One warm summer evening a local character named Leggett Walker took his usual place on the retaining wall in front of the County Courthouse in Nashville and announced that he had solved his outhouse problem “once and fer all.”
“How’s that?” someone asked.
“Well”, Leggett replied. “I just bought me a piece of ground up on Creamer Road and built me a five-room modern house. I don’t have to go outside to the privy no more.”
“Wait jist a minute”, someone else said. “You got to have runnin’ water fer an indoor privy. They don’t even have ‘lectricity to run a pump up on Creamer Road.”
“Don’t need no ‘lectricity and don’t need no pump”, said Leggett with an impish grin. “I jist built the master bedroom with a big winda’ that opens right out over the creek.”
In addition to obvious utility, Brown County outhouses provided a useful kind of sanctuary. They offered a place of refuge from hard and monotonous physical labor. Just as there was unconditional safety for anyone within the walls of the old Spanish Missions in the Southwestern U.S., folks who made it into an outhouse in Brown County back then were pretty much safe from work demands until they came out of their own accord.
By these accounts you can already see that outhouses were on peoples’ minds a lot in the good old days in Brown County. However, they reached their highest state of appreciation as objects of exciting recreation in the risky custom of pushing them over on Halloween. Plans were discussed all during the year about whose outhouses would get dumped over and how to get the job done. Owners made plans, too. They fastened their outhouses to other buildings or a big post set deep in the ground. They loaded shotgun shells with rock salt. They planned to string trip wires to signal the presence of trespassers by ringing a bell up at the house or pulling over a bunch of noisy trash that might scare the dumpers away. They even figured to hide close by their outhouses and nab some of the dumpers.
One time the new owner of a summer cabin high on the bluff overlooking the town of Nashville was warned that his outhouse was a favorite target of Halloween vandals. He actually sought to beat them at their game by rebuilding his outhouse around a tree.