Happiness is… to win a toilet!

image7 March 2014

Yes, late last night, I really did win a toilet orimage rather an outdoor toilet/outhouse/privy, call it whatever you want, in miniature, scale 1:12, and I am truly excited about it. Well, with modification I should say, since the dream one looks nothing like the one I won. But you could not beat the price! Someone threw themselves in to the auction rather late, which made it cost a pound more than the starting bid, but I could accept that. My winning bid was of 5 pounds 50 pence and comparing that to the ones I have been looking at, it was a great deal. It will take a bit of work though since my research so far has shown that this is a traditional American outhouse and not the sort found in Britain around 1940. As a matter of fact, this thing with banana moons all over it, to look out of (or in to it, horror of horrors!), came as a completely new thing to me. I have never been to one in the US, nor have I ever seen one. But according to T., yes this is what they look like. Makes it look a little bit too Muslim for my taste but… It is a rather bizarre shape for a toilet and what goes on in there. Has nothing to do with moons, does it? Or is that why one calls it mooning someone? Interesting thought!

As a matter of fact, I would have liked a more permanent structure kind of outhouse. During the war, and of course before, very few had indoor toilets or even bathrooms. In the Allpress House, that I mentioned in both my post from 2012 and in my dollhouse one from a couple of weeks ago, they actually had an indoor toilet which was rather unusual. But they had ten children, so perhaps it was not so strange that they decided to invest in one and find a corner to install it in. After all, we are talking about human beings here. Every family will and have always done what is best for them, even if it was or is not a common thing that was/is regularly done. I am sure that if one could find the money, one did start looking in to making one’s home more comfortable and less old-fashioned. But I am also sure of, that one did put it on hold during the war. The ones that had indoor toilets in 1939-1945, had them installed before the war. What was the point of spending money on your house if it might be bombed to pieces the next night?

The outdoor toilet would have been standing in the garden for a while though. Which is why I am a little displeased with having to go for a wood structure. In all likelihood, people usually had a brick structure. It would certainly have been a better investment and more easy to look after, than something made out of wood. This was the one, I would have loved to have chosen, for my plannedimage WWII house and garden. If I had had the money. But frankly, I do not think that 40 pounds is a justifiable price for an outdoor toilet, scale 1:12, when you can actually get a dollhouse with 6 rooms for the price of 50 pounds. Puts it all in a perspective, doesn’t it. What I do not like with this toilet found on mytinyworld, is that it has a water tank above the loo and I do not think that I have ever heard of such a thing. What is the point of having such a toilet in the garden? Then one might as well have had it indoors! Under a stair case if necessary. My first rule when I plan my dollshouse: Things must make sense to the people who would live in the house. Even if this is just a dollhouse, I will have to think along what a married couple would think like back then, in a standard size house. It is a lovely little thing they are selling though. Brick both on inside and out.  Looks SO British!

imageThe next one which was number 2 on my wish list, was this 15 Pound structure from Harlequins. But I was not perfectly happy with this tool shed looking outdoor toilet. And 15 pounds is a lot of money for such a “boring” thing like a toilet. Someone said that one should get a few expensive pieces for one’s dollshouse. I would rather those pieces be a stove and a mangler since they need to be in metal, to look real. IF one is going for a wood structure though, this is pretty of course with the slabs going horizontal, the way they do. I would have painted it brick-red colour and perhaps even put a green door on it. The good thing with this one is that it has a whole only, for the business, and no flushing option. I had a discussion with T. about this sort of toilet this morning. He has actually never been to one, himself. The only thing he has been to, is a port-a-potty, when he was in army training, and he thought THAT was ghastly. Have I been to one? You bet! I visited elderly relatives growing up and they all had outdoor loos. My paternal grandmother had a separate building beside her house, which housed three things. It was not fun to go in through the wrong door, in the middle of the night, when needing to go. One door led to a storage place for bicycles and other things, which was a harmless place to walk in to. I liked it in there, it had a special smell. Then there was the loo. That did not have a special smell, or rather a very special smell that was far from pleasant. The third door, was the one leading in to the coal room. It was soooooo dark and scary in there. I had too vivid of imagination about who might “live” in there, so if I walked in there during the dark night, I would always scream of fear. But grandmother was not the only one with an outdoor toilet. My other grandmother’s relatives and my grandfather’s, who had a summer-house in the forest, all had outhouses. As did my paternal grandfather’s farmer brother. I never met my paternal grandfather, but for some reason, we went and saw his brother and sister-in-law. My sister and I, needed to go and was told that the outhouse was behind the barn. So we headed there. I went in first and the stench was overwhelming. My sister screamed and ran back to the kitchen, because a group of about 20 hens had come up to her and she was scared of them. I just could not stay in the outhouse so I decided to do my business right outside. But the hens were a pest. They kept on pecking on me. I tried to shoo them away without any luck. When I got back in, the woman apologised for having forgot to tell us, that she always fed the hens by the outhouse!

Growing up, my grandfather always told me about how he and all his siblings, rarely bathed and when they did, it was in a metal tub in the kitchen, filled with water that they all had to bathe in one by one. The water was filthy dirty when the youngest stepped in to it. BBC’s information site on people’s lives in the 1940s, tell the same story. People rarely did take a bath. The Allpress family, in focus at the IWM exhibition “Family at War”, did not have a bathroom, only that toilet, mentioned above. They had a tub, which was kept outside, when not used. I am not sure if I paid attention to it, when “Cookie” and I studied the house. But their situation was not an unusual one at all, according to the BBC. So, most people did not have bathroom or a loo, at all. The outhouse served well during theimage day, but if one did not want to stumble out in the cold night air, one could resort to the potty kept under the bed. BBC says that at least children had these. Ebay has the most disgusting ones actually. Hand made potties with poop and pee in them. I will not get one of them, that is going a little bit too far in realism. But my husband really thought that this was a funny item! Right?!

Anyhow, since I last wrote about my dream of making a doll house, set during WWII, my mind has been totally pre-occupied with the idea. Every single free moment have been spent on the internet doing research. I am too much of a perfectionist to make a historical mistake. It would upset me no end. And as a historian, I just have to get it right. But one thing I have noticed is the lack of information. People have recorded what they find interesting of course, and house hold items and their use, do not seem to be one of them. Right now, I would really, really love to be at the Imperial War Museum and take a VERY close look at everything in their 1940s house, and in that Allpress dollhouse they had up in 2012. What I fear is that after all their extensive remodelling, they will not put things like that back in to the regular exhibition. Of course this year will also see an abundance of WWI items and exhibitions, when they finally open back up the 19th July. New and improved in their eyes, might not feel like it to me if my favourites are missing? Here is hoping that they do bring back, my favourites!

One thing I have discovered is that I am not the only one out there who want a dollhouse set in this time period. It’s wonderful to see people’s attempts. Some nicer than others. Questions I have about that period of time are: What did they use? What did the labels look like on the cans, foods and boxes? Many household items would not have been up to date. I just look at my own things. Some things in my kitchen, were bought a year ago, some twenty years ago. Some things, my mum gave me when she did not want them anymore. And some things I got from my grandmother’s, after her death and my mum and her sister got rid of a lot of things. I went through the throw away boxes, and had a field day. People in the 1930s-1940s would have done the same! A decade of depression and then a war. I am sure that many a home would have had utensils from even the Victorian era or at least the Edwardian one. Our homes are not clearly 2014, they are all a mixture of several decades. Same goes for furniture. During the war, furniture was rationed. Factories produced weapons, not furniture. There were some utility furniture, very simple design, but people were encouraged to look in their attics for old things that they could use. And ask relatives. When it came to garden tools and digging for Victory and so forth, one was supposed to do what our neighbour did when he first moved in, he asked if we could not share garden tools. The Ministry of Information film that I watched to see what garden tools actually existed 1940, said that if one did not have a particular tool, one could borrow it from a neighbour. One really made do, during the war. Difficult to have all this in mind, with all the nice things out there. But to make a realistic house, I need to restrict myself as they would have had to do.

Just doing this reasearch, is so much fun! I can highly recommend it and hope that someone out there, will find my findings, fun to read.



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4 responses to “Happiness is… to win a toilet!

  1. Just to clarify: I did win the toilet on ebay and we were only two bidders! That is probably the only way I will ever win anything.

  2. Really interesting and important post! I think almost every small business giveaway I’ve seen on Facebook has violated one or another of these rules, and even the university I go to has violated these rules on a contest before (the winner was chosen by number of likes on different Facebook posts).

  3. Congratulations have done very good work