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Stories are told

As far back as I can remember, we had an indoor toilet.

Before I can remember, I’m not sure.

But many of our relatives had outhouses. Going to visit them was a great adventure because I got to live out many of the stories that were told about the outhouse. I spent lots of time sitting in the outhouse waiting for a rooster to peck my bottom just as a rooster had pecked my Aunt Eleanor’s.

My hopes were to hear the dinner bell ring during the night to alert us that a smoker had set the outhouse on fire or that the wind had blown it over with Uncle Willie inside.

Aunt Byrd’s outhouse was a two-seater. A gossip bench, she said.

So, years later, when I had the opportunity to buy a two-seater outhouse bench at a garage sale, I didn’t hesitate in handing over the asking price of $20. I could have gotten it for less had I not wanted the Coca-Cola bottle opener and the Honey Bee Snuff advertising tin sign, both attached to the front.

Now, I did not need an outhouse bench but it did have possibilities.

With the side and back enclosed and a backrest added, the outhouse bench became a conversation piece. Inquiring minds just want to know.

One day, the wife of my high school principal and I were talking about outhouses and she ventured completely off the subject or so I thought.

“Do you know about the candy man?” she asked.

My thought was of Mr. Hicks. He owned a store in town and, although he was stingy/squared, he would sometimes give children a piece of penny candy. But, no, not him, she said. So, no, then. I didn’t know about the candy man. 

Mrs. Griffin’s story was that, during her childhood, the candy man would come to town on a horse and wagon. He would stop at each house and clean out the outhouse with a shovel and dump the contents into his big wagon. When the candy man’s wagon was full, he would take it to the creek, empty it in the creek and go back for another load. Again, and again, until all the outhouses in town were clean.

Standing there at the outhouse on the grounds of the Pioneer Museum of Alabama, several who gathered shared an outhouse story. The candy man was my offering.

After which a gentleman asked, “After hearing that story, do you still eat chocolate candy.”

Without hesitation, “not a bite.”

The Pioneer Museum of Alabama is a place where memories are jogged and stories are shared. What a treasure the museum is. So, don’t let Pike County’s Bicentennial year go by without visiting the museum. Let the stories be told and heard.