"The Authority" sounds like a moniker for a big, muscle-bound wrestler in the AWF, or maybe an underworld crime boss. But in fact it's the sort-of-tongue-in-cheek name chosen by George Papp Sr. both for himself and for the title of his self-published book ... on building outhouses.
Yes, Papp is an authority on historically accurate "thunder boxes," if he does say so himself. And so his website and book reveal. Papp, who lives in Colchester, Conn., is speaking tonight in Bristol on the subject, and no doubt will have copies of his book ready to autograph and sell.
And there is no more suitable place in Vermont — maybe on earth — than Bristol for an authority on outhouses to visit. Because what comes to mind when you think of Bristol on the Fourth of July? The outhouse race!
On a shed-building website I found courtesy of Mr. Google, Papp reveals that he started building outhouses and sheds because "daddy made me do it." By which he means his daughter — after purchasing a rural home in New Hampshire — told him she needed one:
If you have a daughter you certainly know what daddy means. Dad is one thing, daddy is another, and she used the daddy card when she asked. When she uttered that word, I was obligated. When I built that Kybo in my driveway, it attracted more folks than ants to sugar and brought in several requests, and it has grown to a satisfying pastime.
Papp's folksy writing style and wry sense of humor comes across online and, I imagine though I haven't seen it, makes his book, The Authority, more entertaining than a mere how-to manual.
If I weren't going to the Green Mountain Opera Festival in Warren tonight, I just might have to go listen to a talk about outhouses instead. If you do, please report back.
The Bristol Historical Society presents George Papp Sr. tonight, June 20, 7 p.m., at Howden Hall, 19 West Street, in Bristol.
Photo courtesy of secrets-of-shed-building.com.