I grew up on a farm near a wonderful small town of two-hundred-and-fifty people by the name of Troy Mills. Troy7, as we locals referred to it, was already past it prime by the 50’s and 60’s. The mill that gave the town its name was only a foundation and a crumbling dam. There had been a bank once, but it might have been closed since the Depression for all I knew.
Even with this urban decay, there were still many businesses in the Troy of my youth. Two grocery stores, two trucking firms, a hardware store, a barbershop, an auto-repair shop, and the Troy Mills Consolidated School. This last was of course the largest building in town with an approximate enrollment of 240 students, kindergarten through twelve.
Troy was an unincorporated community and had no mayor or city officials of any kind. Troy relied on the county for police protection, which was okay, because I can remember no crime. The county was also responsible for the upkeep of the streets, and the care and replacement of the four stop signs that governed traffic.
This unincorporated status also meant that Troy did not have a municipal sewage system until late in the 60’s, which was well after the events of this story. All of the homes and the school had their own septic tanks, and since all of the business owners lived in Troy, there was no need for indoor public restrooms. There was the archetypal outhouse behind Walton’s gas station, but since no locals had used for it, it was not even supplied with fresh corn cobs.
Mike Oliphant rant the other gas station, taking over from his father-in-law Charlie Winstoffer. Even though this older gentleman had turned the reins over to his son-in-law, he still liked to “help” out. Old age had slowed this gentleman down, and even with two aids, his hearing was almost non-existent. He was old fashioned and somewhat peculiar. Often he would delay a customer while he removed and replaced their hubcaps so that they would all be aligned. Even so, I imagine he thought he was a great help and it would have been hard for his son Mike to tell him he was no longer needed.
Now I was not at the station the day my story takes place, but I can attest for its veracity. I heard the story from two men who claimed they were there, both giving the same account. In all of my life, I never knew these men to agree on anything, or tell any story the same way. Since their account of the “Great Air Hose Incident” was identical, it must be taken as gospel.
It seems that one day while Mr. Winsoffer was minding the gas pumps, two ladies, from regions unknown, stopped for a fill-up. They were driving a shiny new car and very well dressed. After their car was gassed, the oil checked, and the windshield cleaned, (remember this story takes place in the early 60’s), they demonstrated how unfamiliar they were with Troy Mills, and asked to use the restroom.
Because this was an unheard of request in Troy, and as I have said the senior Mr. Winsoffer was nearly deaf, he asked them to repeat themselves. Both women shouted, “Restroom!” The story goes that the old gentleman thought they were asking for a whisk-broom. Anyway, in his most courteous manner he told the ladies, “We don’t have one, but if you pull up over there, I’ll blow it out with the air hose.”
Now I don’t know how long it took the women to start laughing, but I bet they had a tough trip the six miles to the town of Walker. That would have been where they could have found the nearest restrooms they had sought in Troy, where all they had been offered was a replacement for a whisk-broom.