Das Geheime
Home Up The Black Hole Literary Review Wm. E. Allendorf, Prop.

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Adapted from an entry on 24hourcampfire.com

I f you look closely, you'll see the crescent moon over the door of the new outhouse at the campsite.  I researched this outhouse thoroughly on the web.  What you see is a privy that is efficient, sanitary, and historically accurate. One thing I researched is:  Why a Crescent? What I found was that the crescent and star began as the standard outhouse symbols in the New England colonies--Crescent for women and star for men. The problem was that the men's privy was usually in such disrepair, most guests preferred to use the women's privy. Fast forward a generation or two and the star was dropped, since it now had the meaning of a dirty privy.

I built this outhouse for our campground, which is way in the back of our land. The women campers were always making frequent caravans up to the rectory for use of the indoor plumbing, and our campouts were tearing up the pastures. The outhouse fixed that problem. As a bonus, when I'm out hunting, I often get the call about mid-morning, and this was a handy place , close to a several stand locations. I wanted to be true to tradition, the crescent cutout and the seat cutout were both thrown in the cesspit, as a clue to future treasure hunters.

In a history-repeats-itself experience, we had our big grand-opening of the campground two weekends ago. Many of the campers were not experienced and many of the women had never made any transactions in the great outdoors. One woman told me the brand new privy had "made the weekend for her." Typically, the men weren't as interested, choosing a tree or grabbing a shovel and heading for the woods.

Why a crescent and star? I was not able to find that out for sure, but as I sat testing the facility in early July, I reason to speculate. One thing that is important in privy construction is that the intrusion of light must be limited wherever possible to reduce the incidence of flying insects. Mine was as dark as night on the inside, save the light coming from the screened crescent over the door. In order to give a wee bit of light, I whitewashed the interior with leftover ceiling paint. The net effect-- a small shaft of light from above, reflecting off the white interior, was a bit weird and otherworldly. Though it was midday, the light coming to me on the throne was pale and colorless, not unlike moonlight. I hypothesize that a star, a bit smaller than a crescent moon would have thrown even less light in the men's facility.


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