My house was built in 1918. WWI was ending. Some people had some money and others had very little. It was a very different kind of time from things we know now. Streets weren’t paved; most people still had horses and buggies, if they could afford that, or they walked where they were going. Prohibition was in force at the time. It was a simpler time in many ways. At our local historical society, we have information about the stores that were downtown, and to learn about them is fascinating. You bought your flour and made your bread, instead of stopping at the quick stop market on the corner, lol. You might have made your clothes, depending on how much money you had.
Old Mr. Ocker had enough money to build a double house, half for he and his wife and half for his daughter and son-in-law. He built a big strong house using a lot of oak, with a standing seam roof, and had it covered it with stucco that had small pieces of broken up, multicolored glass mixed in with the stucco. Stucco was a big thing at the time. (Since had to have the stucco removed and siding put on.) Inside he used doors that had been in some hotel; we can tell that cos several had the door knobs relocated to the other side, several were cut off at the bottom to make them fit, and there are some interior doors that have ornate key plates with Oriental designs on them. Other than those differences, the doors are all panel doors that are exactly the same. I have never been able to find out where the doors came from, and I probably never will. There were several old hotels downtown around and before that time tho, so maybe they were local and he got a good deal.
He built the house on a long skinny lot with not much land on either side of the house. On the lot to the south, next to an alley, was a small frame house that was torn down about 1934. Off to the north of the house was a cemetery which was established in 1861, and is the resting place of many Civil War soldiers. Also an interesting place to go to look at really old grave stones.
Down at the corner, there was a stop on a trolley line that ran thru these small towns. It was discontinued a year or so after the house was built, since there were now getting to be a few cars around, for those who could afford them.
There was electricity and water both available in town. There was running water in the house, but they still built an outhouse out behind the house. There was a concrete form built into the ground, a big square box with no concrete at the bottom. The “two holer” outhouse sat over top of the hole, which was the way outhouses were built.
A few years after we moved here, a hole started to open up in the back yard, straddling the property line between the two sides of the house. At first we couldn’t figure out what it was….then as it opened up more, falling into itself, and we realized: that is an outhouse hole! We put bricks and stones and hunks of concrete in the hole so nobody could ever hurt themselves because of it. I’ve since had it covered up completely.
Years ago I worked with a lady who, when she found out where I lived, told me that her grandparents were the Ocker family that built the house. We talked about the house and she told me some things she could remember about it. I told her we knew there was an outhouse out back cos the hole had begun to fall in and we had to put bricks and stones down in it.
OH, she said. Don’t ever go digging down in there cos there’s glass down in the hole! When old Grandma Ocker knew the revenuers were coming, she would take her bottles of moonshine and throw the whole bottle down the outhouse hole, so she wouldn’t get caught!
I like to know history, of my town, and my property and my house. So, there’s some interesting history, about the house and the outhouse hole. I think about the history I know of this place sometimes when I’m outside doing things, and wonder what it must have been like to live here then. I’m glad to not have to go to the outhouse!