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Before World War II my family moved to Raymond, Neb. Dad was working on getting his graduate degree in school administration at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, and Raymond was about 30 miles away. On Saturdays, Dad drove the '34 Ford for his classes, and the rest of the week he was school superintendent for the Raymond School.

Our modest house was conveniently located across the street from the school, where I was in kindergarten, but inconveniently, like every other house we had rented, there was no indoor plumbing.

The toilet was outdoors, and it got really cold in Nebraska during the winter. Of course we kept a slop jar under the bed in our bedrooms so we wouldn’t have to go out during the night. The only good thing about the outhouse was the Sears Roebuck catalogue, which substituted for toilet tissue. But Mom got wise and tore out all the pages of lingerie and ladies underwear.

Halloween was always a big problem in Raymond. The high school boys especially delighted in pulling tricks on the school superintendent. We always got our outhouse pushed over, which left us with no toilet until Dad could get help to upright the outhouse once again.  

One year Dad and the school maintenance man worked out a scheme. Together they moved the outhouse forward about two feet. Then they covered the gaping hole in back with sticks and leaves so it was concealed. 

It worked! In the middle of the night we heard terrible screaming. Dad went out with a flashlight and found two boys had fallen into the outhouse hole when they went to push it over. They were mired down in excrement and couldn’t crawl out. Using a long stick, Dad helped them get out and led them to the pump to rinse them off with icy water. The outhouse was never again turned over on Halloween.

Bob Larsen

Bob Larsen is a retired surgeon whose eclectic career has allowed him to see the world.

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