Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Friday, September 8, 2017

Cleans Like A White Tornado

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But now, with installation off the ‘new and improved’, Aunt Eva was determined to get rid of the ‘old and outdated’.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. 

20 comments:

  1. Love it! Aunt Eva must have been in cahoots with Mother Nature that day! Enjoyed all the biffy names. Can't even name a favorite...so many good ones.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad you enjoyed in, Laurie! We all walked carefully around Aunt Eva after that!

      Delete
  2. Aunt Eva must have her way, one way or another! I always wondered how people didn't get attacked by bears in the middle of the night going to or coming from that "place with a thousand (apparently) names".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Or maybe the bears avoided it like the people wanted to . . .

      Delete
  3. Your primer of outhouse euphemism s is a classic. I lived with an outhouse for four years (don't ask) and I hadn't heard of most of these. We could use someone with power over the weather about now!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I had no idea there were so many euphemisms for an outhouse!! My favourites would have to be First National Bank and Sears-Roebuck library. One not in your list that I HAVE heard, though, is "going to see a man about a horse" ... I always thought it was a bit weird, but not now - not after seeing all the other names :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've heard the 'going to see a man about a horse' euphemism. Many of the others were news to me. And that was only about half of them! Such a common need obviously inspires! ;)

      Delete
  5. I just went back to the title (and the label) and realized what you wrote - hah!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. The first eleven years of my life involved trips to the 'little shack out back'.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I remember having an outhouse when I was very little in Minnesota. As a grown up I would have wanted it gone in hurry too. I guess sometimes tornadoes can be a good thing. :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. I remember outhouses. And shudder.
    One of the best had an old church stained glass window as its door, and the light pouring through was spectacular. Still not a place to linger in summer (or at night).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The view was great. But the ambiance? Not so much . . .

      Delete
  9. Another great story - and love the collection of nicknames! :D

    ReplyDelete
  10. You had "biffy" twice, so I guess that was more popular than the other names. I like solitary confinement myself. How obliging of that tornado to get the work done in a jiffy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Getting rid of the biffy in a jiffy. Genius!

      Delete

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