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.