Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Outhouse

In the early years of my life I lived on a street called Dunrobin, or was it Avenue. Whatever the case, I was only in grade two and all I know is Dunrobin came off a main street and we had the only house on the left side coming from town. I could look down the road and there was just a big field between our house and the main street. I remember vividly the way the house looked. It was two story and had a front porch that was big enough for a kid my age to hide under. I had a way of getting in and spent some time when I wanted to be alone, just sitting under there and thinking about things. It was different in those days for kids. The house we lived in did not have running water and when my mother washed on the weekend it was my job to haul water from a well that you had to have a key to turn on the water. It was of a good size and the well was a good thousand feet from the house. Many people used that well and I thought I used it more than most. My mother had fashioned a pole that went across my back and had notches in it to place two pails for carrying water. I looked like a Chinese coolie as I went back and forth to get water. Saturday was washing day and I couldn't play outside or do anything until the water was hauled for a portable bath tub for bathing and enough water to do the laundry and the household chores. There were two big barrels placed next to the house with lids on them to keep out any foreign objects and I dumped the water there. It seemed to me that as I went by the place where the other kids were playing baseball that I would never get enough water hauled but I did and it took most of the morning. Since we didn't have inside plumbing there was an outhouse next to our house and once a week a wagon with a great huge barrel and a hole on the top with a lid came by. We called it the honey bucket and held our noses every time the honey man emptied the outhouse hole. He pulled it with horses and they knew exactly where to stop as they had done it enough times. He got the stuff out with a long pole with a fixed bucket with which he could lift out the contents. I watched this with great fascination. He did not make a mess as the back of the outhouse had a door he could lift up and latch while he emptied the contents.
It was summer and I was enjoying the beautiful days and it was a relief from the bitter cold Manitoba was known for. As I looked out the window of the living room about eight oclock at night I could see something moving in the field. I watched carefully and whatever it was was crawling along and stopped to rest. I called my mother and said: "There is some sort of animal crawling out there in the field." She came and looked and said: "It is some kind of animal alright; it is your father and he is drunk." I knew what that meant for I had seen it before. She went outside and walked toward him. When she got to him she got an arm around him and lifted him up and helped him along. His legs weren't working too good and he staggered some and I heard mom saying in colorful language: "You dumb ---------you're a mess and I am not in the mood for this." She got him inside and had me help to put him in bed with some difficulty because he was ranting about something and was not cooperating very much. She took his clothes and threw them into the laundry basket and said: "Phew!!! He must have spilled drink on them." I was wide eyed and wanting to get away from it all. Later on mom was telling us kids that Uncle Percy was coming on Saturday and he and dad and others would be having a sort of party. She reminded us that we should get to bed early. Well, I thought about it and decided to have some fun that night. I got hold of some friends and we moved the outhouse back about three feet when it started to turn dark. It was real difficult to move but we managed it. We then took some black tar paper I had found and covered over the pit. One of the guys had brought some grass clippings from home and we threw them around on the tar paper. Well, we waited a while but no one showed up to use the outhouse and, since it was getting late, the other kids went home. I knew my uncle Percy though and he always needed to use the outhouse, especially after having a few drinks. I was supposed to be in my room but was hiding by the house to see what would happen. I didn't have long too wait. There he came, walking outside and a little unsteady on his feet. There was a porch light on but it only gave a dim light of the outhouse area. At night we had all learned to take a flashlight. Uncle Percy didn't have one and so walked to the outhouse to open the door but of course he fell through the tar paper and into the outhouse pit. First he yelled and then the cursing that came out of that Pit could be heard half way down the street. My mother, my dad and some other friends came out to see what all the commotion was about. Someone asked: "How did you get in there?" Uncle Percy swore and said: "Someone moved the outhouse. Don't just stand there get me out of here."
Nobody wanted to touch him so they got a rake and had him grab on while they pulled him up.
As you can expect, he was covered with crap and everybody was laughing. They didn't mean to but they just could not help themselves. He was a mess and mom had him strip off his outer clothes and he stood there in his underwear while they all looked for something to carry water to throw on him. The barrel was full and it wasn't long that it was halfway empty as they splashed him with water. He was handed a bar of soap and a towel with some clean clothes put over an outside clothes line and everyone left to go inside the house while he changed. Meanwhile I was heading for the porch to hide out underneath. I had split a gut watching all of this and it was time to hide.
It wasn't long before I heard my mother yelling my name. "Where are you -you little bugger; when I get my hands on you -you won't be able to sit down for a week." She had found out I was not in my room and was looking for me. She knew I was hiding and so didn't worry about me being gone somewhere. I waited a while and then sneaked up the stairs to my room and went to bed. The next morning I was awakened with a start as Mom had hold of my arm and was dragging me out of bed. She was saying some uncomplimentary things as she whacked my back side. Finally when she was done she said: "Your Uncle Percy will have a few things to say to you when he sees you." She then told me I was grounded and said: "Wait until your dad gets home."
I could hear the conversation downstairs if I went out in the upstairs hall way and listened as there was a grate in the floor that allowed heat from down stairs to come up. I heard my mother discussing the whole siuation with some friends of hers. They were all laughing so much and finally one of them said: "How did you keep a straight face when you were spanking him?" My mother replied: "I was half mad and half hysterical. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. My God, uncle Percy was a sight to see and smelled like a sewer and all the time cussing and being totally ticked off. He looked like a drowned rat, not to mention the fact that he was totally humiliated. He is a proper gentleman, you know, which makes it even funnier. I wish I had had a camera to take a picture!" I sneaked back to my room and all I could think of were two things --
how Uncle Percy looked and sounded and how it was going to be when my dad got home.
That was the hard part. Mom whacked me good but Dad took his belt off and was strong enough to leave an impression. Still it was worth it. My friends who had helped me could hardly wait for me to get off restrictions so I could tell them all about it. Whenever we saw the honey bucket after that we couldn't help but start laughing.

1 comment:

  1. It seems like you were a little troublemaker! Funny story. I liked that your mom tried to not laugh as she spanked you for what you did.
    How often we as parents feel like we need to punish, but what actually happened is funny or crazy, too.