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Memory Monday-Smoking in the Outhouse

Memory Monday-Smoking in the Outhouse

Memory Monday-It’s a thing…

I think I’ve mentioned I used to use an outhouse when I was a little girl. We had running water in our house, but no bathroom. Grandpa and his friends remodeled the house in the early 1980s and added a bathroom. Until the remodel, we used an outhouse near the edge of the back yard. In case you don’t know what an outhouse is: it’s a permanent Port-a-Potty built over a deep hole in the ground where you do your business. Ours had a tall seat for the adults and a smaller, lower seat for the kids. We had a detached building we called the “pump house” where we took showers. The pump house got the name because it’s where our water pump is.

Going to the bathroom at night could be an adventure. Plus, I don’t even want to talk about the spiders! While I remember using the outhouse, other members of my family have better memories of the outhouse. Here’s a story told to me by my Aunt Sue:

“We used to go out to the outhouse and smoke. We thought we were hiding, but the smoke would roll out of the cracks between the boards. Grandma gave me a coffee can full of water one day when some of the other kids were in there smoking. I don’t even remember who was in there, but she gave me the can of water and told me to go throw it on the outhouse. She told me to pretend like I thought it was on fire. I did and as soon as I threw the can of water on the outhouse, I ran back to Grandma so they wouldn’t whip me. I knew Grandma would save me.”

I asked Sue if she knew the smoke came out of the cracks why she went out there to smoke when she was older. She laughed and said, “Well, I don’t know. We just did.”

I talked a little about not being able to tell if a memory is a true memory or built on hearing a story over and over in Kurt’s Motorcycle.  This is another great example. I remember hearing this story as a kid, but always thought it was my mother who threw the water on the outbuilding. I would have written this as my mother tossing the water on the outhouse if I hadn’t talked to Aunt Sue. Still, I enjoy hearing stories about my great grandparents since I never knew them. The “grandma” Aunt Sue was referring to would be my great-grandmother Nora Adkins.


Memory Monday–Hunting

Maybe I’m a hound dog after all.

Hunting is a big thing where I live. Growing up, my grandfather, uncles, and the male cousins would go hunting in the fall. Mainly, I remember them hunting squirrel, rabbit, turkey, and deer. They would get up early and pull on their gear and spend hours at night cleaning their guns. It was like a secret club that I wasn’t allowed to be a part of and that did not sit well with me.

I begged Grandpa to take me hunting. He would make up excuses, but I kept begging. Finally, my day arrived and I felt like I had just cracked the secret code to the universe when he agreed to take me hunting. He explained since it was my first time hunting, we’d have to do things a different way and that made sense to me at the time.

The next day, he told me it was time for us to go hunting. He said he would carry the gun until we found something, all I had to do was point it out and he would shoot it. We didn’t put on camouflage or orange vests, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to go hunting with my grandpa without the boys.

We walked through the pasture field and started up the path on the side of the hill. I knew the path well and used it frequently. The path lead up the hill to our family cemetery, but about half-way another path branched off that lead up the hollow to my great-aunt’s house. From late fall through early spring, you could still see my house and the dirt road that ran between the two houses.  The two house were roughly 100 yards apart.

As we walked along the path, Grandpa told me that since we didn’t have a hunting dog, I would have to bark if I saw a squirrel or a rabbit. I’m not sure Grandpa saw them, but I must have seen a squirrel or rabbit every ten steps so I would let out a “bark” to alert him to ready the gun. Each time, he would point the gun in the direction I indicated and say, “Musta got away.”

We finally came to the part of the path that started down the hill at my great-aunt’s house. We went down the hill and passed through the barbed-wire fence to get on the dirt road to go home. Our hunting trip was a bust.

My mom was leaving my great-aunt’s house and joined us for the walk home.

“Mom, Grandpa took me hunting! We almost got a squirrel and a rabbit, but they got away.”

“Who was making all that noise?” she asked.

“Me! I was the best hunting dog ever! Right, Grandpa?”

He couldn’t answer for laughing.

I still “ain’t never caught a rabbit.”

Memory Monday-Gorilla

Memory Monday—It’s a thing.

My grandfather was a bit of a prankster. He used to imply or tell me I was some sort of animal (Hound Dog and Groundhog’s Day). I even asked him to get me a monkey if he couldn’t find me a cat. Now, I guess I should tell you about the gorilla that lived upstairs in our house.

Pre-1981, the house was a fairly small log house. There was a living room, a bedroom, and a kitchen on the ground floor and two bedrooms of unequal size upstairs over the living room. My grandfather slept upstairs in the smaller of the two rooms and my grandmother and I slept downstairs.

The house was old and popped and creaked like old houses are want to do. I grew up thinking the pops and creaks belong to some unseen thing that stayed upstairs. My grandfather didn’t want me to go upstairs to his room so one day when I asked about a mysterious thump I heard upstairs, he explained that a gorilla lived upstairs. He cautioned me to never go up there because the gorilla would be mad and eat me.

This may come as a shock to some of you, but did you know that as soon as you tell a kid NOT to do something, that is the very thing the kid does? Yep, true story. After being told not to go upstairs, that was quite simply the only place I wanted to go. I waited for what must have been weeks before I braved opening the stairway door and slipping up the brown steps.

I got to the top of the stairs that opened up into the larger bedroom that once belonged to my cousin before she graduated high school and moved away. I felt very confident and proud of myself for proving there was no gorilla living in my house. I tiptoed across the larger room toward my grandfather’s room. The two were separated by a curtain hanging over the doorway. I pushed it aside and stepped into my grandfather’s room. I looked around the room and there it was, the gorilla.

The gorilla was hunched down in the darkest corner of the room. Black fur glinted in what little sunlight fell through the single window in the room. His eyes were black like bottomless pits, shining directly at me. In that instant I knew I was about to be eaten alive by a gorilla. I did the only thing I could do…I ran.

I didn’t tell my mom or grandmother about my close call with the gorilla for weeks. Finally, my grandmother told me to go upstairs to get something and I fell to pieces. I told her about sneaking up the stairs and coming face to face with the little girl eating monster grandpa kept up there.

She took me by the hand and pulled me up the stairs. I wanted to protest the entire way, but once Granny said do something, you did it. I just knew it was going to be the end of us both. She walked straight into grandpa’s room and over to the dark gorilla corner where she picked up a black faux fur coat with shiny black buttons.

To this day, I still don’t like going upstairs in that house.

Memory Monday-Monkey

Memory Monday–it’s a thing…

Yes, I took a little break from Memory Monday.  Not because I ran out of memories, but because I ran out of time to write them.  Plus writing about some of them and thinking about other memories I could share was a lot to deal with emotionally.  Who knew?

Growing up country, you can get a slightly different view of animals, both pets and non-pets.  Today, I find myself using words like “furever” friend and having anxiety attacks because people leave their dogs OUTSIDE!  Years ago, my attitude was much different.

First, I was raised on a farm.  Not a big farm by any means, but a farm none the less and there were animals that were useful and a source of food.  We raised cattle and pigs for the meat.  My parents and grandparents have shared stories about milking cows so at one point they kept them for the milk too, but I always remember my milk coming from the grocery store.  We kept chickens for the eggs and occasionally the meat if we had too many.  We had a garden too so we weren’t always raising animals to kill for food; we killed some corn, potatoes, lettuce, cabbage, carrots, and stuff too.

Being in the country, there were plenty of people who hunted, my family included, so it wasn’t uncommon to have chopped up bits of rabbit, squirrel, deer, etc. in the freezer.  There are some pictures of my father and I posing with his dead deer.  There were also animals that posed possible threats to the livestock and the people living out there.  We weren’t far from a state park and things like bears, wolves, coyotes, and mountain lions didn’t seem to notice the boundaries of the state park.  It was generally accepted if you see something like a wolf or a mountain lion near your house, you should shoot it.  The deer also endangered the garden so they were often considered fair game.  Yes, we did employ things like pie pans hanging off a string to scare the critters away from the garden, but it didn’t always work.

Then there were pets.  I had a dog growing up and had him for 14 years.  He lived outside all year round, taking shelter under trees, under buildings, between buildings, and a barn stall.  I honestly don’t think he would have came in the house and stayed even if carried him inside.  He ate table scraps and whatever the cheapest possible dog food was.  He drank water out of the creek, branch, or cow’s watering trough.  I don’t think he ever went to a vet.  He and I would play for hours upon hours outside.  He went on hikes into the hills with me, ran along side my bike, and wouldn’t let me out of the yard without my mom or grandmother around.  I can’t say I’d ever raise another dog the way we raised him, but he seemed genuinely happy.

Cats were another common pet.  They too stayed outside, getting fairly the same treatment as our dog.  The unfortunate issue with the cats was their ability to find the main roadway.  This often lead to cats being ran over by passing cars.  Sadly, we had a pretty long line of cats throughout the years.  One cat in particular stands out in my mind…Susan.  She was a calico cat and she was my favorite.  Then it happened…she got ran over after she went into the road.  The other seemingly cruel part of country life is that things aren’t typically sugar coated, even for the kids.  My grandfather sat me down and explained he had found Susan in the road and had buried her.  I was maybe 5 or 6 years old at that point, so I cried for a while.  I remember the short conversations going something like this:

Grandpa:  Stop crying.  I’ll get you another cat this week.  So stop crying and go play.

Me.  Ok.  But, Grandpa, if you can’t find another cat, just get me a monkey, Ok?

Grandpa (laughing):  Sure, if I can’t find a cat ’round here, I’ll just pick you up a monkey.

I’m not sure what made me think a monkey would be a little easier to find in southwest West Virginia, but apparently I thought they were easier to find than a cat.


Memory Monday-Groundhogs Day

Memory Monday–It’s a thing…

Last week, I told you about my grandfather insinuating I was a hound dog by singing Elvis tunes to me.  I promised a story about groundhogs for this week’s post, so here we go…

I was born on February 7th and just a mere five days before my birthday is a faux holiday called Groundhogs Day.  Presumably, on groundhogs day, a groundhog will pop up out of the ground.  If the groundhog sees his/her shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter.  It the critter doesn’t see a shadow, spring is on the way.  Apparently, this holiday is a big deal in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.  The holiday has nothing to do with the Bill Murray movie where his character lives the same day over and over…which now that I think about it, I don’t think I’ve ever watched the movie.

Grandpa being Grandpa used to tell me that if I had been born five days earlier, I would have been a groundhog instead of a little girl.  Every single time he said it I would have an emotional melt down and cry for hours.  I would wail, “But I don’t want to be a groundhog!” which only encouraged him to continue reaffirming the fact that I narrowly escaped my groundhog fate by a measly five days.

The fact that I was born five days later and that I absolutely was a little girl didn’t seem to matter to me.  The suggestion that I could have been a groundhog was enough to send me into hysterics.  It didn’t matter to me at the time that my birth date couldn’t and wouldn’t be changed and neither could my species.

I’ve tried to think of other animals Grandpa either told me I was or could have been, but those are the only two I could come up with so far.  Even now, I’m not sure why I had such an overwhelming emotional response to those things.  However, I did think of a few more animal stories related to my adventures with Grandpa so unless a more vivid memory strikes me in the coming weeks, we’ll continue down memory lane with animal stories.

Thanks for reading!


A girl (well, woman now), NOT a hound dog or groundhog.

Memory Monday–Hound Dog

Memory Monday–It’s a thing…

I stayed with my grandparents when I was young.  Not because of any nefarious reason, but that’s just the way things worked out.

My grandfather had this old green car and all I could really remember was that it was green and big.  I hit my older cousins up on Facebook to ask about the car and we’re fairly sure it was a Plymouth Gran Fury from somewhere between 1968-1974.  I think it was a four door, but not sure if I’m remembering it that way because I sometimes rode in the back seat or if it really was a four door car.  There were a couple small country stores about two or three miles from our house.  Both sold your basics:  bread, milk, cheese, sandwich meats, toilet paper, candy, and some other random can foods.  The biggest difference was one sold beer and one didn’t.

Grandpa would take me to the store for candy pretty much any time I asked.  What I didn’t realize at the time is that he was taking me to the store mainly so he could go get beer.  I didn’t have a limit on these trips and would always come home with a small bag of candy.  This happened a few times a week.  Most trips were smooth sailing and without incident; however, my grandpa was a bit of a teaser.  He would say or do things to kind of get me riled up and if he could succeed in making me cry, well, that was just a hoot for him.  While an adult making a child cry might seem demented, cruel, and reason for CPS to come knocking on the door, he didn’t stop there.  Once he had me wailing and crying, usually in the back floor board so I could pound my fury and rage out on the vinyl back seat bottom, he would sing to me.  Sing along if you recognize the tune:

You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog
Cryin’ all the time
You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog
Cryin’ all the time
Well, you ain’t never caught a rabbit and you ain’t no friend of mine

This song would send me into absolute uncontrollable snot slinging squalling fits.  Why?  Because I was a little GIRL not a HOUND DOG, I had not actually caught a rabbit and somehow felt as if I should have caught one, and I WAS my grandpa’s friend.  But mainly, I didn’t like that his song was suggesting I was a hound dog…which he thought was hysterically funny.

I. Am. Not. A. Hound. Dog.

Speaking of little girls that aren’t hound dogs, check back in next Monday for the one about groundhogs.

Memory Monday-Lock me in

Memory Monday–It’s a thing like Throwback Thursday.

As a kid, I liked to stay up late. What kid doesn’t? The concept of a forced time to go to bed always sends kids into rebellion mode. When I was 8 years old and younger, Granny would announce it was bed time and I would make a beeline to my Grandpa.

Grandpa was normally laying on the couch watching TV. I would run to him squealing and screaming for him to “lock me in.” This magical bed-time fighting lock he possessed was his arms. I would sit near him and he would put his arms around me with his fingers laced together (forming the “lock”). He would laugh and join me in telling Granny I couldn’t go to bed because I was locked in.

Granny must have had the key, I was always in bed a few minutes later.

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