This Old Privy

They’re about as rare a find nowadays as a public pay phone, but they do exist. Those with lakeside or mountain camps in Vermont or New Hampshire may not think of their outhouse as a novelty or luxury when the call of nature surfaces. The outdoor bathroom went by many names over the years, including privy, back house, loo, jakes, and of course crapper–most likely named after Thomas Crapper, an Englishman (1836-1910).

There are no records to tell us how many outhouses still exist in town, but Paul and Nancy Saulnier of Church Street are likely owners of one of a few remaining jakes in town. To a former President of the Holliston Historical Society, a collector of antique cars, and the owner of Civilizeds Solutions, a company that designs septic systems, the thought of tearing down this historical treasure never entered Saulnier’s mind.

Saulnier figures his three-holer, containing seating for two adults and one child, dates back to the time his home was built in 1849. What’s unusual about the back house is that no actual holes below the seating exist, only rocks. The comfort loo is plastered and contains a small wooden box for reading materials, large enough for a Sears Roebuck catalog.

Making matters more interesting is Saulnier’s indoor-outhouse, also a three-holer, located in his basement. The newer 2nd edition is updated with what Saulnier believes is a waste area located outside the basement wall and covered by a large cement top. This version lacked any sort of plumbing. Saulnier reported that he has no plans for the basement privy at the moment.  He is concentrating his efforts on the earlier version by leveling the Milford pink granite entry slab that is tilting due to expanding roots from a huge maple tree.

Paul said he is thinking about a raffle to benefit the Historical Society: the winner will get to christen the new back house!  Saulnier stated that he will supply an air freshener, a bag of lime, and a 1909 edition of a Sears & Roebuck catalog to give the winner an authentic experience.

Showing that history does repeat itself, and wishing to be politically correct, Saulnier said the newly refurbished loo would be gender neutral.

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Bobby Blair

1 Comment

  1. Paul Saulnier on September 2, 2020 at 7:42 pm

    Thanks Bob, I think. I’m hoping that others in town who still have one will let me document them with pictures.