I continue to think about the assignment on “Home” that my students will undoubtedly ask me about in the tutorials this week. Their assignment is due on 25 August. I have a plan of my home – the one my father built – and some other things to show them including a 1952 competition run by the Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW) in 1952. To compete, countrywomen had to write an essay on their home. The article I have gives them some guidelines on what sorts of things to include: does your home have a laundry? Do you have pot plants inside? Do you have a range or do you have gas or electricity? Do you have sanitation?
Our house had an outside toilet with a dunny can that was collected every week by the dunny man. I remember him coming down the drive way carrying an empty can and returning with a full can on his shoulder. In my memory he is smeared with pitch. I felt sorry for him. The can stunk of sewerage and phenol.
I still remember how excited we all were when we finally got our inside loo.
But I loved the outside loo. Its wooden bench seat, warmed by the sun was, at times, the best place to sit and think or look through swap cards. If we ever got the chance we’d open up the latch on the back where the dunny can came out and, with a long bit of stick, we’d tickle the bottom of any unsuspecting person sitting there. Dad used to sit there for ages and one day the dunny man took the can away from underneath him. There is no joy in a modern toilet. It’s just a loo.
I realised that my memories of the outside dunny and the dunny man are no longer common memories. Even my colleagues who had outside loos say they had plumbed outside loos. I am quite excited by this memory that I have of warm wood on my young bottom and the smell of phenol, anguish when I dropped my whole collection of swap cards into the stinking mess, tears of laughter as we tickled bums and the dunny man carrying our waste down the driveway.