Outhouse Happenins

Outhouse Happenins

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ack in the late 30's and early 40's when my Dad was but a small tyke growing up in the hills north of Rector, Arkansas, he and his brother just a little older than him, Ralph, used to play in the woods.

Being excessively poor, they barely had food to suffice - but much less in the way of clothes, toys . . . well, you name it.  No running water, no electricity, very little food, few clothes, and even fewer niceties such as candy.

So we are not surprised as to the actions of a little boy who had just found a little package from the mailbox that smelled so sweet, so delicious, that he opened it, even though he knew he was in for a whupping when Ma found out.  It smelled like ultra-delicious candy - which was something that they did not get often.

So, when a product known as Ex-Lax was invented, it was sent out as small samples (about four doses worth for adults), to whole counties at a time.  Even as an adult and so many years later I remember it as smelling soooooo good and chocolaty.

But to Dad, who was still in the lower grades of school - and could barely read, it must have smelled like heaven!  And so he promptly opened the little package and consumned the whole thing right there at the mail box!

Now the house was set back off the road a few hundred feet and houses them days usually had a large front yard - most of the times bare earth.  The mail box was set by the road at the drive approach to the house.  So just getting to the house was quite a jaunt.  To a six or seven year old kid it must have seemed like a mile.

Usually the outhouse was set squarely in the back of the house and again, quite a ways back in an effort to prevent the lovely odors filtering from that little shack into the house.  Of course there were always flies, and the further a fly had to travel to get to the house, well, the fewer flies would actually make it to the house.

Still, there were flies.  In the house.  And they did spread a lot of disease.  So, for this reason the outhouse was set quite a ways from the house.  One never thought about the distance from the road to the house . . .  One seldom had the call of nature to force them to make a trip down the well worn path out back without a visit to the house first.  From the house it just wasn't much of a trip.

But on this day, it made a huge difference!  Dad had barely gotten all the gooy chocolate licked off his fingers when a huge gut wrenching growl from the deep of his gut alerted him that something was very amiss!

Huge, long, powerful cramps doubled him over and from the get-go, he knew he had to make a mad dash to the outhouse.  And right now!

He took off in a mad dash running as fast as he could whilst doubled over in pain like he'd never known!  But he knew almost as soon as he took off in the sprint that he was not going to be the winner of this race!!

Dad only had one pair of overalls to his name and a couple of badly worn shambered shirts.  To give you an idea, the picture to the right is of my dad at about the age of eight, pictured with his older brother Ralph, his mother Lucinda (Cochran) Cavaness and his father, Grover Cavaness.  For the times I guess they were pretty well dressed.

But in this incident, dad by this time was screaming in pain, running full out or at least as fast as he could under the circumstances, and now trying to get his galluses off his shoulders.

Back in them days they didn't have close neighbors so he was not worried about modesty at the moment.  But he was losing the battle all the way around!  And in a big way!  Everything he'd eaten in the three weeks felt like it was already bustin' loose in the overalls!  As the overalls slipped further down his legs he was completely immobilized until he got rid of em!

He hadn't even made it anyways near the house yet and now he was on his bare knees with a tell all trail of clothes and the remnants of the last three weeks meals scattered everywhere.  And he was still cramping and screaming and blowing!

What a mess!  Literally!!

Now remember folks, back in them post recession days they didn't have running water; no hose neatly coild up on a rack beside the house where you could simply open a valve and spray some offending item off without getting near it.  No Sir!  Back in them days you drew your water from a cistern or a creek.  And you had to carry it to the place of use a bucket at a time.

Through the rest of the week dad became a regular in the outhouse.  Even after several days he would still have bouts of explosive blowouts.  Just the original incident was enough to clean up, but the often and unpredictable events would happen again and again.

I don't know what they used back in the days as a solution to rectify those situations, but Pepto Bismal had not been invented yet.

But at least there was one positive to come out of the whole ordeal:  Dad never, ever, ever again ate something he didn't know what it was.  Sure a tough way to learn though!

George Cavaness

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