Privy

Our friend Willie White stopped by this morning while k and I were drinking coffee on the front porch. Willie has a business taking houses apart and salvaging the architectural details. Willie also has a passion for collecting old bottles and other items; so he spends his weekends going around the city looking for old privies to dig. Privies, if you aren’t familiar with the term, and the places out back of old houses where people did what people need to do — before the advent of indoor plumbing. Apparently, people also threw their trash into privies and so digging these old privies can unearth all kinds of detritus from life in earlier times.

Willie walks around the yard sticking a long metal probe into the ground trying to divine what lies 3 to 5 feet below the surface. Apparently this is a bit of a black art. Willie let me try it but I couldn’t tell the difference between hitting rocks and bricks and hitting porcelain or glass. Proof that Willie knows what he is doing came when they located a Privy along the back property line.

They didn’t find anything interesting enough for them to keep but k and I now have a large collection of broken bottles and pottery shards from the 19th century. Including this c. 1910 (according to Willie) bottom of an Abita beer bottle.

Bottom of Old Abita Bottle

It would have been great to find some cool in-tact artifact. But just the adventure of digging a big hole in our back yard turned an ordinary morning into another magical New Orleans moment.

Oh, yeah. And before all this I went on a bike ride around St. Roch with Ed Blakely (the Recovery Czar) and our James Carter our City Council representative.

Digging in the yard was way cooler.

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