol is an ancient one, and was a sign for womanhood in colonial days and on the frontier. It’s male counterpart, Sol, was either a star or a sunburst design also on the door. Since most male outhouses fell into disrepair rather quickly they seldom survived; while the female ones were better maintained, and were eventually used by both sexes. Although you can find outhouses still standing with the crescent moon, the original meaning for gender identification was lost by the later nineteenth century in most areas of the country.

Outhouses have been called many things throughout the years. I can remember my Grandma saying she was going to visit Aunt Susan (the outhouse) and my Grandpa would say he was going to visit the White House (the outhouse).

What names can you remember the outhouse being called?
“Dump” your answers to the official Outhouse Curator by using the form below…

    What is 4 + 9 ?




    Answer 1: Most outhouses contained two holes of DIFFERENT SIZES! There was a larger hole for the adults with big (you know whats) and there was a small hole for the children. Most children learned very early NOT to sit on the bigger hole unless they wanted to fall in!



    Answer 2: Many outhouses had a bag of Lime with a scoop. Every so often the owner would throw a scoop of lime down the holes to help “digest” the contents below.
    Refer to the FAQ page for more detail on this question



    In the “backwoods” farms where they didn’t have a pit, the chicken switch was used to chase the chickens out from under the seat. The farmers always had a few chickens shut up in a coop and “stall fed” so they would have chickens to eat.

    Added note on chickens: When left to “fend” for themselves they are like vultures. They will eat anything that don’t eat them first.



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