Remembering the Alamo and stubborn armadillos


I saw somethin’ the other day that you don’t see much anymore -- an outhouse.

Yep, an honest-to-goodness genuine one-holer, complete with a half moon cut in the door. It brought back some memories.

No, we didn’t have an outhouse when I was little. Well, at least not where I lived. We did have one at the deer lease though.

It wasn’t just any ol’ outhouse either. It was the ultimate in design and efficiency. It was made from two fiberglass bathroom shower/tub units that were bolted together facing each other, and turned upside down, with the tubs as a ceiling and a dirt floor.

A door was cut in the side and a two-holer seat was installed. Why a two-holer? I don’t know. I doubt you’d ever catch two people in there at the same time. Since it was an all-male deer camp, the door was always left propped open, which did seem to help the ventilation somewhat. We called

our outhouse “The Alamo.”

“Well, I think I’ll go visit the Alamo,” someone would say. Then someone else would reply, “Good luck.”

I remember once while sittin’ in the cabin (you thought I was goin’ to say the Alamo, didn’t you?) talkin’ to my huntin’ buddy Kent Cooper, when my dad came bustin’ in.

“Boys, we’ve got problems,” he said.

“What do you mean?” asked Kent.

“A blasted armadillo has moved into the Alamo,” said Dad.

“Do what?” I said.

“Yeah,” Dad said. “I was visitin’ the Alamo when a crazy armadillo came runnin’ in.” He crashed into the wall, bounced off my anklebone, and then dived into those leaves piled in the corner. Must have a hole under ‘em.” Leaves were always blowin’ into the outhouse. We used to flip a coin to see who would rake them out. The loser had to do it.

“What did you do?” I laughed.

“Well,” said dad, “I finished my visit a little sooner than I expected and got out of there. By this time, Kent and I were rollin’ on the floor. Dad went over to the pantry and started diggin’ around.

“What’cha lookin’ for?” I asked.

“Those foggers we use for the bugs,” he said. “I’m gonna gas him out.”

He pulled out one of those cans of insecticide that keeps sprayin’ after you push down the nozzle. “This I’ve got to see,” said Kent.

We made our way down the trail to the Alamo. Dad was leadin’, holdin’ his fogger in one hand and a rake in the other. He went in and started rakin’ leaves.

“I found it!” he yelled.

We poked our heads in. “Whew!” whewed Kent as he grabbed his nose. “It’s a wonder anything could survive in here anyway.”

Sure enough, there was a hole tunneling down in the dirt floor of our outhouse. Dad held up the fogger like a grenade, pushed down the nozzle, and said,” This ought to take care of him,” and he dropped it into the hole. We could hear the fogger spewin’ way down deep in the hole, but we didn’t hear the armadillos fumblin’ around like we figured.

“I guess we’ll have to smoke him out,” said dad. “Run and get us some matches.”

I ran back to the cabin and grabbed the matches and ran back.

“Isn’t that fogger junk flammable?” asked Kent.

Dad looked up. “I hope so,” he said. “It’ll serve that varmint right,” and he lit a match.

“Get back boys,” he said. “She’s liable to blow.”

Kent and I backed away from the outhouse. Dad dropped the match and yelled, “Fire in the hole!” and ran out.

He hadn’t gotten out good before we heard a muffled “boom.” Then leaves and flames shot up out of five other armadillo holes in the woods surroundin’ the outhouse.

The biggest flame shot out of the door of the Alamo. The mixture of insecticide and methane proved to be a very unstable combination.

Well, with the help of a fire extinguisher and dirt, Dad was able to save our outhouse. Kent and I would have helped, but we were busy stompin’ out a bunch of little fires that had started down in the woods.

After that experience, my dad was required to ask permission before usin’ matches.

We never saw that armadillo again. I guess he must have been blown into the next county. From then on, whenever we saw one of those little armor-clad creatures, we yelled that famous cry that strikes fear in the hearts of armadillos all over Henderson County. “Remember the Alamo!”

I know I always will.


Listen up, friends. This Saturday night at the New Harmony Community Center, we’re goin’ to have a Chili Supper and y’all are invited. We’ll have chili and all the fixin’s and also have some of those famous New Harmony desserts to go with the meal. It’s starts at 5 p.m. and there might even be some singin’. I hope to see y’all there.


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