Dear Sun Spots: I am writing in regards to a question sent to you seeking privy diggers located in Maine: John and Rhonda’s Privy Digging is located in Livermore Falls, (207) 897-6580. – Rhonda Drake, Livermore Falls.

Rhonda also kindly provided the following history and information via e-mail that she and John have experienced in their years of digging privies.

It began as a hobby, she says. Both love history and old bottles. What started out as spinoff from metal detecting, she says, has become the only recreation they have enjoyed during the last three spring, summer and fall seasons.

Privy digging entails using a T-shaped probe around old farm houses and cellar holes in order to find differences in soil. From there, a tarp is placed near the site to be dug. The top soil is neatly removed, placed on the tarp and the dig continues. The dirt is placed back into the hole after the dig is done, with the topsoil being neatly put back into place. (Like a puzzle). Before the dig, an arrangement is made splitting the “once-lost, found-again treasures!” John and Rhonda have dug many old cellar holes, privies, old town dumps, etc. and began advertising their business in the fall of 2003.

Outhouses have been in a precipitous decline for more than a century, and the decline is accelerating, in Maine and across the United States.

Half the houses in the United States lacked plumbing in 1940, when the Census Bureau began keeping plumbing records. By 2000, only 0.64 percent of U.S. households did not have a flush toilet, a shower or bathtub, and hot and cold piped water.

In Maine, houses without plumbing are typically located in poor, rural communities, and islands with limited water supplies.

According to the census, 4,468 housing units in Maine lacked complete plumbing fixtures in 2000, putting the state near the top of the most-primitive list. Only Kentucky, West Virginia, Hawaii, Arizona, New Mexico and Alaska had a greater percentage of homes without plumbing.

Had the census counted camps and summer homes as well as year-round homes, Maine likely would rival Alaska as having the highest number of houses without plumbing. That means Maine, as far as outhouses go, could be number one or number two in the nation.

Outhouses come in a variety of architectural styles – one-holers, two-holers, even an eight-holer at a lumber camp near Allagash Lake. Double-decker outhouses were popular in places like Maine because, in deep snow, the second story still could be reached.

Dear Sun Spots: I would like the address of Bill O’Reilly of The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News Network? – J.B., No Town.

Try contacting O’Reilly through Fox News at 1211 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, or via e-mail at [email protected]

Dear Sun Spots: In response to D.K., Bryant Pond Jan. 9, Audio-Forum has a catalog that covers 103 languages. There’re 5½ pages on French alone in the current catalog, ranging from children to adult; introduction to full courses. There’s music, literature, videos and games; Scrabble and Monopoly and an English/ French dictionary. For a catalog you can reach them at 800-243-1234 or via e-mail at [email protected] or You can reach them via mail at Suite LA 40, 96 Broad Street, Guilford, CT 06437. – Doris Burhoe, Auburn.

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