Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Knothole Gang

Well, it's baseball season -- at least for the grapefruit league. And baseball season means little kids who hang around the ballpark hoping for an over-the-fence ball (foul or otherwise).

And then there was the knothole gang - the kids who wanted to watch the game but there was a board fence around the field and the only way to see the game was through a knothole in the fence.

Then, again, there was the knothole gang out behind our two-room school. Only thing was, it didn't involve a baseball game - it involved a couple of outhouses.

At our school there were two large four-holers - one outhouse for boys; one for girls. I'm not sure why four-holers - we were not that community minded - but, hey, it gave one an option of which seat to use.

Anyway, sometime before MY time, some of the larger boys got a great idea. Both outhouses were surrounded by metal fences for privacy. That held true for the girls but the door of the boys outhouse faced the entry through the fence so privacy was not a factor for the boys. The older boys decided that they needed a view for themselves so they brought a pipe, or a broomstick to school (the teachers didn't know or looked the other way). It so happened that two sheets of metal met just opposite the door the the girls outhouse. So, the broomstick, or pipe was used as a pry bar and separated the fence metal just enough to create a gap (in wood it would have been a knothole). It was just big enough to see the girl's outhouse door (which wasn't always closed). Needless to say, it created quite a stir among the boys over the years. Especially when one of the girls neglected to close their outhouse door.

However, once in a while, though, one of the girls might hear some giggling on the boys side of the fence and, looking through the gap in the fence, would see an eye peering through the hole. There'd be a scream - "I see you over there." "I'll tell the teacher on you!" That would get the boys attention and they would bail out of the outhouse enclosure with innocent smirks on their faces.

Outhouses were commonplace in our town. There are a number of stories about different outhouse events but we'll leave some of the other outhouse stories for another time. a few are better than this one.

Meanwhile, the old school has been converted into a museum and civic center of sorts. I've been back there a few times over the years, but I can't remember ever seeing the outhouses after the school no longer was a center of learning. (In more ways than one). If they are still there, I wonder if the crack in the fence is still there. And I wonder if the view through the fence is any different.

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