From Gene Reierson, of Esmond, N.D., comes this story told to him by Sylvester Hoffner, a 90-something Esmond resident.
“Back in the days when on Sunday afternoon people would go visit the neighbors,” Gene says in relaying Sylvester’s story, “several people would gather and perhaps have a softball game or play horseshoes or just sit and brag and tell lies.
“Well, there was an outhouse on this farm where some were gathered, and like a lot of outhouses, the ground had given way behind it, leaving a hole leading under the outhouse.
“Well, Jake needed to use the old two-holer.
“Waiting for Jake to get settled, Mike takes a shotgun and blasts at the hole behind the outhouse.
“Well, Jake came blasting out of the place, scared as all get-out, trying to run with his trousers around his ankles.
“This is a true story,” Gene writes; “only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.”
Gene sends along another outhouse true story:
“My young nephew was sitting on the old two-holer on his grandpa’s farm counting his Fourth of July firecrackers, and the sack of fireworks slipped between his legs into the hole.
“He turned around and tried to recover the fireworks. But reaching into the hole with his whole upper body, he got stuck.
“His younger brother came, saw the problem and told someone. But before calling for help, he pulled his brother’s shorts up.”
Russia’s chilly, too
Steve Strege, Fargo, writes, “Your stories about outhouses are always entertaining.
“I grew up on a farm that had indoor plumbing, but I remember using an outhouse while visiting a different farm.
“Some years ago,” Steve writes, “a friend of mine and his wife from Ohio went to Siberia during the winter to adopt two young Russian sisters. He told me when it’s 45 below, you get your outhouse business done quickly.”
Bud Kipp writes, “I was born in Kulm, N.D., in 1922 and the outhouse was a common sight there, and the paper used in them was identical to what the others used (referring to catalogs and peach wrappings mentioned in previous columns).
“We didn’t have a bathroom inside. As a matter of fact, we didn’t have one until we moved to Edgeley, N.D., in 1932.The first thing my brother and I did after unloading was to take a bath in the tub. In Kulm, we had always taken a bath in a portable rubber tub in the kitchen where it was warm because it was close to the cast iron kitchen stove.”
Bud adds that he now is living in the Manor of St. Joseph in Edgeley “as my legs don’t propel me the best, and I have other health problems.
“But I’ve got my iPad and laptop and iPhone to keep me busy and my car out front to jump into to buzz up town.”
A two-story story
A previous column told of a farm with a two-story outhouse. In response, Annette Kisser, Circle Pines, Minn., writes, “In Belle Plaine, Minn., there is a two-story outhouse!
“There is a catwalk leading from the second floor of the house to the top part of this outhouse.
“How wonderful it must’ve been to simply go such a short distance during the night!”
“I grew up on a small farm in southeastern North Dakota,” Annette says. “We did not have indoor plumbing until we left that farm in 1960.”
Chuck Humphrey, Pocatello, Idaho, writes, “We got indoor plumbing at our Verona, N.D., farm in 1950 when my parents added a bathroom to our house. My mom proudly told us later that it was her income from teaching school in Verona that paid for it. (She had resumed teaching in 1950 after a 10-year hiatus).
“We had gotten rural telephone service in 1948 and REA power in 1949,” Chuck adds. “The cooperatives that provide those services — Dickey Rural Telephone and James Valley Electric — still exist, serving patrons in LaMoure, Dickey, Sargent and Ransom Counties.”
If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107, fax it to 701-241-5487 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.