A relic of the first
In the backyard of a house on Avenue M is a small shed made of thick cypress boards. It has double walls and three diamond-shaped windows set high in the side. There is a thick corrugated tin roof.
Louis Van Vleet remembers the little shed from long ago. He said, it was one of three outhouses that stood behind the old
Last week, he and Holly Lemons arrived at the Times office with pictures of the old school and a page from the 1913 Sanborn Insurance maps showing the main Chapman building, with three little buildings at the back of the block occupied by the school. There were small outbuildings located at the northeast and northwest corners of the lot, and a larger outbuilding at the center rear.
These were the outhouses. It may be that the two smaller outhouses were designated for girls and boys, and the larger shed in the middle for teachers. This arrangement was used at other schools of the same period.
“Let’s go find some history!” said Lemons and we piled into her car and set off in search of the Chapman outhouse.
When we arrived, Van Vleet looked at the little building with something like awe. “My mother has probably been in there,” he said.
The shed on Avenue M has three doors, one on each end and one in the middle, so it was probably a three-seater. The little diamond-shaped windows, for ventilation and light, were set high enough so nobody could peak inside. Each of the doors was furnished with a lock, so you probably had to ask the teacher for a key when you wanted to use the “necessity.”
The original floor would have had holes to allow waste to drop into a pit. This has apparently been covered with a new board floor without openings. There also would have been interior walls dividing the stalls, which have been removed, and the seats are gone as well.
The pit under an outhouse had to be dug deep enough to prevent hookworms from escaping through the soil and infecting barefoot people near the privy. Hookworms can travel four feet through the soil so pits were generally dug at least six or seven feet deep. This would also reduce the problem of splashing. The building would have to be moved over a new pit periodically and the old pit capped with fresh soil from the new hole. The contents then degraded over time into very rich soil.
Roderick Robinson and his sister own the property where the shed is located. He said the house there originally belonged to his grandmother, Georgia Livingston, who passed away in 1990. He said there was a second shed of similar design on the property at one time, but he tore it down. He said it was smaller than the three-door shed still standing. That gives a clue the surviving outhouse is probably the large one that was located center rear behind the former Chapman Schools, and may have been the teachers’ privy.
The building is substantial, with thick cypress beams supporting the roof. Robinson said a tree fell on the shed without doing serious damage several years ago.
Robinson, 47, said the shed has been at its current site for as long as he can remember. He said his grandmother originally used it as a washhouse and he remembers it first contained a scrubbing board and later a wringer washer.
Recently, he cleaned the shed and found some treasures, which he shared with the Times. He found three textbooks dating to the 1950s: “Social Studies Skills,” “Spelling in Everyday Life,” and “North American Neighbors,” a geography text. These would not have come from the old
Robinson also found an illustrated copy of “Bible Footlights,” a study guide for Christians, and a fishing pole with rayon line and a cork handle.
Thank you, Mr. Robinson, for allowing us to photograph your shed and sharing your artifacts and information.
This is an interesting piece of history but it raises some questions.
First, does anyone know if the three outhouses at the first
Second, when was the old
Finally, when did indoor plumbing become common in
Can you answer these questions? If so, please contact the Times at 653-8868 or contact Lois Swoboda at firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘I do hope you will get it straight’
A Bible study guide, found in the former
December 13, 1954
I am writing you concerning this account you have charged me with. I have not ordered anything on account with you. I did order some curtains from you but I paid cash for them and I have the money order stubbs to prove that I payed for what I got. And have not ordered any thing else. I do hope you will get it straight.
Mrs. Visa Adams
P.S I do not even have a charge account with you all.