When I pulled into the driveway yesterday afternoon there were three scruffy looking guys digging a hole in the neighbor’s yard. Two were around the hole and the third was down in it, deep enough that I could only see his head and shoulders. I could see him throwing shovel loads of dirt as the other two looked on. Curious, I wandered over. “Are you guys digging a grave or digging for gold?”, I asked. “If it is gold, I think it is probably mine. If it’s a grave, I’m not quite ready because I have to drive my wife to the bus station.”
In fact, they were digging for gold. Sort of. These guys are Outhouse Archeologists… the shitty side of Indiana Jones. They search out the location of where an outhouse used to be and then dig into it to see what kind of stuff might have been dropped in – accidentally or intentionally. Of course, I asked if they ever found any bones. They told me nothing more than a random bone here and there… no skeletons in the shithouse. I guess skeletons are always in the closet.
What they did find was a lot of glass… mostly wine bottle sized beer bottles. They also found a lot of these:
I thought this was a medicine bottle but a little internet research tells me that this was a shoe polish company.
“The Whittemore Brothers Corporation was established in 1852 by David and Joshua Whittemore. The Cambridge-based company manufactured various shoes stains, including shoe polishes and pastes, meant for the treatment of leather footwear. By the early twentieth century, the firm expanded its line of products to include Cleanall, a detergent created to remove grease from fabrics, automobile interiors, and fenders. By 1930, the Whittemore Brothers Corporation employed over 150 people in its Albany Street factory.”
I also did a little research on these kinds of “archeologists” and found that there are several and they are quite common. They figure out the older parts of an old town, check for where outhouses might have been located. Using long “t” handled rods to check and feel the ground in the area, they then dig up the sod and place it on a tarp. They start to dig out the dirt from the hole and place that on another tarp. If they are lucky, they find something good. If not, just a bunch of busted up stuff. When done, they replace everything and it looks like they were never there.