Saturday, January 23, 2010

The House Behind the House

My Hubby received this poem in the Prince Edward Island Newsletter which he receives weekly.  He said it brought back memories of when he was a little kid and used to go visit his grandma in St. Frances, a small town 'way up north in Maine, very close to the Canadian border.  Grandma's means were limited and she couldn't afford many of the conveniences we now take for granted.  Her home lacked indoor plumbing, and in the yard behind the humble dwelling resided the Outhouse. 

The House Behind The House:

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 Eaton's 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.

For those who never had to trot out in the Cold.....
Just Give Thanks!!!

Forwarded by George Schurman, author unknown.


The Vegetable Assassin said...

My boyfriend's dad told me about when he was a little kid he had to use an outhouse, and since he grew up in rural Saskatchewan it would be minus forty and he'd have to out out there to take care of business. Can you imagine letting your bum touch the air when it's minus 40? :) I'm so glad we have indoor plumbing these days.

5thsister said...

That was terribly funny! "must have been the pinto beans..." LOL!

Oh the luxuries we take for granted. My dad and my MIL both grew up in rural america where outhouses were such a fixture.

My name is PJ. said...

My mom's outhouse was a two-holer. Boy have things changed for her in her lifetime!

DJan said...

I remember using them in the past, but I don't remember where or when. I know we always had indoor plumbing and I still use them when hiking at the beginning of the trailheads. The only real problem to me is the smell. Great post!!!

JennyMac said...

ahhh...some modern conveniences can not be done without...LOL. I have heard stories from my parents about their visits to their grandparents with such "houses behind the house." I am not jealous for not experiencing this. Although, port o potties at concerts are worse.

The Lucy and Dick Show said...

I just remember that they were cold!

LadyFi said...

LOL! Swedish summer cottages still have outhouses - and some people use them when at their cabins even in freezing temperatures... That really makes you give thanks for indoor plumbing!

Elenka said...

When we bought our house in Maine it had a two holer outhouse actually connected to the house. It was not in use anymore, of course, but the seats were still there. brrrrrr.

Anshul said...

reminds me of my days in a village when i was a kid.. i used to go there for a month during my summer hols to spend time with my grandpa..

RennyBA's Terella said...

When it comes to grandma or grandpa's house, the standard does not matter; it's all about the cosy atmosphere :-)

Btw: Thanks for the visit and comment - glad I could take you down the 80s memory lane!

Steven Anthony said...

my grandma used to tell some whoppers about the house behind the house;)

The Retired One said...

haha Eva!
You didn't go "house tipping", did you?????

MissKris said...

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! It's always so lovely to have a new reader 'speak up'! I enjoyed my journey down your page. My mom lived in Kittery when she was a that anywhere near you? I visited Maine once and it's GORGEOUS!

Sandra said...

I loved it! I remember going to my grandmother's house when I was little. She had a well...but no outhouse! It was just the woods...oh, and the little pot she kept for the overnight hours!

Thanks for visiting my "groovy" blog! Come back anytime!

Eva Gallant said...

Veg: Me, too. Bare bum at -40 sounds dangerous!

5thSister: I cracked up when I read it, so I just had to share!

PJ: Yeah, now instead of a two-holer, we have two separate indoor bathrooms. We're spoiled!

DJan: I hate using them at parks. Eww!

JennyMac: I once went to an outdoor wedding where they had his and her portapotties and the Hers one was all painted Pink insid, had flowers, anti-bacterial lotion, and anything else you might find in a regular bathroom; and somehow they managed to make it no smell bad. That was the only time I found using a portapotty tolerable!

Eva Gallant said...

Lucy: I imagine it could get pretty chilly in one of those in the winter!

LadyFi: I agree--grateful for indoor plumbing!

Elenka: My parents house had an outhouse, but it wasn't in use anymore. We had indoor plumbing as far back as I can remember, but the house was over 200 years old.

Anshul: I'm glad they are just memories.

Renny: You're right. Unfortunately, both my Grandmas and grandpas either died before I was born, or when I was very young, so I have no memories of visiting them in their own homes.

Steven: I'll bet!

Retired: No, no tipping--but I did see a funny poem on line about tipping! lol

MissKris: Hope you stop by often!

Sandra: The Chamber Pot, I believe it was called. The alternative orginally to heading outside to the house behind the house!

Hope you will return, also!

TechnoBabe said...

I remember being about six and going to visit my mom's mom. This was a big deal trip, such a long way to travel that we stayed for a long time. There was an outhouse. They still used it. I was astounded that my mother grew up having to go out there. At the time we were visiting, grandma has a bathroom indoors but she raised eleven kids with only the outhouse. We have it so good. Great poem and good memories from your husband.

Candice said...

Giving thanks as we speak!

Tgoette said...

Awesome! I've never had to suffer the outhouse, but I have a greater appreciation now for those that did. I know my butt hates a cold seat in the morning as it is! Great post!

Cinnamon-Girl♥ said...

I got the chills just thinking about it! And what if you have to go in the middle of the night? SCARY!

Tam said...

Great poem! My favorite outhouse is at my friend's cabin - he built it facing down the mountain, without a door, so you can always enjoy the view. It's a little scary at night, though, when there's nothing between you and the potential critters that might come to visit!