The “Unmentionable” Outhouse- or Blue Flowers Along the Roadside

25 Feb

I have been contemplating writing about the outhouses Elsie must have used in 1913-1916 in Arizona. Problem is, Elsie never ever even wrote such a word. She used to tell me that when they were riding in a wagon (3 day trip) from Long Beach to Palomar Mountain her father would of necessity stop for bathroom breaks. Only they never ever called it that. Alonzo (Elsie’s father) would say “do you girls want to go look at those pretty blue flowers over there?” That was 1904 language for bathroom break. When Elsie referred (in a letter to her mother) to “Myra (2 year old) not being very trim,” I am sure she was referring to a dirty diaper. Elsie would never have said such a word in a letter. After all in that day an outhouse was at times referred to as a “privy,” likely taken from the word private. By the time I came along my father would loudly shout out before he drained the water from our mountain cabin toilet, “potty call.” I think I like the “blue flower” language better. When our son Dan sold some of his first water-color paintings at age 15 in Antigua they were fabulous pictures of old wooden outhouses. Several of the local British ex-pats living here remarked at the art show that they wanted a copy of his wonderful “loo.” That was the first I had ever heard an outhouse referred to as a loo. Some think that came from the French word l’eau meaning water. For Elsie, writing of outhouses must have fallen under “unmentionables.” I seem to remember her using that word for a number of items not mentioned in “polite” society.

One Response to “The “Unmentionable” Outhouse- or Blue Flowers Along the Roadside”

  1. Connie (Anjuli) February 27, 2012 at 8:25 pm #

    yes it is amazing how we have developed into people who do not have many ‘off limit’ subjects. I actually would quite like having a few more topics pushed into the column of “not to be mentioned” ha ha!!

    Loved the idea of calling it “blue flower break” 🙂 In Singapore we called it “I have to go to the WC” (water closet)- or just toilet. And we definitely had the outhouses when I was growing up- which we referred to as Jamban (Malay word for toilet)– there was NO blue flower about it 🙂 ha ha!!

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