Bob Weaver built his state-of-the-art outhouse in his backyard in Hur. Folks have come from far and wide to take in its amazing amenities (Photos by: Craig Cunningham)
Tuesday December 4, 2007
State native gives guided tours of his state-of-the-art loo
by Kelly L. Holleran
Daily Mail staff
The first thing Bob Weaver did when he moved back to Calhoun County was build an outhouse.
Weaver and his wife of 33 years, Dianne, didn't really need the outhouse.
They have indoor plumbing.
The project was just something Weaver, 67, wanted to do on his return to the village of Hur in 1995.
He spent his childhood and teenage years playing with friends, working at the local weekly and using an outhouse on the very same property where he now lives.
"I just thought I would recreate my youth here by building an outhouse," he said. "I think it was the first thing I did when we moved back here, just for the heck of it."
Every day for two weeks, Weaver slaved away on his privy.
He dug a 10-foot hole and hammered offset printing plates on top to serve as a roof.
The finished product is a sight to behold, as evidenced by the people who have traveled for many miles to see it.
Outside, the tiny building is decorated with old West Virginia license plates, something Weaver has collected for years.
Rusted horseshoes hang upside down.
A lightning rod on the roof keeps occupants safe.
But inside is where the true treasures lie.
A tiny, working black-and-white TV rests on a tiny shelf in front of the toilet. A Coca-Cola radio sits atop the TV.
To the left is a small library full of dozens of books and old National Geographics.
Weaver occasionally comes out to his outhouse to watch football on television or to listen to it on the radio. The outhouse is fully stocked. Bug spray lines the shelves of the outhouse. There is a full library for anyone who is bored...
Plastered on the walls are pictures of Victoriana from magazines.
Plastic spiders and flies the size of a fist hang near windows.
"The outhouse I had when I was a kid always had bugs in it," he explained. "There were bugs and lizards and snakes. I thought I'd put a few of those up, just to make it feel like the real thing, you know?"
An old heater that still works sits on the wooden floor.
A primitive plumbing system distributes rainwater to a sink. Above the sink is a medicine cabinet stocked with razor blades.
Scattered throughout the interior are odd and unusual knick-knacks.
"A lot of dead people have laid on that," Weaver said while pointing to an old head block for a mortician's embalming table that he kept from his days as an undertaker.
Weaver keeps memorabilia inside his outhouse. Sitting on a shelf is a roll of "20-ply" toilet paper Weaver's wife made of rough, brown paper. Written on the roll is "Ruff and Tuff. Doesn't take any ... off anyone"
Hammered onto the top of a bookshelf is a football-shaped piece of wood with the name John R. McCoy and "1895 to 1951" written on it. Once upon a time, it was the latch on McCoy's outhouse. He was Weaver's grandfather.
Over the years, the outhouse has come in handy.
The great ice storm of February 2003 knocked out power for tens of thousands of central West Virginians for more than a week and rendered the Weavers' indoor bathroom useless.
He and Dianne used the outhouse for 10 days until the power came back on.
Weaver occasionally ventures out to listen to a football game on the radio.
One day his son was in the yard when someone on a four-wheeler pulled up and asked if he could use the outhouse.
After the man was finished, he walked across the yard to Weaver's son and handed him $50.
Another time, a man and his wife stopped in front of the Weavers' house in a huge, expensive motor home.
The couple was from Michigan.
Somehow, they had heard about the outhouse and wanted to see it for themselves.
They ended up staying the whole day and chatting with Bob and Dianne.
Weaver will gladly give anyone who pulls up in front of his house a tour. Once, he arrived home to find four or five cars with out-of-state plates parked in front of his house with guests seeking a visit
Another day, four or five cars were parked in front of the Weavers' house.
They all had out-of-state license plates and were interested in the outhouse.
When asked how his outhouse became so popular, Weaver shrugs his shoulders and answers, "The Hur Herald, I guess."
Weaver is referring to an online newspaper he started as sort of a joke.
When Weaver first moved back to the village of Hur, population 14, there was a mock election to elect a mayor.
Weaver, who wanted to reconnect with the place where he grew up, decided to print a one-page newspaper with the results of the election.
He handed out Xeroxed copies to friends and neighbors.
They liked it so much that they requested more.
And so Weaver began printing feature stories.
The paper continued to grow. At one point, Weaver was making 1,000 copies.
"There was a lot of humor stories in it," he said. "I just really loved it."
Things have changed a lot since the early days of The Hur Herald.
Weaver no longer prints copies. The Hur Herald is now entirely online.
The Herald site has readers in all 50 states.
Weaver goes out on car accidents and fires and takes pictures. He writes articles about controversial subjects and feature stories about rural life in the good old days.
Weaver's news career goes back a long way.
While he was in high school, he worked at the local community paper.
After he graduated from Calhoun County High School in 1958, Weaver moved to Marietta, Ohio, to work at radio station WMOA.
He stayed only for about one year before moving back to Spencer to help start a radio station.
It didn't pay a whole lot.
"I remember walking down the street in Spencer one day in the early '60s," he said. "I thought I'm going to have to make up my mind whether I want an apartment or a car. I can't have both. I chose the car and slept in it.
"All the newspaper and radio jobs were poverty wages back then. It's just unbelievable. It still is, comparatively speaking."
Weaver lived in his 1954 Chevy for only a couple of months, but stayed in Spencer for much longer, getting a job a a local funeral home.
He then went to mortuary school.
The job was depressing. Weaver said before long, he found himself drinking a bottle of vodka a day.
It took about five years for Weaver to sober up. When he did, he started a drug and alcohol treatment center and began helping others try to defeat their addictions.
For 25 years, Weaver was a counselor and helped to start treatment centers throughout West Virginia and Ohio.
Meanwhile, he had gotten divorced from his first wife, with whom he had two children - Eric, 40, and Tracy, 37. He married Dianne 33 years ago and they have one child - Jon, 27.
Getting divorced and starting a drug and alcohol treatment center were two of the four biggest events of Weaver's life, he said.
The first major event happened during Weaver's days as an undertaker. In the aftermath of the Buffalo Creek Flood in 1972, he had to go to Logan County and embalm the bodies of victims, including many children.
"It was a real traumatic experience for me," he said. "It changed the way of how I view the world. I've become a skeptic. I'm a happy skeptic. All the politicians and corporations meshed with each other to cover up, blame others."
Weaver himself is a successful Democratic politician now serving on the Calhoun County Commission.
The fourth major event is his current endeavor - The Hur Herald.
Recently, Weaver featured his outhouse on The Hur Herald Web site. And he put it this way when encouraging sightseers to come take a look.
"Group tours are available and there is ample parking for tour buses," he wrote. "However, if you should get carried away with all the amenities, and functional reality attacks you during your visit you can actually use the outhouse."
Weaver spent two weeks building his one-of-a-kind outhouse. Inside it are all sorts of little trinkets. It also has two windows. Huge plastic bugs line the walls. They are reminiscent of Bob's childhood outhouse where it was not uncommon to see real bugs...
Contact writer Kelly Holleran at kel...@dailymail.com or 348-1796.