February 24, 2013 by Doug Webster
In an earlier day, the following chore was referred to as Operation Flush…..the periodic efforts to keep the boys’ latrine ‘liquid” and flowing. (For some reason I don’t recall this chore being applied to the ladies’ side of Camp although I am sure it must have been.) Dave Olson recalls the ‘fun’ task, usually assigned to JCs, in this short story.
Every now and then the boys latrine needed maintenance. Peter came looking for Thomas. Today would be his introduction to “Honey Dipping”. Since the camp didn’t have plumbing outside of the kitchen at the main lodge, the facilities for the boys was a 12’x4’ six-seater. About once a week the “contents” had to be stirred up and flushed with water drawn up from the lake with a pump and a 3” hose to move the decomposition process along.
The job, if you’ll pardon the pun, went to the Junior Counselors, JC’s, the 14 and 15-year-olds whose parents were getting a break on the summer fee in return for chores performed around the camp: basic grounds-keeping, trash out from the kitchen, etc. (The best of these was running the trash to the municipal dump a few miles up the road. If you were lucky, you’d get to see bears at the base of the hill scrounging around for goodies.)
Peter found Tom in his cabin. “You ready Tommy?”
“I guess”, came a reluctant reply.
“Why so glum? This is fun!” Pete said.
Tom was bent over tying his boot. “Fun? You got a weird sense of fun Pete.”
With a big smile and a twinkle in his eye Pete said, “This is the most fun I have all week! You’ll see, come on.”
They made the short walk to the latrine. Pete said, “Tommy, go behind the building and grab the two poles laying back there and bring ‘em round. Be sure to grab the ‘right’ end.” Tommy went behind the small structure to find two poles – one end of each with obvious signs of being stuck down in the unthinkable. He grabbed the “right” ends and dragged them around front where Peter was hooking up the pump.
“OK, you got you kerchief? You’ll need it now,” Pete said. As Pete pulled his up around his nose, Tommy got his from his back pocket and did the same. Pete told him to prop the door open. ”We’ll need the air” he explained. “ All right give me one of them poles” and then, as if he were ready to dive off a cliff, he shouted “OK, here we goooo!”
The two entered the latrine, which at the moment, didn’t smell any worse than any other latrine on a hot summer day. Pete stuck his pole down one of the holes and told Tom to do the same. Then Pete said, ”Alright, this is how you Honey Dip.” He started to stir the muck, both hands on the pole. “ Go ahead Tommy, put your back into it.” Tom looked down the hole. Thank goodness the light was dim. Knowing what was down there was enough. He didn’t need to have a good look.
Pete was churning his pole faster and moving it up and down and whistling “Sixteen Tons”, one of the camp songs, obviously a smile on his face under the handkerchief, not showing any signs of anything out of the ordinary.
So Tom starts to churn his hole and after only a few seconds, this incredibly foul and thick stench floats up from below and pierces through the kerchief, proving it to be the joke Pete knew it would. Tom ran from the latrine gagging all the way as Pete stood there belly laughing and exclaiming “I love rookies!”
“Damn Pete! That is so gross!” Tommy said, almost losing his breakfast.
Pete said, ”Ah, you’ll get used to it. The first time is always a shocker. Now you’ll learn to hold your breath.”
“You think you could have told me first, you rat,” Tom complained.
Pete said “But you would have missed out on having a great story to tell your kids! Now, come back in here, the best is yet to come!”
Tom took several deep breaths to clear his senses. What could top that smell he thought? He entered the latrine and Pete told him to stand a few feet away from the hole that Pete had finished churning up. Then Pete pulled a wooden stick match from his shirt pocket, lit it by striking it on the wall and dropping it into the hole….”WOOOSH” and a big blue flame came shooting out as the methane exploded.
Tommy was flabbergasted and burst out laughing.”That was so cool!” he shouted.
Pete said “So, what do you think about Honey Dipping now?”
Tom grabbed a pole and started churning his hole. He said to Pete, “Give me a match”…