Thursday, 5 February 2015

Step outside with me!

Before we go upstairs would you like to come outside again with me?   Actually, I’d never have asked that back in the days when grandma lived on the farm but today let’s go out of the side door of the house, across the courtyard, turn left straight after the arch and along the garden path.  I am inviting you to go to the privy.

The two-seater earth privy
Whenever a few of grandma’s descendants meet the conversation will eventually turn to that privy, or, more accurately, those privies.  You see, it was quite a friendly set up, rather like the one in the photo which is not actually of the privy I knew so well.  It was a two seater, intended for two very good friends I feel. Actually only one side was “charged” (ie in use) at a time.  It was in a small brick-built shed facing down the garden but shielded by an evergreen hedge.  I can never remember closing the door when I was in the privy but I certainly learned to sing loudly!

Each week the “dilly cart” would call at the farm to empty all the privies.  (There were four dwellings in the farmyard and a further four on the farm.)  I have not found this usage of the term outside Lincolnshire but a “dilly cart” was the local description of a night soil lorry.  We always made sure we were well out of the way for a while after it had been as the pong could be a bit powerful. 


Some comments suggest that I am giving the impression that my grandparents were quite grand.  They were not and although I loved going to visit or stay with them I would not want their house or their lifestyle for all the tea in China!





6 comments:

  1. Now that is one aspect of childhood that I would rather not remember.

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    1. Ah, but it's an aspect without which no memoir of that house would be complete!

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  2. I find your depictions of your grandparents -- their home and life -- to be fascinating. For me it is just an up close and personal look at a life much different than my own. When I think about visiting my grandmother I mentally go back to a house around the corner from our own -- a tract house in a post World War 2 neighborhood in San Antonio, Texas. I could see her house from my back yard. I loved my grandparents dearly but their life was pretty ordinary -- your stories, of the same time period, seem so much more interesting!

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    1. But it's the reflections on the ordinary which will interest your grandchildren in years to come. You've already mentioned your grandmother's laundry routine, You may have other treasures in the depths of your memory. What about the furniture? the meals? the neighbours? How did you go to her house - were you allowed to walk alone? Did your friends come with you? Were there immigrants and did their home cultures enrich your neighbourhood? Come on - let's hear it for San Antonio!

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    2. Oh dear, Mary --I guess I could write a few posts about my childhood -- while it may all seem mundane to me maybe it wouldn't be for others. I will give it some thought and I will have to locate some photos. I wish my mother had taken more.

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  3. That photo in particular reminds me of many potties I saw in Guatemala (most of which I refused to use... they didn't have doors and I didn't want a bunch of kids watching me go). I drank as little water possible when ever we had to venture out into the mountains in Guatemala.

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