By Hardy Jackson
My Daddy had a Poutin’ House.
Like so many institutions of this sort, the Poutin’ House was not created, it just evolved to meet a need. We trace its origins to the late 1950s, when Daddy built a top-of-the-line storage shed out back — complete with running water and electricity. In it he put gardening supplies, tools and a deep freeze for last year’s harvest. He also installed a refrigerator for his beer and a cabinet to hold a bottle or two.
He put the liquor out there because Mama was the granddaughter of a teetotaling Methodist minister. Daddy, whose genealogy included a grandfather with his own personal bootlegger, belonged to the other camp.
But Mama and Daddy were a reasonable, loving couple, so they struck a “bar out back” compromise, and everyone was happy.
In the months that followed, friends were invited out from time to time and it wasn’t long before the “greenhouse” (the shed was painted green) became known to a small circle as a place to relax and talk politics. It was a lively group, especially during campaigns.
Meanwhile, the greenhouse was filling up. A child of the Depression, Daddy could not bring himself to throw away anything, so shelves were piled high with jars and bottles, boxes of various sizes, pieces of rope and string, rusted tools and half-empty cans of dried-out paint whose resurrec- tion was doubtful at best. Before long, the only way to get to the refrigerator was by a narrow path that wound its way through the overflow. Finally, Daddy realized he had to either clean it up or build another.
So he called the carpenter.
The result reflected the man. Daddy’s new retreat included a stove, sink, refrig- erator, satellite connection, lots of cabinets for books and bottles, and no telephone. He brought in chairs and a sofa so folks could sit. He also added a bathroom.
Then the REA man arrived to hook it up, and Daddy learned he had a problem. “What’s the address?” Asked the man.
“We need an address for the meter.” “Same as the main house,” Daddy replied.
“Can’t be,” was the response. “Separate meter needs its own designation.”
Daddy looked confused so the technician tried to help.
“What do you call this place?”
“This is my Poutin’ House,” Daddy answered. “When Mama chases me out, I’ll come here to pout.”
Pretty soon the regulars, who included the editor-publisher of the local newspaper and a smattering of political junkies, began gathering every Wednesday night. They chose Wednesday because the editor would have just picked up the weekly paper for its Thursday distribution, and they could get the news before the rest of the country. When all were assembled, Mama brought out snacks.
And being Wednesday and all, they called it “prayer meeting.”
That was 1986, and for the next decade or so, prayer meeting was the highlight of the week.
But good things don’t last forever.
Years passed. Time and circumstance weeded the membership. Then Daddy died in 2010, and it was over. But the memories remain, and will till the last of us are gone. Maybe longer.