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Monday, November 14, 2011

On the subject of Outhouses

With the advent of the winter's first snow, I'm discovering a renewed appreciation for indoor plumbing. I thought I'd take a short rabbit trail round back to the outhouse, where we'll find interesting details those with a more innocent upbringing than I may be unaware of. I'll amaze you with previously unknown facts about:

a new definition of luxury
flora and fauna

what O.J. thinks of indoor plumbing
sound effects
how you can tell the difference between really cold and BLOODY cold without a thermometer
and much more!

but first, a poem from the Yukon's beloved bard, Robert Service

The Three Bares
Robert W. Service

Ma tried to wash her garden slacks but couldn't get 'em clean
And so she thought she'd soak 'em in a bucket o' benzine.
It worked all right. She wrung 'em out then wondered what she'd do
With all that bucket load of high explosive residue.
She knew that it was dangerous to scatter it around,
For Grandpa liked to throw his lighted matches on the ground.
Somehow she didn't dare to pour it down the kitchen sink,
And what the heck to do with it, poor Ma jest couldn't think.

Then Nature seemed to give the clue, as down the garden lot
She spied the edifice that graced a solitary spot,
Their Palace of Necessity, the family joy and pride,
Enshrined in morning-glory vine, with graded seats inside;
Jest like that cabin Goldylocks found occupied by three,
But in this case B-E-A-R was spelt B-A-R-E----
A tiny seat for Baby Bare, a medium for Ma,
A full-sized section sacred to the Bare of Grandpapa.

Well, Ma was mighty glad to get that worry off her mind,
And hefting up the bucket so combustibly inclined,
She hurried down the garden to that refuge so discreet,
And dumped the liquid menace safely through the centre seat.
Next morning old Grandpa arose; he made a hearty meal,
And sniffed the air and said: `By Gosh! how full of beans I feel.
Darned if I ain't as fresh as paint; my joy will be complete
With jest a quiet session on the usual morning seat;

To smoke me pipe an' meditate, an' maybe write a pome,
For that's the time when bits o' rhyme gits jiggin' in me dome.'
He sat down on that special seat slicked shiny by his age,
And looking like Walt Whitman, jest a silver-whiskered sage,
He filled his corn-cob to the brim and tapped it snugly down,
And chuckled: `Of a perfect day I reckon this the crown.'
He lit the weed, it soothed his need, it was so soft and sweet:
And then he dropped the lighted match clean through the middle seat.

His little grand-child Rosyleen cried from the kichen door:
Oh, Ma, come quick; there's sompin wrong; I heared a dreffel roar;
Oh, Ma, I see a sheet of flame; it's rising high and higher...
Oh, Mummy dear, I sadly fear our comfort-cot's caught fire.'
Poor Ma was thrilled with horror at them words o' Rosyleen.
She thought of Grandpa's matches and that bucket of benzine;
So down the garden geared on high, she ran with all her power,
For regular was Grandpa, and she knew it was his hour.

Then graspin' gaspin' Rosyleen she peered into the fire,
A roarin' soarin' furnace now, perchance old Grandpa's pyre....
But as them twain expressed their pain they heard a hearty cheer----
Behold the old rapscallion squattinn' in the duck pond near,
His silver whiskers singed away, a gosh-almighty wreck,
W i' half a yard o' toilet seat entwined about his neck....
He cried: `Say, folks, oh, did ye hear the big blow-out I made?

It scared me nearly half to death. I hope you w'unt too afraid.
But now I best be crawlin' out o' this dog-gasted wet....
For what I aim to figger out is----


Cicero Sings said...

Ha, hs, ha! I'm so thankful for indoor plumbing and septics that work -- yessiree -- very thankful.

gfid said...

Cicero - yes indeed... there is such a thing as too much fresh air.

clairesgarden said...

thats funny..

susan said...

Not that I remembered all of it but I do remember having had to recite the entirety of 'The Cremation of Sam McGee' when I was in grammar school. He was very popular when I was a kid and all of his verses flow in such a way they're quite easy to memorize.

I do not know how long in the snow I wrestled with grisly fear;
But the stars came out and they danced about Ere again I ventured near;
I was sick with dread, but I bravely said: "I'll just take a peep inside.
I guess he's cooked, and it's time I looked";
. . . Then the door I opened wide. And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm,
In the heart of the furnace roar; And he wore a smile you could see a mile,
And he said: "Please close that door.
It's fine in here, but I greatly fear You'll let in the cold and storm --
Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee,
It's the first time I've been warm."

When we first moved to Canada our little house didn't quite have an outhouse but what it did have was something called 'a pail a day'. A proper bathroom was part of the extension made in 1958 when I was 12 and it was indeed a luxury.

Thanks for reminding me :-)

gfid said...

Claire - when i lived in the Yukon, i read a lot of Robert Service's poems. He's best known for things like "Cremation of Sam McGee' and 'Spell of the Yukon', but he wrote a fair amount of stuff just for fun.

Susan - you've done well to remember so much of Sam McGee for so long! When i lived in Dawson City in the late 70's there was still a truck that went around every day to collect those 'pail a days', and a few places in town that still had outhouses.

linda said...

i read this last night and laughed my head off in the brilliantly written by you too...i was thinking it must have been tedious and you could not have it all memorized, could you? well between you and susan. :) anyway what a great tale! loved it much, thanks for the laughter. ♥

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Hi Granny Fiddler
An interesting expose on outhouses - what I experienced as a youngster growing up in the country – you have entertained us once again with the bear facts!! I also used to sit on my aunt’s bed and listen with bated breath to the jungle stories by Kipling so I can relate well to your previous post.

gfid said...

Linda 8-)
it's a great poem, isn't it? you're welcome; laughter is always better when shared.

Lindsay - there's more to come on outhouses, when i get some time to write.... i was in university when my oldest kids were young, one of my courses was english lit, with a very generous portion on kiddie lit, so they were immersed in the classics, like it or not... they loved kipling - especially his 'just so stories'. Did you know about the Jack Nicholson and Bobbie McFerrin recording of the Just So Stories? they're fabulous. Nicholson does the narrating and McFerrin does music and sound effects.

Ron said...

That photo of the snow sculpture is beyond BRILLIANT!

It's faaaaaaaaabulous!!!!!

Loved the poem too! Hilarious!

Yes, thank god the invention of indoor plumbing!

Have a great week, dear lady!

And thanks for the chuckles!


gfid said...

Ron - ah, but wait.... glad you enjoyed the appetizer, but the main course is yet to come..... metaphorically speaking..... or maybe it's more of a simile.

linda said...

ok, now i am finally here, as i said over at susan's, 'getting out a bit' and there's a tease up top and that's all...granted i didn't click and hopefully will find something on the other side of said clicking but have a feeling it's going to turn up empty w/o you...i read where you've been keeping yourself in the evenings and think that's wonderful, i am happy for both you and your dad that you are able to share these years together. i hadn't seen mine in a decade when he died and my mother and i rarely speak. ok, off to check if there's anything behind door #1!!! cheers and keep warm...i think of both you and susan whenever we have a california winter's day or i look at the weather channel tho they do not often show way up where you are.

it's supposed to rain tomorrow and it's been frosty and cold much of the day for a week now here. not that i expect your sympathy!!!!!xoxoxoxo