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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Rural Sports


Seated: Grandma and Grandpa Berg and 'She Who Holds the Horses'
Surrounding them: The Instigators

Halloween.
Ghosts and goblins.
Witches, black cats and scary pumpkins.
Pirates, vampires and mummies.
An evening of treats, tricks and mischief.
For many, many years.
My Mom often talked of mischief perpetrated by her and her eight (yes, eight) brothers.
They were in a rural community, with all of the families around them involved in some sort of agriculture, so the opportunities for tricks were almost as endless as the imaginations that enacted them.
Pigs in the hen house.
Harnesses on the cows.
Wagons hauled to the roofs of the barns.
Tires and assorted junk piled in the roadways.
But the favourite, the real king of the pranks was outhouse tipping.
Though indoor plumbing was quite common in the cities and larger communities in the mid-1930s, on the farms and ranches surrounding Millicent, Alberta, most families still made use of the outdoor privy.
Cold in the winter, hot in the summer, but necessary the whole year through, the outhouse was an accepted and integral part of family life.
And very few of them were fastened down.
All it took was a concerted effort by two or more strong lads and . . . over it would go.
Followed by much laughter and hilarity as the perpetrators fled.
To the next farm.
Where their adventure would start all over.
Mom held the horses. Or so she contends.
But I digress . . .
One Halloween, she and her eight brothers were making the rounds.
One farm, in particular was their destination.
The husband and wife who ran it were 'feisty'.
And protective.
And fun to pit wits with.
The Berg kids crept along in the darkness, trying desperately to be silent.
Finally, they left my Mom holding the horse's reins and crept closer.
All was quiet.
Light was pouring from the farm house.
The couple was likely eating dinner.
The boys picked their target out of the gloom.
It stood in lonely glory (can one use the word 'glory' in describing an outhouse?) to one side of the yard.
Closer.
Finally, they reached the little structure.
Ahh. Now just a little push to set things going . . .
Now, unbeknownst (good word) to them, the farmer had decided, this year, to outwit his antagonists.
By hiding inside the outhouse.
At the climactic moment, he would burst from the building and give his shotgun a blast into the air.
That would scare those little scamps into next week!
His plan was brilliant.
Genius.
Right up to the point where the boys tipped the outhouse over . . . on its door.
Trapping their would-be assailant inside.
Hampered but unbowed, he stuck his head through one of the holes and shouted, "Ye blimey little rats! I'll get ye!"
Then followed with the planned shotgun blast at the sky.
Admittedly, completed as it was through the hole of an outhouse, the action lost some of its 'punch'.
And the boys, by this time were already over the hill, laughing at their cleverness.
But the farmer's actions did achieve one thing.
Made doubly sure that his farm was on the 'trick' list for a long as the boys lived at home.
Or until he got indoor plumbing.
Whichever came first.

10 comments:

  1. Little devils......and your Mom an accomplice. Hard to believe. I've been meaning to ask you how your Dad is doing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She says she was an accomplice . . .
      Daddy has his good and bad days. Yesterday was a good day. Going to see him this weekend!!!

      Delete
  2. Was tipping that privy on the door side good luck or good management? I would also like to know how the farmer got out ... wouldn't it be a bit tricky going out the bottom, due to the, you know, hole under it? Finally, did this fine tradition extend to your growing up years, Diane?
    :0) So many questions unanswered!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it was actually good luck, but my uncles say otherwise . . .
      He managed to crawl out the hole - without falling in. Who says Cirque du Soleil invented acrobatics . . .?
      I WISH the tradition had continued. I know exactly which privy I would have gone for!

      Delete
  3. Delightful in so many wicked ways! My dad grew up on a farm, he would have loved this story! He told me that he and his brother would tell their sister about the money tree, where they tied dollar bills to the tree... I think I'd rather have a money tree prank than an outhouse tipping prank! LOL

    ReplyDelete
  4. We had outdoor dunnies, even in the town, but halloween wasn't done in Aus when I was a kid and nobody ever thought of tipping a dunny. I'm sure there were other amusements carried out but I can't recall any except penny bangers in mail boxes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Woohoo! I can just see the fun in that!!!

      Delete
  5. He said, "I'll get you! I'll get you! I'm gonna shoot! I'm gonna shoot!" ... if my memory serves me well.

    Tee-Hee!

    Love,
    Chris

    ReplyDelete

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Diane was born and raised on one of the last of the great old Southern Alberta ranches. A way of life that is fast disappearing now. Through her memories and stories, she keeps it alive. And even, at times, accurate . . .

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