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Etta and the Old Outhouse

Story ID:10665
Written by:Charles Dishno (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:In Memory
Location:Bly Oregon USA
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Etta and the Old Outhouse…
By Chuck Dishno

October, 1941
Halloween was fast approaching and even though storm clouds were gathering, we were a couple of months away from the start of World War ll. It was a great time to be alive in my hometown of Bly, Oregon.

I was 7 years old and was in the first grade. I lived with my Mom, Pop, Grandmother Etta, and my two half-brothers, Shad and Bud. We had been in our new house almost two months. It was built by the good people of Bly when our old one burned to the ground in mid-July.

What a house our new one was. It had a three bedrooms, kitchen, dining room, living room and for the first time in my life, a bathroom with toilet, tub with hot and cold running water. We were a little crowded with Mom and Pop taking one bedroom, Etta the middle one and my brother sharing the third. I could have slept with Etta but she had the bad habit of nightmares and would wake up with blood curdling screams several times a night. She would wake everyone up and apologize saying she dreamed that she was being chased by a man. Pop would then say, “For goodness sake, Etta, why don’t you let him catch you, then we can all get some sleep” to which she would reply, “Oh, Ed, you are so romantic but I think I would just as soon scream.”

My only other option was to sleep on a studio couch that was located against one wall of bedrooms and across from the dining room table. This was fine with me since that was also the room with the standing oil stove and I could stay warm and keep an eye on my brothers as they returned from their dates.

We were all happy to be in our new house, especially one with a inside toilet. Mom and Etta were raised in somewhat of an affluen home in Missoula, Montana but I don’t think my dear old Pop had ever lived in one that actually had a bathroom. He was skeptical and said he wouldn’t’ trust anything that gurgled every time you pulled the handle. Pop insisted that we keep the old outhouse, if for no other reason the water lines froze and we couldn’t use the modern convenience. Besides he said we often had company and the new outhouse was to have three holes of various sizes just right to fit any visitors.

Not to be argued with, Pop went right to work building a beautiful three-holer about 100 feet into the back yard connected by a nice gravel path. His other reason was to give the pranksters something to tip over on Halloween. Bly still had a lot of outhouses that were prime targets of Halloween. True to his prediction, it was tipped over and Pop laughingly set it right back up the next day.

A couple of weeks after Halloween, Bly had a large wet snowstorm. It was just right for kids of all age to build snowmen so my brothers and I decided to build a huge one next to the outhouse. It was a work of art.

Pop was a practical joker and he got all of us at one time or other, but Etta was his favorite. I guess it was because she reacted so much and never got mad. She would just say, “Ed, I am going to get you someday.”

Etta always went to bed about 7:30 in the evening. The last thing she would do before bed was to use our new bathroom. This particular night though Pop told her that the toilet was out of order and we had no water so she would have to use the outhouse for her final duty. He said he had cleaned the walk of snow and would leave the porch light on. This didn’t bother Etta too much so she put on her rubber boots, warm coat and headed out the back door. She had only gotten about half way to the outhouse when she let out one of her famous blood curdling screams. A few seconds later, Etta burst back into the house with her bathrobe flying behind her like a cape.

Apparently he had gone out earlier, hollowed out the head of the snowman, put in a large lit candle then replaced the hat. With perfect timing he told Etta about the bathroom problem and waited for her to make the walk down the path. About halfway down he shut off the porch light and waited for her reaction. When she looked up, she saw that huge glowing head and let out her scream. Pop then turned the light back on and watched her racing back to the house. Etta realized she had been the recipient of one of Pop’s jokes and just shook her head and laughed it off. Pop was laughing his head off for pulling a good one, with Mom’’ approval, on his mother-in-law.

A few minutes later all was forgiven and Pop let her use the indoor bathroom. While she was in there she said she was thinking of ways to get back at Pop.

Etta died in 1957 and my Pop in 1959. I am sure that when Pop went through those Pearly Gates into Heaven he kept an eyed pealed for Etta peaking over some Heavenly Cloud, just waiting to catch him off guard with a Heavenly Practical Joke.

Note: I have written many stories about my Pop and Etta. Here are a couple that are posted on OurEcho concerning Pop’s jokes and Etta’s revenge…
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