A day in the life

By Shelling


I was born in a small country village in 1953. During my first years I remember the outdoor privy and that we got our water from our own well in the yard through a hand pump in the kitchen. The house was cold in the mornings during the dark months, I used to stay under my blanket until I heard my mother had lit the kitchen stove, and then I'd wait a little bit more before I got up so the kitchen would be warm. I also remember I was scared of the dark as a child. Having to get out of bed, put some clothes on and go to the privy outside at night was something to be avoided. The total darkness, cold wind  and, not to mention, the big spiders lurking in there could make any child constipated.
Apart from that, I think I had a rather happy childhood. The big change didn't happen until 1966, when we had electric heating and an indoor water closet, water through a tap in the kitchen happened a little before that. I felt so modern.

That's not all that long ago. Where I live now, on the old farm, there is of course also an outdoor privy, as there still is in many of todays summer cottages. Cottages made out of what earlier was the homes of ordinary working people. Most of the houses are renovated and have an indoor WC but the outdoor privy is often kept as a reminder of olden time or, as an "extra" loo, should something happen to the water supply. 
I'd never opened the door to the outdoor privy here before but did today, and unexpectedly found a fully functioning toilet with barrels, paper and all. I guess my old landlord has used it while he was here working with the wood or whatever on the farm leaving the indoor toilet to his tenants. 
Old stories say that the privy was a place where you could meet and discuss this and that while doing what you came for, the concept of shame and solitary business must have developed along with the indoor WC. I remember my early school where we had a row of holes in the privy, at least five or six of them, but I don't recall shame if anyone else should come in while I was there, that came later. The girls had their own row, of course. This privy is clearly a family privy. Three holes, the biggest to the left and the smallest to the right. The right one also has a foot rest for the small bum'd short legged people. Time has worn down this little room. Normal for these places was to have wallpaper for decoration, and to keep the worst draft out, and usually you'd find decorative pictures of all kinds on the wall and, of course a stack of magazines for reading and for disposing afterwards. There often was a wash basin and soap for washing your hands. 
Sweden, less than three generations ago.

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