In the years I’ve been blogging, no topic has drawn more visitors here than sod houses. I hope this post, showing the exterior of a Kansas soddy, and the next, its interior, will satisfy the curious!
This sod house is located outside Gaithersburg, Kansas. You can see the family had access to enough wood — perhaps a sawmill nearby? — to build a door, frame out several windows, and lay lumber for a roof (though they still chose to place sod on top).
A pitched roof would have made rainstorms more comfortable, as it was typical for water to seep through flat-roofed sod houses, where it would continue to “rain” inside well after a storm.
Sod bricks were typically 1′ x 2′ x 4″. They weighed roughly fifty pounds and were stacked, grass-side down, so that walls were two-feet thick. These sturdy homes warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Structurally, they weren’t especially neat and tidy. This poor wall looks like it’s melting.
While researching for MAY B., I’d read about women who’d left comfortable lives determined to make this new world as familiar and lovely as possible. My mother included a note with this picture, the words of her tour guide:
Bird cages were kept to show some gentility or civility attesting to their previous lifestyle.
I included a stanza in MAY B.’s poem 80 that was inspired by this bird cage picture:
I button Ma’s fine boots.
I wish I had insisted on keeping Hiram’s old ones,
but I know Ma gave me hers
for herself as much as me,
a message to Mrs. Oblinger,
fresh from the city,
showing that women out here still have some grace.
My feet will hurt, I reckon,
before I make it far.
Come back Wednesday for views of the interior.