My memory system consists largely of a disorganized string of impressions and partial recalls. My brother Dick, on the other hand, seemed to remember everything that ever happened. I miss being able to say, "Dick, what year was it that that the folks rented the cottage on Van Auken Lake?" and get a prompt and accurate answer.
Anyway, they did rent this cottage on Van Auken Lake in Van Buren County for a short time one summer. I was quite young and vaguely remember it as a pretty modest place on a rather barren lake-front lot with a privy out back. What I do remember in vivid detail was Grandma Pratt (Abigail) going out to use that privy. I think she was the first one to use it after we arrived.
Now Grandma Pratt was a rather dignified lady who as I remember always wore long, somewhat sober dresses. Nothing flashy about grandmas in those days even when at a summer cottage. She would have been in her late 60's or early 70's.
Grandma has to go so she heads for the privy, enters and closes the door and in no more than the time it would take to raise her skirts and pull down her drawers and sit down in the two-holer there is a yelp and the door flys open and out scurries Grandma flailing at her skirts followed by yellow jackets! Well we boys are banned from the cottage while Mother ministers to Grandma. I don't know how badly she was stung. No problem, for there is more action out back where Dad is about to take on the yellow jackets. He tipped over the privy and with some make-shift torch burned out the yellow jacket's nest with us boys looking on in awe. I think he got stung too.
There is another story which is not exactly a privy story but close. The summer I was down at the Ohio farm de-sexing corn stalks Uncle Henry came to visit with his new bride, Aunt Eva. It is pertinent to this story to note that the Thayer's bathroom doors, like the Woodruff's bathroom doors in Watervliet, lacked functioning internal locks.* So I had to go, and a closed door somehow did not signal to me that there was some one in there. Even as the door resisted I persisted. Put this picture in your mind's eye: My new Aunt Eva sitting on the toilet hanging on with one hand and trying to hold the door closed with the other while her klutz of a nephew is trying to get in. Mutually embarassed, we never spoke of the incident.
* Not only no locks, but one of the bathrooms at Watervliet had two doors. That always drove my wife Elaine nuts.
The Wisconsin River flows 430 miles across the state from Lac Vieux Desert in northern Wisconsin to its junction with the Mississippi River ar Wyalusing State Park in southwestern Wisconsin. Known as "the nation's hardest working river," it has many power dams and resevoirs, mainly on its upper and middle portions along the lower stretch with beautiful scenery and numerous islands.