Monday, November 7, 2016

Of Outhouses and New Fangled Things

On a certain level this is a story of plumbing or rather the lack there of, but it is much more than that. It is a story of origins, of family, of where I came from. It is a story about my father, of his life, and of his humor. To understand, to fully appreciate what I am about to tell, you need the historical context. My parents were born into a world that is much different than the one we live in today. The years of their origination and development that lead them to who they were and the lives they lead in their roles as parents were a mystery to me. They grew up during the Great Depression. The 1940's saw my Dad enlisted in the army and sailing on a liberty ship to an uncertain future in Italy and later Germany in the last days of World War II. Meanwhile my mother went to work at Bell Aircraft as a secretary. I have a general, text book knowledge of those years, but that doesn't really tell you what life was like. One thing I do have are stories. Those things Mom and Dad would tell us over the years. Memories of memories is really all they are. But they are precious to me and I cherish all I can remember.
My parents were born in south Georgia not so very far from each other. Dad in Richland, Mom in Fort Valley. I have never been to Richland. I really should go. I have been to Fort Valley. I have also been to Americus where family on my father's side lived and live to this day. The last time through Fort Valley was with my Mom. Things had not changed so very much. It is little more than a crossing of roads that run straight as a plumb line through endless lines of fields past wooden frame farm houses. Everywhere you look you see red clay. Red clay dirt roads, red clay in the fields, red clay showing through sparse grass surrounding cemeteries beside wood frame churches.

Among the handful of stories of those days is one my Dad told me more than once. I even prompted him to tell it again while we were playing golf. One of the things that was a common feature to both my parents childhoods was the outhouse. Now I have used an outhouse on occasion. One of the things that got me about that was the fact that some are single user affairs while other are two seaters. Not typically the most elegant place to do one's business either. Especially among the dirt poor.
I would imagine, as with other things, some folks had better facilities. According to what I have read having a two seater was a sign of relative affluence.
Obviously having an opulent outdoor crapper isn't something the neighbors would fail to notice. In those days a brick shit house must have been something of a wonder and the source of much gossip down at the local barbershop.
Which leads me to my story. No matter how poor a community is there are always things that separate the haves from the have nots. Having and not having is a relative thing. That has not changed and no matter what, I think it will never change. In rural Georgia of the 1930's one of those things appears to be plumbing. In the Richland Georgia of my Dad's childhood there was one family that people looked upon as being rich. So when it was announced this family was having a bathroom installed, complete with running water and a toilet, in the house it became a point of much conversation and excitement.

While I am sure gossip was practiced where ever two or more would gather, in Richland the local nexus of masculine gossip was the local barbershop. It was there my Dad as a young boy learned about the entire affair as he listened to talk about this wondrous happening. As Dad said most folks spoke of this in terms of amazement, wonder, and perhaps more than just a little envy. But not everyone. As talk began to spiral out of control one of the older men spoke as a man making a pronouncement would. As reported to me this is what this elderly gentleman had to say.

"Well, I don't know about you but that is the nastiest thing I ever heard. I don't care how much money I had, I would never take a shit in the house."

Which just goes to show there is always more than one way of looking at a thing.

How to construct the perfect Possum Blind

One of the most frequent questions we get here at Bubba's possum Ranch is "how do you make a possum blind?" This is a question I have not addressed hitherto for the simple reason every time I hear it I immediately think "are you kidding?" Usually followed by a seriously dismissive snort. If you have not heard one of those you should. You will definitely want to add that to your debate repertoire. It can be quite effective when used properly. But then I realized something. Not everyone has had the benefit of a good Southern upbringing. Especially one under the wise and practical tutelage of an accomplished possum angler such as the afore mentioned and much venerated Bubba. Y'all have missed out and I am sorry for that. I can't fix that short coming in your education completely, but I can bring you up to speed in this small but essential area.

This is by no means the only-est way to construct a possum blind. It is, however, the only-est way to construct the perfect possum blind. The key to the perfect possum blind, like baking a cake, is in the ingredients. Each element is essential and must be chosen with care. Placement is important but not critical. I will not cover common sensical considerations, such as ensuring you have a clear shot from the front porch, as if you can't figure that one out you really have no business owning a fine possum blind anyway. Oh yeah, do not place your possum blind between the front porch and your neighbor's trailer. Shooting into someone's domicile is generally considered a social faux pas.

The first element of a world class possum blind is the trailer. Some folks call this a mobile home but that is a real misnomer as we all know moving one twice is almost never worth the expense. It certainly isn't worth the effort. The right kind of trailer, once positioned, will settle in so to speak. It will conform itself to the topography until it achieves a state of harmonious perfection. Empty beer bottles, when dropped on the kitchen floor, naturally migrate over to the trash can on their own. The primary consideration when selecting your possum blind when it comes to a trailer is color. Green is king. Not too bright though. So faded green would be perfect. Rust works very well too.

Next comes the abandoned car. Experts will differ on this. The biggest divide runs along Chevy versus Ford lines. The choice here is really up to you but I highly recommend you stay with my afore mentioned color scheme. I like a good Ford Pinto. No doors is generally best but failing that no trunk lid and missing windows is certainly a very good choice.


There is no way I can over stress the importance of the choice of trash cans. Plastic just does not work. Many will disagree but theys wrong. They have to be galvanized and rusted to here and back. As to how many the rule of thumb is less is not more. More is more better. At least one needs to have the bottom rusted out completely. Lay that one on its side.

You are almost there, so stay with me. All you need now is the bait. There are any number of schools of thought here and you are certainly free to consult local experts. Any angler would be wise to consult the local experts, if you can find them and if you can get them to talk. That can be a real challenge. Once again I am here to impart and disseminate. Just about any trash will do but for the best results you need two main ingredients in large quantity. Empty beer cans and greasy chicken buckets filled with chicken bones. For the former I firmly believe nothing, and I mean nothing, beats Pabst blue ribbon. As a matter of fact, until I was old enough to go into a store by myself I didn't know there was any other kind. As for the latter, the choice of franchise and variety is clear. You want KFC original recipe. It has to be the bucket too. Quick snack boxes, two or three piece meals, and even the occasional Mrs. Winters will kind of work okay in an absolute pinch, but I refuse to recommend it. The bottom line, though, is extra crispy won't slick up the bottom of the bucket near as much as original recipe. Besides, possum hunting is all about tradition. There is a reason they call it original recipe. Colonel, if you a listening, God bless you for that. For best effect save the lid and put it back on before you place the bait. You want maximum over the bait time, so make 'em work for it.

There you go. As I said placement and location are really up to you. Most of you will not have the advantage of living in prime possum hunting locations, such as LA (Lower Alabama) or Fort Valley Georgia. Still, if you live in possum country, if you include these essential elements, you should do just fine. If nothing else you will have a grand time accumulating sufficient bait.

Good luck and good hunting!