Tipping over outhouses has long been a favorite Halloween prank. I don’t know how long it had been around, but when I was growing up in the 1950’s it was winding down. Not because kids were giving up the activity, but more because the use of outhouses was winding down.
I think this particular caper was our last, and we went out with a bang. This was our crowning glory. We didn’t think of it or plan it that way, that’s just how it happened.
We had a combination Mom and Pop store and gas station and it was a favorite “loafing” place. I can recall many a lazy summer afternoon lounging out back telling stories and listening to the Cincinnati Reds baseball game on the radio. During lulls in the game, we would have “fly spitting contests.” The older men would chew tobacco and us younger kids would chew bubble gum. When a fly would land in the dirt, we would take turns demonstrating our spitting accuracy by trying to spit on the fly. (These were the good old days?) Some of the old guys were quite skilled at this and gave us something to aspire to. Anyway, I think I have wondered off the path of the original story.
The building itself was constructed in the New England “Saltbox” style. The front main part was a rectangle shape with a peaked roof running along the length . The rear section was covered with a sloping roof that tapered down to about five feet from the ground. This provided easy access to the roof.
One evening in late October we were engaged in our favorite activity, loafing, and were discussing Halloween plans. Naturally, the subject of tipping over an outhouse came up. We selected a target outhouse which was important because one too big required considerable effort and you ran the danger that during the last hard push to get it past the tipping angle someone might slip and end up……well you can imagine where.
We were doing our planning at our favorite loafing place, out behind the store. During the conversation someone looked up at the low slanted roof and commented about how easy it would be to get the outhouse up on the roof. All we needed was a couple of two by fours to use as a ramp, some rope and about six guys. Two could get up on the roof and pull with the rope and the other four push from below and we could slide it right up there.
From there we continued to refine our plans and came up with the idea of setting it upright on the peak of the building. We decided to accomplish this by nailing short two by fours to each corner of the outhouse and putting two on each side of the peak. They acted like legs to support the outhouse in an upright position on the peak of the roof. For icing on the cake, we attached a large sign that proclaimed “Mayor’s Office.”
The only thing we did wrong was to overestimate the difficulty in executing this plan.
On the selected night, our plans were finalized and the materials ready. The outhouse went over quite easily and with hardly a sound. The six of us picked it up and carried it off like pallbearers’ carrying a coffin. It only took a minute or two to attach the legs rope and sign. The two by fours were laid up to the roof and in another couple of minutes the outhouse was on the roof. From there we quickly moved it to the peak and stood it up. A few seconds later, we were off the roof and running to a place where we could set and bask in the glow our handiwork.
The next morning we congregated at our school bus stop, which happened to be in front of the store, and there it was in all it’s majesty in the early morning sunlight like a castle on the mountain top.
We went off to school as usual and when we returned that afternoon, it was still there. The only difference was a large sign in the store window that said “We know who done this, and if they come forward and removed the outhouse nothing would be said.” The outhouse and sign remained for about a week then one day we came home from school and the caper was over. The outhouse and sign had been removed.

Tipping over outhouses has long been a favorite Halloween prank. I don’t know how long it had been around, but when I was growing up in the 1950’s it was winding down. Not because kids were giving up the activity, but more because the use of outhouses was winding down.

I think this particular caper was our last, and we went out with a bang. This was our crowning glory. We didn’t think of it or plan it that way, that’s just how it happened.

We had a combination mom and pop store / gas station that was our favorite “loafing” place. I can recall many a lazy summer afternoon lounging out back telling stories and listening to the Cincinnati Reds baseball game on the radio. During lulls in the game, we would have “fly spitting contests.” The older men would chew tobacco and us younger kids would chew bubble gum. When a fly would land in the dirt, we would take turns demonstrating our spitting accuracy by trying to spit on the fly. (These were the good old days?) Some of the old guys were quite skilled at this and gave us something to aspire to. Anyway, I think I have wondered off the path of the original story.

The building itself was constructed in the New England “Saltbox” style. The front main part was a rectangle shape with a peaked roof running along the length . The rear section was covered with a sloping roof that tapered down to about five feet from the ground. This provided easy access to the roof.

One evening in late October we were engaged in our favorite activity, loafing, and were discussing Halloween plans. Naturally, the subject of tipping over an outhouse came up. We selected a target outhouse which was important because one too big required considerable effort and you ran the danger that during the last hard push to get it past the tipping angle someone might slip and end up……well you can imagine where.

We were doing our planning at our favorite loafing place, out behind the store. During the conversation someone looked up at the low slanted roof and commented about how easy it would be to get the outhouse up on the roof. All we needed was a couple of two by fours to use as a ramp, some rope and about six guys. Two could get up on the roof and pull with the rope and the other four push from below and we could slide it right up there.

From there we continued to refine our plans and came up with the idea of setting it upright on the peak of the building. We decided to accomplish this by nailing short two by fours to each corner of the outhouse and putting two on each side of the peak. They acted like legs to support the outhouse in an upright position on the peak of the roof. For icing on the cake, we attached a large sign that proclaimed “Mayor’s Office.”

The only thing we did wrong was to overestimate the difficulty in executing this plan.

On the selected night, our plans were finalized and the materials ready. The outhouse went over quite easily and with hardly a sound. The six of us picked it up and carried it off like pallbearers’ carrying a coffin. It only took a minute or two to attach the legs rope and sign. The two by fours were laid up to the roof and in another couple of minutes the outhouse was on the roof. From there we quickly moved it to the peak and stood it up. A few seconds later, we were off the roof and running to a place where we could set and bask in the glow our handiwork.

The next morning we congregated at our school bus stop, which happened to be in front of the store, and there it was in all it’s majesty in the early morning sunlight like a castle on the mountain top.

We went off to school as usual and when we returned that afternoon, it was still there. The only difference was a large sign in the store window that said “We know who done this, and if they come forward and removed the outhouse nothing would be said.” The outhouse and sign remained for about a week then one day we came home from school and the caper was over.

The outhouse and sign had been removed.

Syracuse during the Great Depression wasn’t the greatest place in the world, it was every man for himself and when the going gets tough, the tough gets going, or that’s the way it was with Topcoal, Stubby and the Rabbit.
Now the three men were great innovators, they were great motivators, they were great conservationists, they were great moonshiners.
Topcoal was the master moonshiner and after him came Stubby, who was running a close second. The Rabbit being several years younger inherited the job of keeping the fire going under the still.
Topcoal and Stubby loved to run trot line, a way of caching big fish, and the Ohio river was full of big fish, a tasty meal for three moonshiners setting around the still in the evening. Fish could also be traded for a lot of good veggies from time to time.
Now here is the scenario. In the spring they would load up Topcoal’s sixteen foot jon boat with fishing equipment and ever thing they need to make moonshine and head up river, say twenty or twenty five miles, where it nice and quiet.
Now in those days there weren’t any roads that ran up into that territory, so making shine wasn’t much of a risk. Now as the story unfolds we find Topcoal in the jon boat looking the line and after catching several big fish, he look down river and saw a motor boat coming toward him.
When it got closer to him he realized it was a game warden from Gallipolis, Ohio, who was at least four or five hours from his headquarters. The game warden came along the boat and asked to see Topcoal’s fishing license, and was told they were back in camp.
The game warden told Topcoal to finish hooking the line and he would check his license when he got back to camp, which he did. After pulling in several big fish he dropped the line back into the water and the game warden took Topcoa and the jon boat in tow and headed toward camp
Upon tying off the boat, Topcoal hollered up to Stubby, who was tending the still, to bring down his fishing license and “put a shell in both barrels.” And with that the game warden let loose of Topcoals boat, shoved back from the dock, started his motor and returned downstream the way he came, and that was the end of that.

By John Slack, 2009

Syracuse during the Great Depression wasn’t the greatest place in the world, it was every man for himself and when the going gets tough, the tough gets going, or that’s the way it was with Topcoal, Stubby and the Rabbit.

Now the three men were great innovators, they were great motivators, they were great conservationists, they were great moonshiners.

Topcoal was the master moonshiner and after him came Stubby, who was running a close second. The Rabbit being several years younger inherited the job of keeping the fire going under the still.

Topcoal and Stubby loved to run trot line, a way of caching big fish, and the Ohio river was full of big fish, a tasty meal for three moonshiners setting around the still in the evening. Fish could also be traded for a lot of good veggies from time to time.

Now here is the scenario. In the spring they would load up Topcoal’s sixteen foot jon boat with fishing equipment and ever thing they need to make moonshine and head up river, say twenty or twenty five miles, where it nice and quiet.

Now in those days there weren’t any roads that ran up into that territory, so making shine wasn’t much of a risk. Now as the story unfolds we find Topcoal in the jon boat looking the line and after catching several big fish, he look down river and saw a motor boat coming toward him.

When it got closer to him he realized it was a game warden from Gallipolis, Ohio, who was at least four or five hours from his headquarters. The game warden came along the boat and asked to see Topcoal’s fishing license, and was told they were back in camp.

The game warden told Topcoal to finish hooking the line and he would check his license when he got back to camp, which he did. After pulling in several big fish he dropped the line back into the water and the game warden took Topcoa and the jon boat in tow and headed toward camp

Upon tying off the boat, Topcoal hollered up to Stubby, who was tending the still, to bring down his fishing license and “put a shell in both barrels.” And with that the game warden let loose of Topcoals boat, shoved back from the dock, started his motor and returned downstream the way he came,  and that was the end of that.

John Slack - 7-09-09

1955 (or there abouts) in Syracuse, Ohio, a town located in Meigs County, Sutton Twp to be exact, an Ohio river town– just like a lot of other river towns at the same time period I will be referring to in this writing endeavor.

Not too many people punched time cards those days, most people found work where ever it could be found and a lot of people had no work to be found though a little moonshine or cold bottle of home brew, however, always seemed to be available.

Now there were a few men in town who were pretty good roof painters and could make a pretty good living during the summer, but occasionally one or two “wannabes” would manage to do one or two roofs every now and then, mostly for beer money, and this was the case with Cracker Belly and his friend.

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In the summer of 1953, Syracuse, Ohio was a small rural river town with a population of about 650 people and a slew of mangy dogs.

Just two years earlier it had reached a milestone in its march into the modern world, its dirt and gravel streets had been “chipped and sealed.” Not much ever happened there. The most exciting event in years was when Mayor Harvey “Longbelly” Tunner caught his foreskin in his fly when taking a leak out behind the Baptist’s annual tent meeting.

Mary Himen was born there, and had not been more than fifty miles away in all of her thirty eight years. As a child, she was shy and introverted, but by adulthood had acquired a reputation as an individualist with a wackey tilt. Following the death of her parents, she became—to use the vernacular of one old timer—“as kooky as a left handed crank shaft.”

By late summer of 1953, Mary had taken to closing herself into her parents house and not emerging for days on end. No one knew what went on in there, however, after the “incident” was over it took several pickup truck loads to haul away the empty tin cans, wine bottles and her leftover stash of “Wackey Tabacky.” Marijuana made her horny as hell.

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I was born and raised in southern Ohio, and at that time, the ambition of every young man was to get old enough to get his first gun and hunting dog. My first gun was an old 10 gage goose gun, which I called a “Long Tom” because it had one of the longest barrels of any gun I had ever seen.

In fact, the barrel was so long that I had to buy two hunting licenses because when I swung it around to shoot, the barrel extended clear into the next county. I saved on ammunition, though, because many times I didn’t need to shoot. I could just reach out with the gun and club them to death. Once when hunting pheasant with several friends, we flushed up a large bird and everyone took a turn shooting at it. They all missed.

By the time it was my turn, the pheasant was two counties away. It was not a problem, I took deliberate aim and fired. The pheasant dropped immediately. I was very pleased until I discovered it took me two days to hike over to pick it up. Also wore out my best hunting boots. After I acquired my gun, I went looking for a good dog. An old guy down the street offered me one of the puppies from a new litter his dog just had.

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It was in early September in 1952 and I was in the eighth grade at the Syracuse, Ohio elementary school. I had gotten a small bottle of liquid that smelled like rotten eggs – sulfur dioxide I think it was.

I had been having a good time asking friends to smell it and watching their reactions.  That didn’t last long as everyone got wise fast, so I had to find another angle. We were going to the town dump to get a little “batting practice,” where we would take turns pitching and hitting empty tin cans. I happened upon this really ornate perfume bottle that after cleaning it up it looked like it once held some very expensive perfume. When it came to this kind of stuff, I had a mind like a steel trap. I immediately recognized the usefulness of what one could do with this bottle and some “rotten egg” water.

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This is a story from Syracuse, Ohio from 1956 about a woman–I think her name was Mrs. Mc Coy–and her gentleman suitor Lige Shields.

Mrs. McCoy became widowed in the fall of 1955, and by late summer of 1956 Lige decided to court her. Age-wise, they were in their mid to late sixties. Physically, both were slowing down a lot and Lige had become very hard of hearing.

When Lige started courting, he went at it full bore and showed up every night. He lived about five miles away in Racine, Ohio. He drove an old car; I think it was about a 1936 Plymouth or Chevrolet. He would arrive about 6 PM and leave about 11 PM.

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It was a warm day in mid September 1956, and three of us boys were going squirrel hunting. The group consisted of myself,  my older brother John and a friend Dave D—–. Dave was not the brightest bulb in the lamp and he had quit school after eighth grade as he didn’t have the necessary tools to make it in high school.

The way we hunted was to split up so we wouldn’t be competing with each other.  Dave stayed up near the top of the hill; John went to the right and about halfway down the hill. I went to the left and also about half way down. We settled in to the routine of “still” hunting and had been there about a half hour when we heard Dave fire off about three fast shots.  I thought “Well, Dave got something and settled down again.”

All of a sudden we hear something coming crashing through the brush and Dave yelled and screamed to high heaven. Suddenly we saw Dave running full bore out into the open. He flipped his shotgun up into the air and it comes down barrel first and sticks in the ground like a spear.  He’s on a dead run, waving his arms about his head. He doesn’t slow down, but keeps on trucking all the way out of the woods, and apparently all the way home.

We picked up his gun and the barrel was plugged half the length with mud. Later as we were going home we stopped by his house to find out what happened. His head was swelled up and covered with red bumps.

After he settled down, Dave said that he had noticed a dead tree with a hole in which there was a lot of bee activity. He decided that, since he hadn’t found anything else to shoot at, he would shoot some bees. He stuck the barrel into the hole and gave them three quick blasts. Immediately a whole lot of severely pissed off bees came flying out set on revenge. This precipitated Dave’s rather hasty exit from the area.

His final comment on the event was, “I’m not going to shoot any more bees.”

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