I am actually old enough to remember a time when not many people had electricity back up in the mountains of home. When I was a kid, I remember being overjoyed at the introduction of a hand pump at the water well so we no longer had to dip the buckets down some forty feet and reel them in by hand just to fetch water for the house. Suffice it to say that when we did finally get electricity piped in to where we lived, a bunch of people were anxious to have it installed and begin enjoying some of the more modern luxuries of life. Some others though, it would seem just needed this as an excuse to carry on their crazy ways and to look for opportunities to pass the time, no matter how crazy the end results would be.
My uncle had always been something of a scavenger … not to the point of being a hoarder, but his yard would certainly fit the bill for any redneck jokes that happened along, replete with toilet bowl planters and old vehicles up on cinder blocks. That being the case, it was really no surprise that he already had a bunch of the conveniences of modern life, even if he had no readily available power supply to plug them in to just yet. When electrical power was wired in, he was among the first in line with everything all wired up and ready to get it connected at his house.
So proud was my uncle, of all his electrical innovations, that he would often host parties and get-togethers on his ranch and show off his latest installations. When he got his first television set operational, I think he may have actually had bigger crowds at his house than were gathered together at the local bar … quite an amazing feat at the time. Most of us had already had car radios hooked up to an alternator somewhere, running off a car battery … and a few of us even had the more modern car radios replete with eight track tape decks … styling you might say … as we could play our own selections of music and did not have to be contented with whatever they may be playing on the local radio stations.
Some of the craziest gadgets of the day began showing up at the house of my uncle over the course of time. Old bar-lights featuring varied beers and liquors, whatever he could find in the local second-hand stores and anything else that he could find that nobody else would even consider putting in their home, could likely be found at his house, ready to be put on display as he hosted his next function and showed off all of his latest acquisitions. Still, nothing could have prepared me for the one I discovered when I went to his house early on one hunting season, as I would be going out together with him to try to fill the freezer on that particular occasion.
Somewhere or another, my uncle had acquired an old vacuum cleaner, though not having any carpet, he had come up with a rather unique … for the time period anyhow, solution as to what exactly to do with that old vacuum cleaner. Ultimately, he had decided to place it functionally in the room where he usually went to get some peace and quiet and take care of his daily duties … the indoor bathroom.
His logic, as was usually the case, was peculiarly sound in reason. His presumption was that people are generally offended by the odoriferous nature of the duties undertaken in the restroom facilities, and as such, it would behoove the next user, if some means were in place to remove the more blatant olfactory offenses to the senses. While bathroom fans, to the extent they actually function, are common in the world today, at that particular point in time, indoor plumbing was still relatively novel in the mountains, and the idea of bathroom fans had not even made it into mainstream housing in the big cities yet.
His was a rather more ornate setup still however, as he had not merely taken the opportunity to remove the fan and shuffle the air around a little bit. He had very ornately carved the toilet seat so that the flattened nozzle for the vacuum cleaner would fit neatly between the seat and the bowl, had placed the actual vacuum underneath the flooring completely, and wired the entire apparatus into the light switch for the bathroom. While such a setup would not pass housing standards for wiring today, at the time, it was quite the conversation piece … and substantially more functional than the bathroom fans so commonly found today, working as it did, right at the source of the stink.