Friday, February 12, 2010


It's frightful but I promise not to put up anymore until I read the instructions for the scanner, which I've had for 4 years and not opened the instruction book or taken the virtual tour. It's on my list to do.

But this belongs to one of those great bonding moments of family life. The final farewell to the outdoor dunny. The sewerage pipes had already gone through along the fence which is why the OD looks a bit respectable in 1967. We were the last in the street to be connected and we didn't have much choice since they threatened to sue us. I don't know where Dad got the money from but he got it.

If we get into the Wayback Machine for 15 years, the picture would look a lot different. No houses behind the fence and in front of the fence 3 huge willow trees trying valiently to soak up drainage water from every other house in the street, ours being the lowland. The race horse lived here for a time. Never a need for laxettes when a huge horse decides to open the door and say hello. There was a fence right alongside the OD to keep him in, insert horse laugh here, the beast would simply lie down and roll under it and one night managed to jump the front fence, the only hurdle he ever went over and trotted back to his former stable.

Back to the OD. Spiders on the rafters, under the seat fighting with earwigs, snails walking under the door. A log of wood by the seat, bang three times to drop the wildlife to the ground and hope you were finished by the time they made it back home. That path in front in 1967, was made of bricks dug firmly in, back in the days it was wooden blocks which floated all over the yard whenever we had a storm. Don't forget this was a quarter acre block and the OD was way down the yard. It amazes me now that father would lock up the house to keep us safe but let us walk to this hell hole in the pitch black while he went back to bed.

Now the little fence at the front usually had some vine growing to hide the door as the neighbourhood grew around us. There was another fence at the side to hide it from the house and it was as high as possible. Mum would grow green beans or sweet peas in order to gentrify the fibro sheeting. It's almost impossible to see but high up on the left hand corner is a patch over the fibro. Sister was a gymnast and the only flat beam to practise on was the top of this fence and we're talking some 6 or more feet off the ground but every afternoon she'd be up there balancing and jumping. This was fine except for the day she slipped and one foot went through the wall and one foot stayed on the fence. My father standing there, with hands in pockets and smile on face said, "That was a good move. How do you get down?". We boarded the hole up since too much moonlight coming in at night had a tendency to show up the spiders.
This was always a dilemma, go in blind and trust or strike a match to see where they were and how many.

Then there was the dunnyman or maybe he deserves capitals, DunnyMan. Many a time we would be standing at the bus stop waiting for the school bus only to see bus and noxious cart come round the corner together and race neck and neck to our stop. The prayers we prayed that the bus would get to us first. Even worse was having one late and the other early and the whole bus would watch with interest as DM, flat hat and spills would trot out with the can.

Let us not forget the creeping out at midnight during holidays so father could dig a hole behind the OD and empty the can before any embarrassing bum contact with contents happened. He got round this by meeting the DM at the pub and exchanging notes ensured a double visit during holidays.

So comes the great day when we are to be connected. We should have had a red ribbon to be cut. Father says there's not enough room in the bathroom and that's opposite the front door so in his own 'Castle' moment, he decides to build a toilet room on the side of the house. Concrete patio, a roof to the door, two windows, a hand basin, full length mirror, carpet, wallpaper and a porcelain throne with a flip up seat. He stopped Mum from going over the top with a small chandelier but gave in after two cheap plastic light covers melted and fell on his head. A pretty glass one went up.
We supervised every inch of the building. We'd gather round the door each night to see how much longer we'd have to wait. The trek down the back became longer and I was sure I'd die of spider bite before entering the holy of holies. As the last curtain went up and the seat came down, Buckingham Palace couldn't have compared with our new toilet, that is toilet, dunny was never to be heard again.


Andrew said...

I just thought you were being artistic with your scans. Great tale of outdoor suburban dunnys. My grandparent's was only connected to the sewer in perhaps mid sixties, but at least their house had an indoor one ready to go. I had forgotten about the 'extra', be it holidays or visitors.

Elisabeth said...

What a wondrful story, Jahteh.

It's amazing how much we take for granted these days. I walk along the lane ways behind the houses in our streets and think of the Dunny Man. These lanes were included for him.

JahTeh said...

Andrew, we were just scraping through with money but I suppose Dad borrowed it or had a win at the races. He wanted a palace and got one.

Elisabeth, it was a frightful job. I remember Dad paying out in beer after the poor man stepped in a hole the dog had dug near the side gate and he wasn't going in with the empty can. Never mind the sister standing behind the OD saying she had a box of matches and would everything explode if she threw a lighted one in.
No wonder the older population has bowell problems.

R.H. said...

I did my best thinking in the outside dunny. It was wonderful, all self-contained, and yesterday's newspaper for the bits you hadn't read. They're building big houses in the outer suburbs now with rooms called parent's retreat, they had one long before that.

Fen said...

i used to do scans like that, i forget what i changed to make the photos come out normal again. It was something pretty simple from memory. :)

Kath Lockett said...

GREAT reminiscence JahTeh!

We never had an outdoor dunny but being a country gal growing up meant that a lot of functions were held in tiny church halls and their dunnies were outside.

I remember a double wooden seat with two holes in it and the inviting buzz of blowflies hovering over the stench in a cloud... No wonder I used to wet my pants before we drove home!

River said...

We had one of those OD's too, I was never afraid of the dark, but still, none of us was allowed to go their after dark. We had a chamber pot under the bed instead. I tried like hell never to have to use it. Eventually my dad built a whole bathroom into one end of the back porch, complete with pink tub, basin and toilet, and pipe to the septic tank which he dug the hole for and installed himself.

JahTeh said...

Rh, a peaceful place for thinking so who was the idiot who invented the singing toilet roll holder?

Fen, if I have to do it, it had better be simple. My nephew handed me a brochure of CPU and assorted computer stuff and expected me to know what was straight away. That's what cute salesboys are for.

Kath, I would hold on until I nearly exploded if I had to go somewhere like that especially since the door never had a lock. It's scarred me for life, I still can't go at a party unless someone stands outside the door for me.

River, wasn't the beauty of it overwhelming. The clean shiny bits and a tub to soak in, luxury. I think that buried in my backyard there is still the empty septic tank we filled with rubbish which was cheaper than taking the whole thing out.

BwcaBrownie said...

In Aisle 39 at the quickie mart I choose from the 185 different kinds of bathroom tissue with all the discernment needed for a fine wine purchase. 3-ply or nothing, why?
Thank YOU Victorian Education Department.

Fen said...

I'll drag my scanner out next time i'm at home and see... what sort of scanner do you use?

R.H. said...

My old man took me out on his bike sometimes. One day he stopped outside Prahran public toilets and went inside. I thought he was going for a leak, but he entered a cubicle, stood on the seat, reached up to the cistern and took out the float. We must have needed one at home.

R.H. said...

(Lady Bump)

Life is a coffee scroll
Iced or plain
Whichever you choose
There'll be weight gain.
Love is a coconut
A macaroon
Sugary stars
Boston bun moon.

So take a seat
It's time to eat
No love entices
Like vanilla slices.

Nor (to be fair)
Like a chocolate eclair.


R.H. said...

A poet is never poor, and though he seem half-starved, inside he is surfeited. Love is fattening.

Jayne said...

Loved the story, J.
Not so oddly house hunting in Bendigo and surrounds in the early 90's the ex and I only found one house with an inside toilet after 12 months of looking!
Progressing s l o w l y up thataway :P

JahTeh said...

Fen, it's a Canonlide and as you can see I do not have trouble with colour scanning just the black and white.

Bwca, you actually used the toilets at school? I would have to be full to the eyeballs before going in there. We had shiny slippery paper and it slipped many a time. Chain handle flushers too, deadly if you were a short kid.

Robbert, why do I get the feeling that your dad might have been after the copper? I'm sure they were made of copper and it fetched a quid or two.

Robbert, Poet Laureate of blogdom.
You're getting to know me far too well. Boston bun with inch high icing and coconut, coffee scroll with fruit, macaroons crumbled into chocolate icecream, vanilla slice with passionfruit icing and a giant chocolate eclair with whipped cream. Damn, I think the wheels just fell off my chair.

Jayne, more nasties up there than spiders, snakes looking for a cool spot for a start. My hillbilly side of the family tree, had two dunnies, everyday use and one for visitors only. Now that's class.

R.H. said...

Robbert, Poet Laureate of blogdom requires a capital B.

Robbert, Poet Laureate of Blogdom!!!


Thanks very much.


Fen said...

cool, that's the same as mine. Ok let's have a wee look...

Do you use the canoscan toolbox when you scan?
If so select scan mode: black & white
image quality at least 200dpi and save as a jpeg if you can.
You could also try it in greyscale.

If you don't have the toolbox you can d/l it for free from here:

JahTeh said...

Robbert, I stand corrected.

Fen, use the toolbox, select black and white, tried all the dpi's but it doesn't come up as Jpeg only bitmap or iff. Also tried greyscale.
Colour I have no problem with.

Middle Child said...

We had an outdoors dunny which was serviced by the "Sanitary Man" till I had left home as an adult...what a treat this story is...many memories