Friday, March 23, 2012

Would A Privy By Any Other Name......?

Ok, I have to get this off my chest. It seems a recent prospective guest from a local village needed to come by in advance of her visit to see where she would be staying. That's fine, we love to show our accommodations. But, in her case the English language and simple logic seem to have confused her.

She booked online and the word "Privy" in our website blew right by her. Hey, it is a well-used work in her native language.

"You mean outhouse," she says. Well, it is an outhouse, but so is a chicken house, a smoke house, a garage, etc. Specifically it is a privy, a crapper, a necessary room in the yard. It serves a specific function. It is a privy.

For the record, our outhouse (privy) is not something to fear. Many folks linger there to observe the photographs and poems that line the walls. Often they leave personal thoughts in our "Privy Book' where others have been inspired to muse as well.

"Now, your website says that Aunt Phoebe's Log Cabin is 'off the grid'" and things operate much like they did in the 1880's, but will we have air conditioning?" We tried to break it to her gently, telling her that to supply A/C would require that ubiquitous power source that came into common usage around here in the mid-20th century. "No," that is?

Today as we prepare both of our Off-the-grid cabins for Chicago city dwellers who visit routinely, we are again aware of the differences in folks. Phoebe's cabin overlooking the river valley and Line Camp Cabin in the trees near the river are quite popular with some folks. For others, we have our totally modern cottage and B&B.

Can you help us describe our privies more plainly, so there will be no confusion? We dislike the word "outhouse" for the reasons stated above. Perhaps we should write, "You will have complete and private access to our secluded two-holer." "Necessary functions will occur at an appropriate distance from the lodging facilities."

Well as you can see, it is difficult. Good luck, and thanks for trying.


  1. This makes me laugh. Air conditioning. As for privy...hmm. Girl Scouts call them ET's. Doesn't the army call them latrines? Privy is best.

  2. I talked to a couple of twenty-something guests the other day and asked about a "privy". Got only blank stares. It happens more often than not. Amazing that the word is gone from the lexicon of folks younger than 40.
    Hey, what does ET stand for?

  3. Ah...the joys of the privy. I have to admit I have a fondness for Line Camps accomodation. Plenty of reading material, a journal to make notes in, a moment of peace while the dogs try and figure out what I'm doing in there.

    While the younger generation, and a percentage of the elder, think we're crazy for feeling blissful over no a/c, no flushings, lanterns and cooking over a fire - I return the feeling. I think their crazy for not getting out and enjoying the lack of xboxes, canned air, constant buzzing of cell phones and the panic when your Ipod dies. Here's to more days spent in a privy than on a couch.

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