Family Stories, “The Chickens and The Outhouse”

Posted: May 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

Reprinted by permission from Dr. Martha Diede.  (My Aunt who has taken on the task of writing down some of our family’s oral history…)  Here is one of her installments.

As promised, this is yet another episode. In this case, it involves one outhouse, two three-year-old cousins, and three unfortunate chickens. You have met the cousins before: they are Don and Charles.

One weekend, Victor, Marie, and their five children were visiting Emil, Elise, and their four boys. As it was Sunday, the families planned to attend church. But, there were too many people to fit in the cars. So, ten-year-old C* and her nine-year-old cousin T* were left home with the two three-year-old boys, who probably wouldn’t have enjoyed church much anyway.

C* and T* had chores to complete while the families were gone. C* was to wash the dishes, prepare for lunch, and help T* watch the boys. T* had outdoor chores to accomplish. He was FAR too cool to worry about his three-year-old brother Don and cousin Charles, so he told the little boys to “get lost.”

Don and Charles soon found that, as they played, the chickens had become quite a nuisance. In fact, Charles pronounced the chickens “stupid.” Now the question became “what do we do with the stupid chickens?”

Charles determined that the chickens should be caught and thrown into the outhouse. (Yes, this is a real working outhouse, not a real working indoor-plumbing toilet.)

Charles caught the first chicken. C* was still working on lunch. T* could not be bothered. The chicken went “plop” into the outhouse hole. Charles could not resist the internal satisfaction of having dealt with the stupid chicken!

Don and Charles caught the second chicken. It, too, went “plop” into the outhouse hole. Internal satisfaction rose even higher.

The boys caught the third chicken. Like the other two, it went “plop” into the outhouse hole.

The satisfaction of flinging the stupid chicken into the outhouse hole and the glee that this act produced could only be dimmed by the family members who arrived back from church, saw the boys laughing, and wondered what was so funny.

As Victor, Marie, Emil, and Elise came toward the boys to discover the source of their excitement, they heard profoundly distressed “BAWK, BAWK” noises coming from the outhouse.

“What have you boys been doing? Did you throw chickens into the outhouse hole?”
“How many?”

Now, the adults had to figure out how to rescue the chickens.

Logically, T*, who was supposed to be watching the boys, found that he was to rescue the chickens with a chicken hook–like a shepherd’s staff, about 5 feet long, crooked at one end.

T* leaned in, head-first into the outhouse hole.

The women got the hose ready to remove the . . . waste . . . from the chickens.

T* hooked the first chicken under its wing. Pulled it up. The women hosed off the chicken. T* went a second time into the hole. He hooked the second chicken in the same way. Pulled it up. The women hosed off the chicken. T* went the last time into the hole, and hooked the third chicken. Pulled it up. The women hosed off the chicken.

Unfortunately, one chicken did not survive this adventure.

And now, punishment.

C* and T* faced the questioning of irate adults who had just spent a good portion of the time originally alotted for lunch fishing chickens out of the outhouse. How had the boys so run amok? Weren’t C* and T* supposed to be watching them? And Don and Charles – how could they think that destroying food was funny? More chores for C* and T*, who–of course–would never let this happen again. Spankings for Don and Charles.

But for Don and Charles, the worst was yet to come. For lunch, roast chicken.

At the time, Don and Charles were certain that lunch was “outhouse chicken,” unaware that before serving chicken for lunch, someone had to pluck the chicken, then clean it, then roast it.

But, they could not refuse. So they ate.

And, of course, no one ever forgot.

Next: the original Dorothy & her brother Charles, followed by, in no particular order, “How to shoot yourself in the back, by Emil Diede”; fencing by yourself; elopements and other family traditions; dorothy-isms; the 90-mile-per-hour prairie chicken; “hard day’s night”; “ice-driving, by Marie”; “the epic strawberry jello dessert”; “‘Did she say s**t or g** d***?”; and medicating the dog


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