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I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Remembrances of Gifft Hill - The Privy

We had to make/build it, when we moved up to Gifft Hill. I couldn't tell you how far away from the Castle the privy was, anywhere from 50 to 100 feet, but at certain times it was at least a mile.

Our privy was clean and didn't have too bad an odor because we kept a bag of lime in it and every time one of us did a #2 we were supposed to take the scoop and sprinkle a little lime down the hole. It also smelled of Pinesol liquid disinfectant because that's what we scrubbed it down with every Saturday. That was one of Erva's and my jobs; getting a bucket, syphoning water out of the cistern, putting in the Pinesol (which turned the water this sort of milky opal color) getting the scrub brushes, toting it all out to the privy and scrubbing it down. Everything was scrubbed, floors, walls, door, seat area and then, if there was any Pinesol water left over, throwing it down the hole.

We kept a Sears catalog book out there to read (we did have toilet paper. We may have been primitive but not that primitive.) And there might be one of Dad's QST's (a ham radio magazine) or a McCall's or a comic book.

If you were quiet you could hear movement down there, the slurpy, squishy sound of maggots doing their business.

Erva and I sometimes went out there together. While we waited for each other we sometimes played a clapping game, clapping out the syllable beats of a song. The object was for the one listening to figure out which song the other was clapping out.

Next to the privy there were the remains of what I think was a chicken coop. It was all falling down. Chicken wire and rotting wood were being devoured by wild tropical plants and weeds. Right on the path, right next to the chicken coop was a large acacia tree of the legume family. They grow rather slowly and when they get very old they can be quite magnificent. But they have these thorns that can grow to like two inches long and can pierce your foot right through your flip-flops or the rubber soles of you sneakers. In the islands they are called casha trees.

During the day the casha didn't cause me one bit trouble. It was very well behaved and I rather liked how it hung over the path and chicken coop. Their limbs and small leaves can cast a feathery and lacy kind of shade that is quite pretty.

But at night that casha was something else entirely. I had a deep dread of going out to the privy at night because I knew that casha tree changed personality at sundown and turned into a thorny clawing monster that was waiting to snatch me up and throw me in the chicken coop, which had turned into a kind of doorway into another world and once thrown in there I knew wouldn't be able to find my way back.

I was pretty much terrified of the casha tree at night, and it knew it.

If I had to pee at night I'd step outside our bedroom and squat. If I absolutely had to do #2, I'd wake up Erva and she'd light a lantern and take me out there. She must have had some kind of invisible magic shield that protected us both from the thorny arms of the casha because it never did snatch us up and throw us into the chicken coop.

I wish I had a picture of the privy. A lot of things went on there.


  1. Wow, I'm really appreciating all my modern conveniences right now...but that is an interesting story!

  2. Great story! What an experience to live there, Bish. :)

  3. Ah, yes. We each had a "favorite night spot" in that seven acres of yard! I think that the casha tree knew that I was too old to be scared by it. It was also in the remains of that chicken coop, on one of our Saturday return trips to "the Castle," that we found the first lizard egg that hatched in my hand. Will never forget that experience, either!

    Of course, the privy featured a "Church Seat," always touted as "the best seat in the house!"

  4. Oh. My. Does this bring back memories when we went to my grandmother's farm for the summer.

    I had forgotten about the creepy feelings at night. I, too, have an older sister who walked with me, guarded me.

  5. Wow - who needs a picture, Bish? What an awesome description!

  6. Adrienne, I appreciate "modern conveniences" too. After years of cold water baths/showers one of my simplest pleasures is taking under very hot showers.

    It was an experience Rena, a much loved one.

    Erva, Having a lizard egg hatch in your hand not once, but twice in your life time, is just not FAIR!

    Vijaya, I'm glad I'm not the only who's had the wonderful experience of an outhouse and an older sister for protection too!

    Thanks Robin. My husband said (laughinly) "That's more than I needed to know!"

  7. Wow, this brings back memories. I used to spend part of my summer at my Papaw's farm. He had running water in the kitchen, but all other water was drawn from a well. The outhouse was, well, legendary for its smell. I used to hold my breath, run, and try to do business as fast as possible!

    I loved those summers!

  8. Yep. I'm telling you, I LOVE my toilet! =D

    Um . . . gross (but very good description).

    I'm sure there's a children's book in the whole casha tree and chicken coop at night thing. =D

  9. Oh my... I have no problem with the great outdoors...but the maggots got to me.... I thought there were swamp fish down there (even monsters would be better than maggots) Oh why did you have to tell me?

  10. Nora, I'm glad there are a few of us around who have had the outhouse experience. Even the school my sister and I went had an outhouse but that is an experience I will NOT go into!

    You're right Joan, the probably is a good story in the casha tree and chicken coop.

    Angela, don't you know (CLEAN) maggots can be and are very beneficial? They can be used to clean infected wounds as they only eat dead flesh. Ooops...more info than you wanted right? :)

  11. My grandparents had an outhouse and Sis and I wouldn't go near it without each other...It sat right under a big pole light and we always thought the bats were chasing us to and from...We only had to walk about 75 yards but it felt like a long walk after dark...grin...


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