Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Eyesore No More

Uncle Bern and Aunt Eva Berg

As with many rural families in Southern Alberta in the 1950s, Uncle Bern and Aunt Eva Berg carried on without the benefits of indoor plumbing.
They made do with the little building out back.
Also known as (but not limited to): John, backhouse, outhouse, privy, johnny, two-holer, little house, one-holer, crapper, biffy, can, garden house, outdoor library, reading room, toilet, shanty, white house, rest room, big John, half-moon, outdoor plumbing, dooley, half-moon house, jo, little house behind the big house, Roosevelt, stink house, baggy, bank, bass house, bath with a path, biffy, Big Bertha, boonie, bughouse, Casey Jones, comfort station, corner house, courthouse, cribby, depository, does and bucks, doll house, dollar house, first national bank, going out back, going out to mail a letter, going to see the president, going to take a walk, gooseberry grinders, gramma's house, head, hers and his, hooter, hoover, Jones house, jug, latrine, little brown shack, little house out back, little shack out back, opera house, path house, privy house, queen's throne, roost, sears-roebuck library, shanty house, sheriff, superintendent's office, Uncle john, Uncle Sam's roost, dunny.
And many more too numerous (or PG) to mention.
Back to my story . . .
Also, as with other rural families of . . . (see above) Uncle Bern and Aunt Eva built onto their house and added a (gasp) modern bathroom with (bigger gasp) indoor plumbing.
Their day had come.
No more quick dashes along a frozen path in the middle of the night in the middle of winter. No more Uncle Gordon warming up the car so he could drive as close as possible to the privy and then warm up as soon as possible when the ‘chores were done’.
Paradise.
But now, with installation of the ‘new and improved’, Aunt Eva was determined to get rid of the ‘old and outdated’. And the sooner the better. According to her, it was an eyesore.
Uncle Bern agreed in principle. But turning that agreement into something more proactive took time. After all there was a lot of nostalgic history attached to the little shack. To quote him: “Much important planning had been carried out in silent, undisturbed contemplation in that quiet, dark space over the years.”
But in case you're wondering, Aunt Eva won out.
Apparently her friends are a little more influential than his.
One day, a tornado touched down on their ranch.
Exactly on that little house.
It plucked the little building from the ground and carried it a quarter-mile away—finally dropping it near the canal.
When you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go. 

8 comments:

  1. First, that photo of Aunt and Uncle. Classic. Second, that photo of the outhouse. Classic. Your family: classic!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oops, i commented under Julie o but I am CC!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I can't imagine living in those times, before modern plumbing. Then again, future generations may marvel at how we lived in these!

    ReplyDelete
  4. What a list of alternate phrases. I didn't even know most of them. And your ending - you can't make stuff like that up, can you?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hopefully blogger will allow my comment through this time.
    I am with Aunt Eva. I have endured those edifices and not enjoyed them (with the possible exception of one set on a hillside with a door constructed from a stained glass window).

    ReplyDelete
  6. I had nothing specially against those small houses, as uncle said, they gave you some much needed time alone for thinking - only on hot summer's days with flies they were not so nice.
    I liked the ending very much!

    ReplyDelete
  7. What a perfect way to get rid of the outhouse. I have to add another name "Drop the kids at the pool"

    ReplyDelete

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