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he glow could be seen for miles.  We thought it might be the High School since it was nearly on the road which we were traveling.

By the way, yeah . . . I did change the title of this article . . . Corcoran Outhouse Thieves really didn't describe us in the fullest sense of the story . . .    We were actually doing the town of Corcoran a favor . . . like, we were the self-appointed clean-up crew . . . or, how about this:    Outhouse Harvesters . . . ?   See?!?!  We really were doing good!  (grin) . . .

Now, back to my story:

One evening about 10:00 o'clock pm, I was riding with my family coming in from the coast.  On our outing we usually left early in the morning, drove to the coast, messed around a little bit, (most of the time never even getting out of the car except for restroom breaks), and would return in the evening.  Since we lived in Corcoran, CA., it was quite a drive.

This particular time, coming in on Dairy Ave we come upon an unexpected sight.  There were cars everywhere, and there was a huge fire in the area that would eventually become the new football stadium.  But there were no fire trucks!  That was wierd!  Why would there be a whole lot of cars and no fire trucks?

And, it was quite a fire!  Burning was a huge pile of wood all thrown together with no sort of order.  But, the most amazing thing was, an outhouse sitting upright, on top, right in the middle!  It would be three years befoe I would find out the meaning of the whole thing . . .

It was called The Bonfire!  Better than Burning Man!

The size of the Bonfire was astounding.  How did those kids ever get that wood piled up there so high?  Then, one can only imagine the amount of effort it takes to get an outhouse on top of a pile of wood that high, then, keep it sitting in an upright position!

I was 12 or 13 years old at that time, but it is burned into my memory and I can see it as clearly as if it happened yesterday.  And, it is but the first of many memories of bonfires, High School and FFA . . .

My freshman year in High School, I joined what all the other cool dudes were joining.  FFA.  There are a lot of acronyms these letters could represent, but, the official name was Future Farmers of America.  Since I was raised on a farm in the Northeastern part of Arkansas, I had a little different idea of farms than did those ding-a-lings in that little California town.  Most of these kids had never even seen a farm, much less worked on one.

The Future Farmers of America patch.

Back to my story.  One of the benefits of being in the FFA were the field trips.  We did see a lot of things.  And we got to stay out all night sometimes irrigating the FFA alfalfa field.  We got to go out to the school farm and raise pigs, and muck out stalls, and do all kinds of things.  We learned how to weld, and cut, and the general use of tools.

But the most important function of FFA (or to our chapter at least), I learned, was the gathering of the wood for the Homecoming Bonfire.  In the place where I first saw it now stands a beautiful football stadium.  After it was built, the fire was moved across Dairy Ave.  I think that stadium was built in '67 or '68.  

We had a crew of the best Outhouse Stealers in the whole school.  Bill Keith, driving one of his dad's trucks, was the pilot.  There was Harold Hunsucker, Duane McBee, Eugen Ely, and me.  (I ain't telling my name!).  The two guys on the back were outhouse spotters.  Eugene could spot an outhouse through a brick wall!  He was that good! We would cruise down through the alleys out around Orange Ave.  Over in that vicinity, we did a lot of good getting rid of outhouses.  We were doing the city a favor! (It sounded good at the time...).

It's a two holer!

Bill would throw his truck into reverse, and at the coaxing of 4 voices telling him all different directions to go, would finally get the truck close to the victim.  By the time he had it within 3 feet of the intended building, Eugene, being the bulldozer of the group, would have rocked it loose.  With 3 guys on the ground, and two in the back of the truck, we would have the outhouse on the truck and gone within 2 minutes.  We wouldn't even take the time to tie it down.  Bill usually drove like a crazed man trying to get out of there before we were caught, or the owner could get out there and stop us.

And, of course, we always went the full length of Main Street.  We would wave and hollar at every person on Main St that we had a "one holer, or a two holer!"  Those two hole jobs were quite a chore, even for 5 guys!

We would then proudly turn into the area for the bonfire, and unload our prize.  And it couldn't be just dumped!  NO SIR!  We had to put it on the TOP of the pile.  Where in the world all that lumber came from, I'll never know, and it made it even harder to hoist our house to the top.  But, put it up there we did!

The only problem was, every year, there was always someone offended by the idea of our cleanup, and they usually got the police out there, and claimed their outhouse.  The chief of police at that time was Chief Ely.  Yep!  You guessed it!  Eugene's daddy!  He never did give us any problems, but, when we saw him around the pile of wood, we detoured until he was gone, then, we would happily go about our job of providing the biggest ever bonfire for our school!

I can still imagine some poor old guy running out the back door toward the outhouse cuz the girls had the bathroom inside captured for the next five hours and the only thing left of the little building out back was a gaping hole.  I shore am sorry 'bout your outhouse!

My last year of High School, we had trouble finding enough outhouses to steal, and were reduced to gathering wood laying around in peoples' back yards.  Not nealy so glamorus as the good ol' days of stealing outhouses.

Ah, yesteryear.  Sometimes I would like to live some of those days over, but, then again after more careful thought, maybe not!  There ain't hardly no more outhouses!

By the way, the ending paragraph above is Correct Hillbilly Grammer . . .  (Sorry Mr Walker.  I still have to talk like that ever onest in a while!).

George Cavaness
10-09-1994



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