Privial Pursuits: Outhouse expert offers sage advice

Posted: Tuesday, November 04, 2003

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. (AP) Few people enjoy bathroom humor as much as Mary Frazier Long.

In fact, the 71-year-old retired schoolteacher often gets phone calls from strangers, looking to share a few dirty jokes of their own.

That's because Long has spent almost 20 years collecting photos, stories, jokes and interesting information about outhouses, which are fast becoming a thing of the past, she said.

''The first thing people tear down when they're moving up is the privy. By the 1990s, there were few left in Gwin-nett County,'' she said.

In 1984, Long and her husband, Dean, published a book called ''Old Georgia Privies,'' with photographs of Georgian outhouses, accompanied by pertinent poems and sayings.

When she retired a decade later, the Lawrenceville resident began lecturing around the state to civic clubs and church groups.

She donates fees from her talk, titled Privial Pursuits, and profits from book sales to scholarship funds.

Long also has documented presidential privies, historic privies, ancient privies and European privies.

At a German castle, she learned that the outhouse opened onto a moat below, ''making moats more dangerous than we ever thought.''

Long said she's learned more about outhouses than she ever wanted to know, but she does offer some sage advice: ''Don't ever site your privy under an apple tree, because all those apples dropping on you will break your concentration.''

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