of the outhouse kind make great family reunion tales
by Delbert Trew
family has always been big on reunions, and in 1978, in order to be
host at such gatherings, we built a recreation area in a deep canyon
here on the ranch.
We conduct Ruth's family reunion on even-numbered years and my family
reunion on odd years, which she thinks is fitting, after considering
most of my relatives.
We built a road, cleared a large campsite and turned to the next priority:
acquiring an outhouse. My nephew, Carter Trew, and I built a nice
two-hole toilet from used lumber and tin at my shop near McLean. We
loaded the facility on my pickup, tied it down with a lariat rope
and pulled out on Interstate 40 for the 10-mile journey to the ranch.
We were laughing at the looks we received from passing tourists who
recognized the toilet and from truck drivers honking their air horns.
We were going about 50 mph when the wind caught the structure, causing
it to do a double-back flip out the back of the pickup. It landed
in the middle of I-40 and was being pulled along by the clinging rope.
Our rear-view mirrors revealed the skidding toilet, swinging from
lane to lane, being dodged by a carload of tourists at each swing.
It was an outhouse nightmare.
We quickly pulled into the ditch, halting the circus before catastrophe
struck. After reloading, we tied it more securely and proceeded slowly
on our journey, laughing at the incident.
At the campground, we installed the toilet near a road on a creek
bank where we hoped it would serve the family for many years. However,
this was not the final chapter.
Later, we added overhead electrical lines for lighting and attached
one cable to the outhouse to provide a light inside.
At the next reunion, Grandpa Floyd Winnett arrived in a small truck
equipped with a winch for hoisting. The pipe gin-poles on the rear
of the vehicle stood some height above the cab. Without thinking,
he drove under the overhead cables at a good clip, catching the cable,
which caused the outhouse to do another double-back flip, traveling
some 20 feet through the air before landing on its top in the creek
bottom. Fortunately, although many relatives were present in the canyon,
no one was seated inside the facility at the time of takeoff.
For the third time, the high-flying outhouse was loaded on a pickup
and installed for use. Each year, during both reunions, the story
was retold with new jokes created about the incident. Most revolved
around innovations such as seat belts, but no one has solved the problem
of wearing the device and still being able to lower and raise your
Carter and I never again entered the toilet without looking to see
who was coming down the road, as we knew all too well the beautiful
double-back flips this high-flying outhouse was capable of executing.
"It's All Trew"
September 17, 2005 column