I remember the Census when I was a little girl because of my Aunt Phyllis. Even back then, some people objected to answering all the questions. Aunt Phyllis was one of those people.
“They government has no business asking me whether I have an indoor tauw-let,” she said. Her eyes got big and round and her voice came out kind of like a surprised chicken squawk, only with words attached. That’s the way Aunt Phyllis always sounded when she got agitated or mad at one of her kids or at Uncle Frank. She had a pretty, heart-shaped face and eyes that took up more space than other grown-up I knew. Her kids, Larry and Cindy had great big eyes just like hers, only relaxed and happy looking. Cindy’s were the prettiest eyes I ever saw; she looked just like she wanted to see everything and everything she saw she liked. Aunt Phyllis’s eyes probably looked just like that when she was a kid, before she started getting agitated about stuff. Now most of the time, her eyes were wide and surprised, and sometimes, when she was super-excited, I thought they might fall right out of her head. That’s the way her eyes looked when she was talking about the Census. She was also the only person I knew that said toilet like a chicken squawk.
I never knew why she cared who knew about her toilet. Nobody I knew had an outdoor toilet that they used regularly. We had an outhouse butted up against the tool-shed out back, but we only used it to store hoes and rakes. It was just a one-holer, probably from the olden days ’causes Mom said Grandma had a two-holer when she was growing up before the houses had an indoor toilet. Dad said they used to use corn-cobs to wipe. I thought he was pulling my leg, about that one, but they didn’t have Wonder Bread back then, so maybe they didn’t have Scott’s toilet paper either. Still and all, there had to be something better than a corn cob, for-crying-out-loud.
Sometimes we just went #1 outside, but only if we were way out in the field. I tried not to do that too often ’cause once I had a sty in my eye, and Grandma said that was from peeing outside. Pee was a naughty word for me, but Grandma could say anything she wanted. That sty hurt, so I didn’t want another one; besides, I didn’t want Grandma to know I was going #1 outside. She knew a lot things without me ever telling her: Continue reading