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Photographer's Note

"Loo" is Australian for bathroom. "Privy" is perhaps the equivalent American terminology, but it doesn't rhyme well with "View". Perhaps I have an "anal personality" (Freudian speak) which might explain my fascination with outhouses, or perhaps it is only that I spent summers on my grandparents farm in Canada where outhouses were a fact of life. That one was a "two-holer", which, in sociological circles, could add volumes to research and development. Of course we in modern times have multiple hole bathrooms, however they are almost always equipped with "stalls" or cubicles. Back then they used stalls for horses, and many people think we now keep jackasses in cubicles.

Whatever it is I am apparently not alone as I have seen whole photography books devoted to this subject. Maybe it is some personality trait common to those interested in the vicarious enjoyment of taking pictures of the lives of others (some might call it "peeping"). On the other hand maybe the owner was an exhibitionist and the window was placed there for others to look into.

There were two main categories of outhouse design (a third was to mount the outhouse over a stream or tidal water, which would be extremely frowned upon by sanitary departments of this day and age). One was a moveable buiding, which could be dragged over a new hole, whereupon you simply filled the old hole with dirt and planted a garden over top of it. The second, which my grandparents adhered to, was attached to the woodshed, which was attached to the outkitchen, which was attached to the main house by a hallway (thus keeping it as far as possible from the living quarters, while enabling ingress and egress without going outside during Canadian blizzards). There were a couple of problems in that this would require that some unlucky soul would have to periodically hitch the horse up to the recepticle on the receiving end and haul it out to be emptied. The other problem was that when the cold wind blew in the wrong direction it came in through the lower end and created quite a chilling effect on whatever was hanging in the hole.

The whole "window" dimension of outhouse design is another matter. The stereotype is that of a "quarter moon" cut in the door, without glass. Light was often an issue, as there frequently was no electricity, so holes served a dual purpose in providing light as well as ventilation. I had one friend who installed a skylight in his loo. Of course the most expedient solution was to simply leave the door open, which provided grand ventilation and view. I remeber one loo in the mountains of San Diego where I could see about 70 miles, all the way to the Coronado Islands, offshore from Tijuana, Mexico. That was truly a "loo with a view". However, in a Canadian blizzard I would have been left in the dark!

I think perhaps a T.E. theme on outhouse art & architecture might be in order. I suppose the "art" aspect could include the crack writing and graffitti adorning public restrooms. It could certainly teach us a lot about the world.

The pictured loo certainly must have been the outhouse of a very important person, or a photographer, because very few buildings of this type were ever adorned with a window! No, the image does not need straightening, the bulding was leaning so much that it had been propped up with a 4x4 to prevent it from falling over. Maybe the inhabitant had been the victim of that notorious trick where the occupied building is tipped over, and they never managed to get it back to it's fully erect position again (no pun intended).

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Additional Photos by Larry Carolan (lcarolan) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 210 W: 12 N: 383] (930)
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