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Postcard from the Past - The House Behind the House

Written by Natasha Wheeler

One of my fondest memories

As I recall the days of yore

Was the little house behind the house,

With the crescent o’er the door.

‘Twas a place to sit and ponder

With your head all bowed down low;

Knowing that you wouldn’t be there,

If you didn’t have to go.

Ours was a multi-holer, three,

With a size for every one.

You left there feeling better,

After your job was done.

You had to make those frequent trips

In snow, rain, sleet or fog

To that little house where you usually

Found the Sears catalog.

Oft times in dead of winter,

The seat was spread with snow.

Twas then with much reluctance

To that little house you’d go.

 With a swish you’d clear that wooden seat,

Bend low, with dreadful fear

You’d shut your eyes and grit your teeth

As you settled on your rear.

I recall the day Ol’ Granddad,

Who stayed with us one summer,

Made a trip out to that little house

Which proved to be a bummer.

‘Twas the same day that my Dad had

Finished painting the kitchen green.

He’d just cleaned up the mess he’d made

With rags and gasoline.

He tossed the rags down in the hole

Went on his usual way

Not knowing that by doing so

He’d eventually rue the day.

Now Granddad had an urgent call,

I never will forget!

This trip he made to the little house

Stays  in my memory yet.

He sat down on the wooden seat,

With both feet on the floor.

He filled his pipe and tapped it down

And struck a match on the outhouse door.

He lit the pipe and sure enough,

It soon began to glow.

He slowly raised his rear a bit

And tossed the flaming match below.

The Blast that followed, I am told

Was heard for miles around;

And there was poor ol’ Granddad

Sprawled out there on the ground.

The smoldering pipe still in his mouth,

His eyes were shut real tight;

The celebrated three-holer

Was blown clear out of sight.

We asked him what had happened,

What he said I’ll  ne’er forget.

He said he thought it must have been

The pinto beans he et!

Next day we had a new one

Dad put it up with ease.

But this one had a door sign
That read: No Smoking, Please.

Now that’s the story’s end my friend,

Of  memories long ago,

When we went to the house behind the house,

Because we had to go.

  – Author unknown.

Penned on last scrap of paper remaining in an outhouse. For those who never had to trot out in the cold at the crack of dawn to use the outhouse, just give thanks!

The two-story outhouse shown here was the model used to construct a similar “Chic-Sale” at the Encampment Museum, but, then that’s another story to read while doing your duty. Why the two-story outhouse was called a “Chic-Sale” is still being debated.