August 07 '99             

Volume 166

Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary  Floyd And Ruth McCullough

In attempting to account for all that happened on a recent Saturday, I failed to note an important occurrence. I had written that after seeing my daughter and her family off around three o'clock, I took Barbara to the store, and, soon afterwards, began preparations for supper. I knew when I wrote the article that something was missing but could not think what it was. What I failed to note was the reception Barbara and I attended given by the children of Floyd and Ruth McCullough, honoring their parents on the occasion of their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Now you'd think, a guy couldn't miss remembering something like that, but it happened that I did and so did my wife when she proof-read the article. What can I say? I missed reporting it.

Each week, as I review recent happenings and determine which ones to write about, I do miss some important events. One that comes to mind is my brother's last visit to Pontotoc. Fred and Betty came up at the end of May to attend the high school graduation of a grandchild, and it had been only a month earlier that Fred and Bobby came up from Bartow, FL, and made music at my house one Saturday night. Some of the Crausby clan came over for the festivities. Those were two pretty important events that I never got around to mentioning in this newsletter. So you see, importance does not always play a role in what I write about. Mostly, I write about something that's on my mind at the moment.

The McCulloughs are to be congratulated for reaching a recent marriage milestone, fifty years. In an era where fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce, it is both refreshing and encouraging to celebrate a Golden Wedding Anniversary. In my first year of marriage, I remember thinking how old I would be if our marriage lasted fifty years and wondering if I would even live that long. Seventy-five year-olds are more commonly found today than they were in 1967. If my marriage holds together another eighteen years, and you're still around for the occasion come on over. I can't lock in a date this far out, but, in the summer of 2017, check with one or more of the following, Jason, Rayanne, The Pontotoc Progress, The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, or this newsletter for details.

The McCulloughs probably won't remember the following detail of their celebration, and should they remember it, then they will likely try to forget that this writer showed up in his sock feet at their doorstep on that momentous day. Barbara and I were among the first guests to arrive at the McCullough residence shortly after 4:00 p.m. Having parked near the family entrance, we were tempted to seek entrance at the side of the house, but considering the formalness of the occasion, Barbara coaxed me toward the front entrance. However, she walked along the concrete driveway and sidewalk that I felt to be too indirect a route, and, thus, to the horror of my wife, headed off across the manicured front lawn. Seeing her displeasure with my choice of route, I removed my shoes and walked the remaining distance in a state that is about as close to barefooted as I get in public. I was still brushing grass clippings off my socks when the front door opened, and Floyd and Ruth McCullough cordially greeted us. Perhaps, they failed to notice that I was trying to slip on my shoes at the time. While it is not a distinction of honor, theirs is the first Golden Wedding Anniversary to which I have arrived carrying my shoes.

In our brief time in their home, we saw and visited with a number of our friends, many from First Baptist Church. As I stood in the multi-windowed den, admiring the view of the spacious and shady backyard, listening to background music from a stereo system softly playing distinctive sounds of the forties era, Lewis Sewell, former neighbor of the McCulloughs, greeted me and passed along an interesting memory. Lewis recounted that he and Floyd once shared the expenses of ownership of a riding lawn mower that was housed in a utility building on the Sewell property. Lewis had finished mowing his lawn one Saturday afternoon, and upon seeing the grass at the McCulloughs needed mowing, too, and believing them to be away for the weekend, opted to be a good neighbor and cut his neighbor's lawn. He would later learn that Floyd had merely "allowed" him to be a good neighbor and had watched the whole episode from the vantage point of his recliner. Floyd, like some other neighbors, is just nice enough to grant a friend "clipping privileges."

Oh, yes, for those of you who have followed my aversion to "party food," while attending other events this summer, be aware that I did partake of some cake and punch.

Porcelain City Atlanta Experience

I can't say that I have seen a lot of commodes that have impressed me. Though, I have seen a lot of them that I was really proud to see, at the time, due to a premature or unexpected call by Mother Nature. I have even been known to curl myself around one while seeking relief from the pain of a kidney stone. On more than one occasion, I have pointed the wrong end of me toward the porcelain bowl and hoped my insides did not end up on top of the contents of my stomach.

With one exception, all the houses, in which the family of my childhood lived, had indoor plumbing. Since, I did not first use an outdoor privy and later the indoor commode, I was not particularly impressed with my first exposure to a commode. The chamber pots of my early youth were a novelty to be enjoyed when visiting my grandparents at Thaxton. They were nice in that I did not have to traipse off to an outhouse in the middle of the night, but could lift the lid from the chamber pot and do whatever it was that was required at the time.

Commodes are not objects that fascinate me. They do provide a household service at a reasonable cost and for the most part do not require a lot of maintenance. I don't know the life expectancy of a commode, but I would suppose it to be upwards of twenty-five years. Because of the growing population of the United States and the heavy demand for water in certain parts of the country, manufacturers of such fixtures have in recent years produced toilets that require as little as 1.5 gallons of water to flush away the waste.

Occasionally a toilet manufacturer produces a uniquely shaped commode that appeals to enough folks to produce a ripple effect in the industry, enticing other manufacturers to alter their product line as well. New colors are touted as often as designers' tastes change.

Until my most recent trip to Atlanta, the most impressive commodes I had seen were the institutional types that flush without the assistance of a water tank. I have told my wife from the early days of our marriage, if we should ever build a house, I wanted a tankless commode. However, custodians have advised me against such a wish, pointing to high maintenance and valve trouble with institutional commodes.

While a guest in the Courtyard Marriott in an Atlanta suburb, I discovered a most impressive commode. Though it looked ordinary enough, with its white porcelain tank and bowl with a simple plastic seat (also white), it was an extraordinary "flusher." The first time I used the commode and flushed it, I thought it had blown up. A loud "whooshing" sound echoed in the tiled bathroom and the building seemed to shake. Almost as soon as I whirled around to see what the commotion was all about, the sound subsided, the water level in the bowl returned to normalcy, and my quickened pulse began a slowdown. There was something unusual about the commode, I just wasn't sure what.

Later that evening I flushed the commode and was amazed at how fast it dispelled it contents and how quickly things returned to normal. I think it was the next day that curiosity got the best of me and I decided to "open the hood and take a look at the engine." When I lifted the porcelain tank cover and peered into the tank, I expected to see the usual mechanisms that release the tank water into the bowl below, such as the float and fill devices that control the water level in the tank, and water, of course.

None of the expected mechanisms were present. Instead a large black cylinder lay horizontally in the bottom of the tank. The flush lever was connected to the tank by a metal rod. A 1/2-inch black rubber hose was connected to the topside of the cylinder, but no water was visible. Though amazed, I was still a little disappointed that no complex mechanism was present. I had expected something a little more astounding than a black plastic cylinder that looked a bit like one of those plastic, pressurized containers gardeners use to spray insecticides and fertilizers onto lawns or flower beds. A yellow label with black print displayed the name of the device in the tank, "Flushmate." Flushmate may be somewhat modest, for, based upon my observations, a more fitting name would have been Flush King or Flush Queen, but perhaps those brand names were already taken.

Today's toilet industry, driven by consumer demand for low water consumption, has created a variety of ingenious methods for achieving water conservation. Some methods work better than others do. My present home, the one in Pontotoc, needed a new commode a couple of years ago to replace one whose tank had developed a hairline crack and was leaking. It was then that I learned that modern commodes restricted water usage. I remember the plumber who installed the commode made sure everything was working properly before leaving and one of the tests he performed was simply flushing the commode. I recall asking him about the small amount of water used and he explained that the commode conformed to the water saving standards adopted by the commode industry. Though he did not mention it, I figured the commode industry did not come up with the idea on their own, but were forced to do so because of governmental regulations either at the state or national level. I still don't know that for a fact, but a lot of manufacturing change is driven by the regulatory agencies of government.

Concerned that "everything" might not exit the system on every flush, I mentioned my concern to the plumber who explained that all the water in the tank could be flushed by merely depressing and holding down the flush lever until all the water had been discharged into the bowl. Of course, if after the first energy saving flush, everything had not exited the bowl, I could merely flush again. In time, I learned how to judge the contents of the bowl and predetermine whether or not an extended flush was needed. (You don't suppose the expression, "feeling a little flush," has anything to do with commodes, do you?)

Yet, I digress. Further inspection of the label on the tank in my Atlanta motel room, revealed the name of the website for the Flushmate manufacturer, Upon visiting the website, I discovered there were additional benefits of the Flushmate device. Not only does it save water; it does so without lowering the water level in the bowl. Apparently, other conservation methods sacrifice bowl water in order to conform to new flush standards. Because the water is contained inside the Flushmate, no water comes in contact with the side of the tank, thus eliminating tank sweating. The Flushmate uses air pressure rather than gravity to discharge the stored water into the bowl, so not only is the flush faster, the sides of the bowl are cleaned more efficiently, improving hygiene. A device so wonderful should be in every home, right? Well, that may be a stretch, but if the price is reasonable, I may soon make the investment.

My most recent "Atlanta commode experience" has shed some new light on an old friend and provided me with enough inspiration to consider being impressed with the new technology in the commode industry, if not with the commode proper.

Squatter's Rights Commode Oddity

The previous article brought to mind a memory from my college years. After graduating from Pontotoc High School, I attended Northwest MS Junior College in Senatobia where I was "seen after" by my dad's older brother and his wife, Earl and Billie Carter. Uncle Earl and Aunt Billie lived in an apartment on the campus. Uncle Earl was the Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds. I was soon indoctrinated into dorm life and learning how to cope with two roommates, in a room only slightly larger than the average bedroom of today. There is a lot I can recall about those early years of college that occurred almost forty years ago, a lot of which I had just as soon forget. However, one of my roommates held a position pertaining to commodes that I had not witnessed neither prior nor since, and his position bears mentioning here. I shall refrain from identifying him other than as a roommate.

Right now, I cannot recall if he was a second semester roommate or not. I remember he was a sophomore the year I was a freshman, so it's possible we did not room together the first semester. Those of you who have never experienced dormitory life, where you didn't know a single student on campus and were simply assigned to whatever dorm and room were available, have missed a wonderful opportunity to discover the stuff of which you were made. I would liken the experience to being drafted into the Army but with a longer boot camp.

Bathroom provisions were similar to that of the Army, in that the showers were not partitioned, allowing several individuals to bathe at the same time. Likewise, the several commodes in the bathroom stood side beside in a long row with no partitions there either. Upon entering the bathroom, persons possessing modesty left that trait in the hallway, and privacy was deemed a mental state.

To see someone seated on a commode or stepping naked into or from the shower was routine. However, to see someone wearing shower shoes, squatting on the porcelain rim of a commode was routine only if the squatter was my roommate. Such a sight remains a vivid memory, for as I stated earlier, that is a position I had never before witnessed and have not seen repeated by another person. My roommate explained that his grandfather had taught him how to "use the bathroom," and that over the years he had become accustomed to the squatting position and found it difficult to "use the bathroom" in a seated (normal for most of us) position. He further explained that he did not have to worry about the hygiene of the commode seat, because only the soles of his shoes touched the commode rim; a sensible explanation for an unconventional approach to toilet training. Thereafter, I gained a fresh insight into the meaning of "Squatter's Rights."

Bodock Beau Blonde, Waiter, Husband

Beau reports a number of his fans have expressed enjoyment of the blonde jokes he has passed along, and asks that we note he does not disrespect blondes or women, but does have to smile at the typical blonde joke. The following blonde joke was sent in by more than one contributor, the last being Becky Donavan of Nashville. Beau thanks Joe Fannin for the final two selections.

A blonde decides to try horseback riding, even though she has had no lessons or prior experience. She mounts the horse unassisted, and the horse immediately springs into motion. It gallops along at a steady, rhythmic pace, but the blonde begins to slip from the saddle. In terror, she grabs for the horse's mane, but cannot seem to get a firm grip. She tries to throw her arms around the horse's neck, but she slides down the side of the horse anyway. The horse gallops along, seemingly impervious to its slipping rider. Finally, giving up her frail grip, she leaps away from the horse to try and throw herself to safety. Unfortunately, her foot has become entangled in the stirrup. She is now at the mercy of the horse's pounding hooves as her head is struck against the ground over and over.

As her head is battered against the ground, she is mere moments away from unconsciousness when to her great fortune, the Wal Mart manager sees her and shuts the horse off.

A Waiter had badly injured his leg and was lying on a trolley in casualty waiting for assistance. Suddenly he saw a Doctor walk past.

'Doctor, please help me' said the waiter, 'I've been here for over 3 hours!'

'I'm sorry', said the Doctor, 'but it's not my table!'

John brought his new colleague, Peter, home for dinner. As they arrived at the door his wife rushed up, threw her arms around John and kissed him passionately. 'My goodness', said Peter, 'and how long have you been married?' '22 years', replied John.

'You must have a fantastic marriage if your wife greets you like that after all those years.'

'Don't be fooled! She only does it to make the dog jealous.'

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