Thursday, November 5, 2009

Oh potty, how I love thee

Its provenance was curiosity. Why are Nutmeggers so fond of these little houses with dollhouse proportions out back?
Leslie and Richard Strauss of Chester wondered aloud why residents of their 350-year-old village maintained their backyard latrines and stumbled onto a treasure of historical remembrances, anecdotes, lore, photos and even poetry — all centered on the most necessary room in (or out of) the house.
“Outhouses of Connecticut,” with photographs by the couple’s daughter Jessica Strauss Hunt, ($14.95, Strauss House Creations) offers a visual tour through colonial-era latrines lovingly kept up by their owners, but it’s also a repository of Connecticut history from the perspective of the people.
Some are miniature replicas of the main house, others have been repurposed as garden sheds, storage facilities, and a select few are still in use for the occasional hiker or during an unfortunate loss of water or plumbing indoors.
Read about the “Portland pooper,” three-seaters, the meaning of moon and star carvings which typically adorn a loo’s front door, the Moodus church pastor who conducts Sunday services while urging his parishioners to go light on the coffee before Mass, why many latrines have handles on the sides, and how one 90-year-old former project engineer neatly assembled a tiny carved outhouse inside a narrow-necked jug.
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