Dunnys And Dunny Men
When we shifted into our latest abode, a nearly new dunny was our pride and joy. A real beauty of cement sheet and corrugated iron (and only about 50 yards from the front door). The old dunny was still standing, way down the back, an imposing building of stained weatherboards. It was in good condition, so we used it as a storeroom for garden tools and the like. But the one thing that made it stand out in a crowd was, it was a three seater, fair dinkum! It had a large seat (or hole to be precise), a medium and small. It was the only three seater that I had ever seen. We had people come just to view this magnificent structure and marvel at it.
One drizzly day, Reg and Tony were out somewhere. Mom was knitting in the lounge and I was at a loose end. I decided that I would straighten out a few things that bothered me about the three seater. Mom was a captive audience (so to speak).
'I suppose if you had a three seater dunny and everyone went at the same time, you would have someone to talk to, wouldn't you?' I started.
'I suppose.' Says mom, not really listening.
'But if you only used it one at a time, then you could pick whatever seat you wanted, hey mom?'
'I suppose.' Says mom.
'So if only one person used it at a time, you wouldn't need three pans, would you? You could open the door at the back and change the pan to whichever one you wanted to use. Right mom?'
'Yes," She says.
'If you had three pans, would they be different sizes?' I asked. 'And if they are different sizes, would the dunny man be able to put one into the other, or would he have to carry them one at a time?'
Suddenly, the penny dropped and she looked at me in astonishment.
'By golly, you have got a vivid imagination.' She says, shaking her head.
'Haven't you got anything better to do but annoy me? Get out of here!'
It was good to get that all cleared up. Moms certainly did know everything, didn't they?
The dunny men had a set route and should have been on time every week. But mishaps of one sort or another made them very unreliable. Our dunny man could arrive anywhere 4 AM and 11 AM, so often I got to see this well trained professional at work. The very full to nearly overflowing pans were no trouble at all. He would clip on the leak proof top (that always leaked), then swing the heavy pan onto a shoulder pad, hardly spilling a drop. Well not more than a pint or two would cascade down his shoulders, then trickle on his neck. At one time or another, I was going to be a truck driver when I grew up, then an engine driver or an aeroplane pilot. Lots of things, but I never fancied being a dunny man.
The dunny man certainly was late the morning the truck lost its brakes on the school hill. Some observers of this thrilling event said it moved so quick down the hill that it left all the brown flies behind at the top of the hill (close to one million blowies per truck). But luckily for them, that wonderful aroma wafted up the hill to guide them down. The truck came to an abrupt stop at the bottom, resting on its side. It spilled its load on the footpath, filled the gutters to overflowing and about three inches thick across the main road. So, instead of having a dining car menu, where everything moves about a bit with the movement of the truck, suddenly all was changed to smorgasbord dining. And by the look of it all, it was a great success. The blowies loved it. The dunny man was certainly late that day, but all the children that lived on this side of the hill were early for school about three weeks after it. A deep breath and a good sprint for about three hundred yards also made sure that everyone was fit. The truck went over about 100 yards from the trestle bridge, under which I used to spend many a happy hour after school at the creek. So mom took a bit of convincing that I was not crook; being home so early for that three weeks.
But alas, this was not the end of all my woes. My morning paper round went past this spot, and try as I might (I had the old scooter flat-out like a lizard drinking) I could not shake the smell until I realised some of the goodies had sprayed up under the mudguards. Three weeks of holding your breath is not all that good for a young feller.
One Saturday morning the gossip brigade started to arrive at our house. This was great, for I knew if I hung around the kitchen where they all sat, and was quiet, I might be able to pocket just a few (my share) of the big plate of biscuits. Then the game got started with mom playing the first card.
'Did you hear about Mrs. Clements and the dunny man?'
A chorus of no's and a bit of slurping tea in excitement. Hey, I know Mrs. Clements. I played with her son David at school sometimes.
'Well,' Mom goes on, she's busting to go, but the dunny man hasn't been yet. Sure as eggs you know you could just get settled and he would be there.'
Now a chorus of embarrassed giggles and coughing and more slurping (there would not be one person in the room who was not in that position at one time or another). All faces are going red with the thought of it all.
'Well she can't wait and races to the dunny. She is just settling down and horror of horrors, a banging and crashing at the back of the dunny announces the arrival of the dunny man.'
All the red faces have a strained look in their eyes. All eyes are on mom. I do not know what is going on here. I must have missed something because it doesn’t seem all that exciting. Mom goes on.
'Mrs. Clements thought that if she stays very still for a minute maybe he won't see her but a loud gruff voice says.'
'Hang on missus 'til I change the pan.'
The youngest mom of the group, Mrs. Harris, suddenly says.
'But how did he know it was ....'
All eyes swing to here. I can see here brain box ticking over. Then suddenly she goes bright red like a city traffic light.
Now an embarrassing uneasy silence reigns for a couple of minutes. I look at every red face hoping someone will enlighten me. But no hope. So taking advantage of the lull in proceedings, I made a quick grab at the biscuit plate and headed out the door.
Sitting on the back step eating my biscuits and mulling over it all, I was still at a loss. Reg was way down the back trying out his new slingshot. He was aiming to lob a few rocks on Mrs. Nicholson's roof, about 100 yards away. If anyone would know, Reg would, so I ambled down and told him the story. Reg listened carefully, had a think, and then said in a knowledgeable voice.
'Blowed if I know.'
So next was Tony. But Tony waffled on, not shedding any light on anything in particular. He tried to baffle me with science, so I knew he didn't know.
Well to this day it remains a mystery. Known only to that inner circle of moms and perhaps that sneaky dunny man.