My maternal grandmother loved to party. Before she got active in the Mormon Church, her partying included smoking and drinking, and of course, lots of food. My grandma had grown up poor, married a man who had also grown up poor, and then the depression hit – so they were even poorer than before. However, my grandma wasn’t going to let that stop her from having a good time
Grandma used to throw parties that practically the whole town attended. Everyone would bring what they could and they would have a potluck spread that ensured plenty of food for everyone. Grandma would take care of the “punch” – which always contained a good deal of liquor to add to the good time. I remember when I was growing up, my mother had a beautiful crystal punchbowl, complete with crystal cups that hung from hooks on the side of the bowl. My grandmother did not enjoy this luxury and she needed something large enough to hold a lot of punch for the crowd that was expected.
Something else you need to know about my grandma is that she had a wicked sense of humor and loved practical jokes! She decided that it would be fun to put the punch into a chamber pot – because this was back in the day when most people did not have indoor plumbing, and a chamber pot was traditionally kept under the bed to cut down on the number of cold, midnight trips to the privy in the backyard. Of course, grandma went to the local five and dime and purchased a new chamber pot for the occasion and after washing it thoroughly just be safe, she filled it to the brim with her well-spiked punch and placed a cup next to it so that the guests could scoop out what they needed to fill their glass. She also added a little extra to the mix, a brand new, unwrapped Baby Ruth candy bar, which sank to the bottom and could not be seen due to the color of the punch.
The party started and the guests ate, drank, danced, and drank some more. Everyone was having a swell time and thought it was a hoot that grandma was using a chamber pot as a punchbowl. The more they drank, the better time they seemed to have. As the punch level got lower and lower, grandma positioned herself where she had a clear view of the chamber pot.
Now, you’ve seen a Baby Ruth, right? Then you know that it looks just like – well, let’s be delicate – it looks just like what you might find in a chamber pot the morning after a large meal. So, as the punch level got lower and lower, guests had to dip that cup closer to the bottom to scoop up another serving of punch. That cup eventually hit that Baby Ruth bar and nudged it to the top where it broke the surface and then dove to the bottom again. The first person to see it probably dismissed it, thinking that they had just had a bit too much to drink. Finally, that Baby Ruth got a good knock and rocketed to the top – and the party guest who was scooping up punch at the time got a clear view of what grandma had left in the chamber pot – and he didn’t think it was a Baby Ruth candy bar, if you get my drift.
Apparently, all hell broke loose at that point! The party guest immediately vomited, pointed at the chamber pot, and vomited again. Other guests came over to see what was in the chamber pot, and some of them started to vomit as well. Grandma, with her front row seat (but at a safe, splatter free distance) broke out into hysterical laughter. The story goes that the guests, who knew grandma and her sense of humor well, finally figured out that things were not as they seemed – and everyone had a good laugh. Since the guests that were the most drunk were those that spewed, they didn’t remember much the next day and they seemed to take everyone’s word that it was a hilarious prank.
Grandma threw many more parties after that – but none had the notoriety that the Baby Ruth party generated. Of course, her practical jokes continued – but that is another story.