Pat Heston

Admittedly I am old, speeding through my seventh decade, occasionally asked by inconsiderate young people, “Did you have electricity and running water when you were growing up?” or “Did you have a dinosaur as a pet?”

Occasionally, I am asked about an outhouse.

For those too young to know, an outhouse was a forerunner of a port-a-potty. In fact, they made a port-a-potty look like the main restroom at Donald Trump’s Mara-Lago estate.

For the record, my family had an in-house restroom with running water. But several country churches of my acquaintance had outhouses. Now and then, our family would visit one of those rural congregations for a revival meeting. If you don’t know anything about outhouses and revival meetings: As a kid, you learned to “hold it” until you got home, because as painful as that was, it was better than hiking out behind the church building on a minus-five-degree night to use the outhouse.

Many farms of my acquaintance also had outhouses. A few did not have electricity. A generation before mine, a favorite Halloween prank was to tip-over the outhouse structure itself or to move the structure behind the hole in the ground rather than leave it over the hole.

An acquaintance of mine whose name I shall not mention—let’s just call him … uhh … well … my father-in-law—loved moving farmers’ outhouses on Halloween night. He and a couple of buddies would visit area farms after dark and move the outhouses from over the pit to behind the pit. That way, when the farmer went out to use the “facilities,” he received quite a letdown.

One infamous Halloween night, a farmer who was victimized each Halloween, decided to beat the pranksters to the punch. And, so, before darkness settled in, he and his sons moved the outhouse behind the pit. Later, when the young rebel rouser (let’s just keep calling him my father-in-law) and his makeshift gang showed up at the farm to pull their prank … they were pranked.

The young man we are calling my father-in-law was the first to reach the outhouse. Well, technically, he was the first to reach where the outhouse had previously been. Before he knew what was happening, he was waist-deep in deep waste. When his compatriots heard his sudden scream and that unique splat-squishy sound of a human body plopping into a pit of (well, I think you can probably guess), they abruptly stopped—dead in their tracks.

The gang members, displaying that well-known honor among thieves, bolted, leaving the boy in the pit with quite a sinking feeling. Meanwhile, the farmer heard the commotion and calmly called the police on the ever-popular party line phone. To summarize the events thereafter, farmer and sons helped extricate the culprit, who was walked the short distance home by the two policemen who had responded to the call.

They later walked back to their car.

If I remember correctly, the boy was charged with “raising a stink.”