by Lisa Tome
Four years ago, Chris Brown called his father and asked for his help building a deer stand.
The actuality was that Chris Brown was building his version of a tribute to local history as a surprise for his dad, Bernie.
Rising Sun's newest police officer Elijah Thompson had the chance to appreciate Brown's work - a wooden outhouse.
Chris Brown loaded his creation onto a trailer and trucked it to Center Square the day before Halloween. "I thought (Officer Stephen) McKinney was putting me on. I said 'you're kidding me. An outhouse in the middle of town," said Officer Thompson. "This is a lot like the outhouse at my grandparents' in Vidalia, Georgia. This is so cool."
Although Officer Thompson was new to the tradition, those who have been around awhile know that an outhouse in the center of Rising Sun just in time for Halloween is a rich tradition. Chris Brown grew up hearing stories about the mischief night antics from his dad. That's why Chris decided to revive the tradition and surprise Bernie with the outhouse. "He (dad) didn't put me up to it. I put him up to it. It cost me $100 to make it and as long as I stay out of jail, it's fine," laughed Chris.
In the last four years, bringing the outhouse to town on October 30, is a family affair. Bernie and Kathy Brown, along with Chris' wife Madeline and children Owen, 3, and Abigail, eight months, all join in. Last week, they placed the outhouse in front of town hall and kept in there for about an hour. People drove by, yelled, laughed, and a few took photos.
"They used to put it (the outhouse) right under the red light. And they would hang an effigy of a town officer. People would go out and take real outhouses from farms. When Jim Richardson was a town cop, it really annoyed him. But it's always been in good fun," Bernie Brown said. "We did a lot of it just to aggravate the town police. It started in good fun but then it got crazy."
He remembers when mischief night in Rising Sun required police from throughout the area to come to town in an attempt to control crowds of people who set off fire works, and caused mischief and sometimes, destruction. Brown remembers when state troopers and police cadets were stationed on top of Main Street buildings in an attempt to control the crowd.
"There were a lot of eggings back them. If you got egged it was 30 eggs at a time," he said.
Now, most of that is a memory.
"The older people get a big grin because they know," said Bernie. "We get a lot of stares and looks."
Chris has plans. He's going to keep the tradition alive. But he's also going to build a lighter weight model. His wife said he shouldn't. "This one gets more authentic looking every year," Madeline Brown said. Chris also stores the outhouse in his yard. Due to mud, he got stuck trying to haul it out this year.
The family also learned about the history of the outhouse tradition. It started in 1946. "We don't do anything crazy. We just come here and wave at people," Bernie Brown said. "Mischief night used to be fun here. Halloween was for the kids and mischief night was for the adults. "This makes me proud.” He also commended Poncho Tome, who also brought outhouses to town in recent years, attempting to keep the tradition alive. "He (Chris) surprised me with the idea. He said he was building a deer stand and I got there and it was an outhouse," laughed Brown