This morning I was out for my 20 mile run through the hills. As I was crossing one particular ridge I saw that Old Talking Tree Leaner propped up against a big Beech tree. I don’t know if he noticed me or not but I wasn’t slowing down to take the chance.
Not too long ago I was telling you about that old man who was camping in an old van down by the river ( In A Van Down By The River ). Well I had the good fortune of running into the old guy again this morning so I have some news from the hill.
So anyway, I was running along through the trees, rocks and badgers and right there in the middle of the trail was the old guy from the van. He had himself a fire built and was cooking up some coffee. He saw me coming and by the time I got to where he was he had already found a coffee cup and was reaching it to me. “Coffee?”
I looked at the cup and was completely amazed that it appeared to be clean. “Sure!” I took the coffee cup and he poured me a steamy black drink. The coffee sort of put me off guard and I ventured to ask the old guy how things were going.
Back in the good ole days when I was a kid things sure were rough. What with only 4 channels on the TV, one phone in the house, and having to do actual chores it is a wonder that we even made it through alive. Yet here I am and there were a few other survivors too.
He paused and looked at me, “How old are you boy?” I lied and told him that I was 62 (I am 33), he didn’t seem to notice or be concerned. He started giggling and then chuckling then soon he was just all out laughing hysterically. “Have you ever went to sleep in the Johnny house?”
“You know man, the john, the outhouse, the toilet…”
I told him that no, I had never slept in the bathroom. He laughed at me and explained that a Johnny House was an outdoor toilet. A small wooden shack built over top a huge hole. Basically a long board with a seat cut out is laid over the hole and that’s where you go. If the toilet seat broke and you fell in… well no one ever wanted that to happen.
Suddenly he quit laughing and got really serious. “I think all youngins should have to grow up using an outhouse. Let them use indoor toilets when they grow up but growing up with a Johnny House is good for you! Look at how I turned out!”
He was talking now. I flipped on my mental recorder and sat back (not leaned) against a tree and listened with a hot cup of coffee.
That Johnny House Was Half A Mile Away!
It could be a major traumatic event just to get out to the bathroom and back. It was a dreaded trip when the rain was pouring down or a snow storm was on. It was especially bothersome if “mother nature” came upon you in the middle of the night when all sorts of scary boogers were out and about.
At night we would hold “it” as long as we could and pray for the daylight to come. But there were times when it just wouldn’t wait and we had to trek it out to the Johnny house in the middle of the dark night.
Every crackle in the woods, every unexplainable squeak and groan becomes louder and scarier when you are alone. This is especially true if you are 10 years old and you’re headed for the Johnny house at 3:00 in the morning.
On one such night I had been feeling really sick and had the… well, you know… I had the runs and so I had to run out to the old Johnny house. I sat out there so long I fell asleep on the seat. Sometime later that night my oldest sister woke up and had to slip out to relieve herself. She walked up to the door and she grabbed the handle, opened the door and jumped in with almost one motion (I didn’t see this but she told me later).
About that time a sleeping young boy woke up scared to death and screaming his head off with his britches down. This scared the girl really badly so she took to screaming too. There we were trying to out scream the other.
Uh Oh! Here Comes Daddy!
Suddenly we heard the front porch screen door slam. Now there’s a sound that is etched into my memory. How many times I heard that screen door slam shut. Daddy yelled out, “What in tarnation is goin’ on up there?”
That moment, when we both heard that familiar slamming of the screen door and daddy’s voice, we were brought to our senses enough to realize what was going on. “You scared me! You did it on purpose!” my sister said. I tried to explain but she would not believe that I had simply fallen asleep in the Johnny house. I am always pulling pranks and and tricks she said.
Now we could hear daddy walking through the yard, “I said what’s goin’ on up here?”
My sister turned around and told dad that the “little booger” had hid in the toilet and ambushed her in the middle of the night. “He scared me so bad that I wet myself!” I had to fight the urge to laugh when she said that, but I knew better. She told him how she was tired of my tricks and that I should be sent after a switch for what I had done. If I was her boy, she explained, “he would be getting a good switchin’ right now!”
Daddy calmed her down and when I told him what had happened, about me having the runs and me falling asleep in the Johnny house, he believed me. He told me that it was still my fault because I was always running around looking for ways to prank folks and that now they just expect it. “You best straighten up and get serious!” He said, “stop all this foolishness.” He ruffled the hair on my head and then told the both of us to get to bed.
Well maybe I will tell you more about what happened to my sister some time and perhaps even explain why she seemed to dislike me so much. Yep, she sure enough wanted me to get a good whoopin’ and she was always trying to arrange it too.
He chuckled and went to working with his fire, stirring the coals and re-positioning the wood. I knew it would be risky but I was curious so before I left him there in the woods I asked him one final question, “Have you ever met up with the ole Talking Tree Leaner?”
Oh No! Not The Old Talking Tree Leaner!
“Oh yeah! The Old Talking Tree Leaner! I have run into the old rascal a few times over the years. Fact is I saw him this morning.
“What did he say?” I felt like giggling because of the thought of those two going at it.
“What didn’t he say would be more like it! They say that if you talk to him long enough you go out of your mind and you run through the winds until finally you are so tired that you lean up against a tree for some rest… well that’s where you wind up staying aint it?”
We both had a laugh and he explained that he had only talked to the old Tree Leaner once about 30 years earlier. He said he still has bad dreams about it but with the help of his mail order study at home schooling in psychiatry he is able to function normally.
It Was Time To Run
Since I had stopped in the middle of my 20 mile run for a coffee break I felt that I should start over. So after another 20 miles of running through the forested hills like a bipedal gazelle I finally made it back to my own back yard and am even now relaxing on the back deck with my tea and crumpets.
Wait! I just saw bigfoot in the neighbors yard! Dang it was big and blurry so I know it had to be a Bigfoot! Time to call the Game Warden or Animal Control. I am tired of those coyotes, badgers and Bigfoots getting into everything! It’s time to alert the authorities.
Some of us have to go out into the world (or was that twisted imagination?) and find or just happen upon crazy folks and weirdness just so we can bring you these Too True Tales. And What a Long Strange Trip It Still Is…
Doh! I forgot to ask the old dude his name again!
What My Heart Wants To Tell
“God knew that it would take brave and sturdy people to survive in these beautiful but rugged hills. So He sent us His very strongest men and women.”
So begins the heartwarming story of Verna Mae and her father, Isom B. “Kitteneye” Slone, an extradordinay personal family history set in the hills around Caney Creek in Knott County, Kentucky.
HEY Y’ALL !
This story was taken from bits and pieces of many different peoples lives both real and imagined.
Any resemblance to any one real person would be a miracle and a complete coincidence. This is fiction people ;0)
Written by D Slone, Copyright 2011
Outhouse Diving For Drunk Hillbilly Girl
“…there was a 12 year old girl who went out around midnight to go to the outhouse. A long time passed but she didn’t come back into the house.
Her parents became very worried and went out to check on her.
The outhouse door was shut so they knocked on the door, “Are ya in thar?” (Spoken as one word ‘ar-yin-thar’) There was no reply..”