Trip down Memory Lane in Barton, Oregon brings stream of memories
This story was originally part of a photo capition contest on ActiveRain in that I created on March 27, 2010. I always thought it deserved a post of its own. Hope you enjoy it.
An Old Outhouse ... And Great Memories — Barton OR Deep Creek — Boring OR
Now I don't know whether to be proud
or ashamed about this, but the photo isn't
stolen from a random Google search, I promise.
This outhouse (or privy or backhouse as often called
in the olden days of yore) used to be in my family.
In fact, I have actually, um, personally used it for its
intended purpose. (I know, I know — lucky me!)
When I was a kid, my mom bought a cabin on Deep Creek
in little ol' Barton, Oregon. Now mind you, we were as poor as dirt,
so this cabin was pretty, well, minimalist. I loved almost
everything about being here except the lack of indoor plumbing.
For a kid, this place was paradise! Our full-time house cost
us only $15,000 in the early 1970s, and the cabin was $6,000
in the mid-1970s, but I was so young I didn't know any
better. I thought we must be rich or something! =)
We went to the cabin on weekends, mostly. I used to spend
my days until dusk wandering up and down the shores of Deep
Creek. Sometimes I fished for trout or steelhead. I
remember crafting homemade fishing poles from old tree branches;
once I made a makeshift boat out of a hollowed-out log and
used it to float out into an area too deep to fish from shore.
Those were glorious, innocent times. Being an only child, I spent a lot
of time alone, but I was rarely bored. I think fishing here reminded
me of the camping trips with my grandpa we'd take when I spent summers
on the farm in Malin, OR. I would always think of him when I dropped
a line or baited a hook. These are memories I will always cherish.
But, no, I didn't have a digital camera when I was 12. So how
was I able to get a picture of the outhouse now? Call it a God thing.
in early 2005, I was in Portland with my wife, Sherry. One of our
friends was getting married nearby. I hadn't been back there for years.
But our friends actually were settling in the same suburb where I
spent my childhood. In previous trips to the area I had managed
to avoid my old stomping grounds. But being here brought on a
rush of memories. Much to my surprise, most of them were good ones.
My wife was in the wedding, so she had to spend a few hours in rehearsal.
That gave me some time to take a drive. One of the first places I
thought about was that old cabin on Deep Creek. I hadn't been there
since I was 13 or so, and I didn't have an address or map. But I had
my instincts. Turned out, they were pretty good. I eventually found
the old road that led us to the cabin.
Now, as you can imagine, my drive got confusing sometimes. There
were so many changes to the landscape in the past 30 years. Progress.
Moving forward. Which is great and all, but I was moving back in time
instead, and all those new subdivisions and strip malls were not helping
me in my trip down memory lane. But once I reached the outskirts of
that little town of Barton, it was like stepping back in time.
Having gone that far, finding the old, dirt road was surprisingly easy. I pulled
over and looked down the long road for a few minutes. No repressed
memories bubbled to the surface; just a little longing. So, I put the rig
in gear and drove down the road. It was the longest 2 miles I can ever
remember driving. When I reached the spot that felt like where the cabin
was supposed to be, I stopped. I looked around. The cabin was gone.
I felt a little sad. No, maybe it was more of a feeling of emptiness. Eventually
I drove back to the church, enjoyed a wonderful wedding of friends, and some
celebration afterward. When the happy couple drove away, I told Sherry about
my little excursion, including the bumps along the way. I think she
could tell I was anxious to take her where I had been that day. I didn't
even have to ask. We got something to drink, got in the car, and headed out.
When we drove up to the spot where the old cabin used to be, I stopped. I
told my wife a little about all my old adventures on the creek, and the fun
I had. There were a couple of little houses on nearby lots, and a newer
mobile home sitting where our cabin used to be. While we were looking
around, a guy came out of one of those nearby houses and said hello. I
suddenly had visions of a "Deliverance" moment about to happen, but my
fears were eased in seconds. He was friendly. Maybe he thought we were lost.
Turns out, he saw me drive by earlier, and he had a suspicion I might be looking
for the cabin that wasn't there anymore. Apparently it was demolished only a few
months before, by people who bought the lot, bought the mobile home, and
decided to make new memories of their own. Eventually I asked this gentleman
about the old outhouse. I told him how much I hated it as a kid, but how I
remembered it fondly now. He cracked a smile, and told us to follow him.
Again, for a brief moment, I heard banjos and said a little prayer. But curiosity
gave us a strong desire to see behind the curtain, and my wife always seems
unfazed by my shenanigans. We made it to his back yard, and there it was!
The old outhouse looked exactly the same! I gasped, and immediately
thought of my mom. She would have loved to see it.
Turns out this old guy, recently retired and loving his life of seclusion — and perhaps
even the opportunity to share old memories with a stranger — always had a
soft spot for the old toilet in a tree stump. So he asked his neighbors
if he could drag it over to his place before they tore down the old cabin.
The neighbors were not at home at the moment, so Sherry and I didn't get to meet
them. But we made a new friend that day, got a new picture of an old memory,
and a precious, unplanned moment like we never imagined.
There have been roughly 1,867 days since that one. A lot has changed since
then. Some great times (including the birth of our daughter, Isabella), and
some sad times (the closing of my homebuilding business). But there have been
very few days in my life that I remember so well — or so fondly.