Another photo today, of an inspirational wall decoration from an outhouse at an Amish school (thanks again to Karen Johnson-Weiner).
If there is any place that could use a little livening up, I guess it is the outhouse. And why not include an uplifting message? Actually I guess this is more of a lesson in humble sharing:
Outhouses have been in the news lately. USA Today just published an article on conflict between Amish and authorities over outhouse waste in Cambria County, Pennsylvania (I’ve linked to it on the Amish America Facebook page).
“The more traditional the group, the more likely some kind of friction is,” Donald Kraybill explains in the article. Recently, other conflicts have occurred over smoke detectors, the Slow-Moving-Vehicle triangle, and photo IDs.
Amish outhouse usage
The outhouse is used by plainer Amish groups, for instance Swartzentruber Amish. However even more technologically progressive Amish may have an outhouse, despite having indoor plumbing.
A produce farmer friend in Lancaster County, PA recently had one installed on his property. I’d say it’s something of a deluxe model–not just a hole cut in a board, but fairly comfy-looking seating.
He has a couple of bathrooms in the home though (I stick to those). The outhouse is more of a convenience for his primarily female workers, so they don’t have to trek into the house. Like most farmers, for my friend “finding a corner” in the barn is usually his first choice.
You may even see an odd mix in some communities. Many of the Swiss Amish in Allen County, Indiana live in fairly expensive-looking brick homes. But a number of Amish in this community still use outhouses.
Finally, as seen above Amish schools typically have outhouses. Schools tend to use lower levels of technology than businesses and homes. So you’ll usually see two small matching buildings behind Amish schoolhouses.