Clise’s Cornucopia– Rambling thoughts on drive-ins, childhood and outhouses

By John Clise

I was thinking back to the days of drive-ins, rotary telephones, outhouses, and when Encyclopedia Britannica was our internet source.  Back in school if it wasn’t in the encyclopedia it was a lie.

Rebecca, and I were talking about drive-ins the other day.  She shared the first movie she saw at the drive-in was Ghostbusters with her mom, Opal, and her sister, Sherri. She was three almost four. Apparently the Slimer scene in the library left an impression on her. She seemed to enjoy the entire drive-in experience. I always enjoyed the drive-in.

I was trying to think of the first movie I ever saw at the drive-in but apparently my memory fails me there. I really can’t remember. It may have been The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams but it seems like it may have earlier. That’s the one that really sticks out in my mind for some reason.

Remember when we had to answer the rotary telephone to know who was calling? Those crazy days before answering machines, voice mail or the ever popular… “Oh, I’ll call them back later.”

I remember when answering the telephone was exciting. We would race to that yellow wall mounted rotary phone.  That was our second phone. Our first phone was one of those indestructible models that came in two colors as I remember. Black or white. We had black. The ringers were so loud you knew when the neighbors were getting calls. They also knew when you were getting calls.

Don’t even get started on the party line. We had one of those in the early to mid 1970s. Makes me laugh to think about people fighting over a phone line based on our technology today.

We had an outhouse in Flatwoods we used as a back up facility until the early 1980s. It was an oldie but a goodie.

Nothing really says “Good Morning” like finding a waiting list at the door of the indoor facilities and you know there is no waiting on a frosty West Virginia morning, or a late night trip with a flashlight.

I have a cousin, who will remain nameless, who thought it be funny to throw a rock in the second stall of the outhouse while I was sitting on the other opening.

Well, turns out it was funny for everyone but him. The rock splashed the contents directly back through hole two and directly in my unnamed cousin’s face. We all got a good laugh. Even the adults got a good laugh.

We kids got our second laugh, not with adults, when the cousin was severely reprimanded for being among other thigs… a dullard.

This was the same cousin who thought he’d inspect the cistern and ended almost drowning in… well… you guessed it, what came out of the outhouse.

Suffice it to say the next day my uncle put locks on the cistern doors since we apparently had someone on the farm “with absolutely no sense,” and a few other things I like to keep for myself when I’m feeling down. They never fail to cheer me up.

I only ever saw my uncle mad maybe three times in 40 years or so. That was one them. It was the lack of common sense he told me later.

Something along the lines “Who sticks their head in a cistern?” I have to say that most definitely agree with him on that one.


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