Monday, October 4, 2021



Yesterday I posted an item about the lost expressions of childhood. It was based on the premise that as society advances, the terminology applicable to obsolete technology and bygone society phenomena stops being used and eventually disappears altogether. I mentioned some from my own experience, including the now defunct terms milkman, breadman and dunny man, the last being the person who replaced and took away the full toilet pans with empty ones.

It is always nice to get feedback, not only to know that people are reading Bytes posts but also to find that there are shared experiences.

So it was when I received an email the next day from Byter Philip C, who I have known personally for many years and who has given me the okay to reprint his email and the attachment sent with it.

Thanks Philip.

Some notes on how my younger days were similar to Philip’s follow at the end.


From Philip:
Hi Otto,

Your olden days comment about the dunny man reminded me, he got an honourable mention a few weeks ago when I did a presentation to my grandson’s 1st class group (all were online at home). The teacher had asked for grandparental volunteers to deliver some examples of verbal history and of course I could not resist.

My daughter-in-law told me later that my presentation went down well with the parents too because most of them had not grown up in Australia.

The actual presentation is attached just in case it provides some ideas for future Bytes.

Philip’s presentation:

Good afternoon class 1S. I am Silas’ grandpa, Mr C (I have deleted identifying names. Otto). I am 70 years old which means I was born in 1951 and I’m here to talk about the olden days.

Where we lived

I grew up in Greenacre which is suburb of Sydney and I have lived in Sydney all my life. My mother and father and brother and sister and I started living in Greenacre when it was mostly paddocks and bushland.

This photo was taken from a plane about 80 years ago and the red dot is where our house was built in 1950. There were not many buildings 80 years ago but later we will see that changed a lot.

My family lived in a shed for about 3 years, while my father built the house in his spare time. He had to learn about carpentry and brick laying and many other skills to build our home. In those days there was no Internet or phones or televisions where he could find out information, so he read books and spoke to people and did a great job.

Hands up if you have a toilet inside your house. When I was little, our toilet was in the backyard and looked like this …

Every few days the “dunny” man came in a truck to replace the big bucket in the toilet, which was called a toilet pan.

(Notice that he has a cigarette in his mouth and no gloves? Otto)

When I was a little older, sewer pipes were laid in the ground and all the houses including ours had a toilet inside.

Some Special Memories

When I was growing up, many of my 18 uncles and aunties and 22 cousins lived close by. We could climb over the back fence and visit Uncle Jim and our 5 cousins or climb diagonally across the fences to visit Auntie Gracie and another 4 cousins from a different family. Next door again were my grandparents.

We used to build and race billycarts down the street since there were not many cars

Speaking of streets … here is an old photo of a street near where I lived. It is called Roberts Road and it had no tar surface and no road markings and no traffic lights and there were only a few cars.

This is a photo of the same place on Roberts Road today. It has 6 lanes and many cars and trucks. I don’t think we could race our billy carts there today.


I went to Chullora Primary School, and this is a photo of my class in 1957, when I was 6 years old. That’s me in the top right with a big white line down my face.

(Compare with my 1957 class photo at the end of this post. Otto)

My teacher was Mrs B. Do you think you will remember Mrs S when you are 70 years old?

We used to walk past a pig farm to go to school and could race paddle pop sticks in the water drains (when it was raining). Yes, we arrived at school wet and yes, our teacher was not pleased.

Two more photos before I go today, boys and girls. Do you remember the old photo of where I lived taken from the plane? This one …

Well, the same area looks like this today using a photo taken from a Google satellite.

Over the past 70 years hundreds of dwellings and many more factories have been built. In 1990 (over 30 years ago) my father’s house was replaced with a new one (which probably has lots of inside toilets).

Thank you for listening so well this afternoon class 1S.

Goodbye boys and girls.


And thank you for your presentation, Philip, no doubt after hearing about the toilet situation, the children were all thoroughly thankful that they had not been living at that time.


Here are some quick reminiscences by me.

We arrived from Holland and settled in Blacktown, my mother, father, 2 brothers and myself.

Blacktown was nearly all bush in those days and we grew up playing in the bush (yes, there were snakes and lizards), swimming and fishing in the creek.

We went everywhere barefoot, except to school or on outings.
Me: “Mum, I stepped on a nail.”
Mum: “Was it rusty?”
Me: “Yes.”
Mum: “Off to the doctor for a tetanus shot.”:

We soon learned to say no, it wasn’t rusty (even if it was), whereupon Mum’s response was “Okay, you know what to do.” Knowing what to do consisted of putting on a bandage with lots of Black Ointment.

I well remember the trip to the dunny at night on wet grass, stepping on snails and slugs, using the light of the moon to do one’s business. The dunnies did not have electric light.

We also lived in a shed whilst a house was later built (it had a blessed inside toilet), using kerosene lamps and water from a single cold outside tap whilst living in the shed.

My brothers and I in De Hague, Holland, before we left for Australia. Me on the left, Hans in the middle and Rudy (Rudolph) on the right.  You have probably gathered they are twins.

1957, Blacktown. Mum (Antoinette), Dad (Otto), Rudy, Hans and myself. That’s me with the fireman helmet on. My mother still dressed us in European style clothing, which we hated. We stood out markedly at school.

As the sign says, First Class, 1957.
That's me in the corner, top left, but not losing my religion.

Primary School sports team photo, me without the guernsey, they had run out.

Doonside High School, Year 4 (today Year 10) class photo, 1967 - me front row, 2nd from left

Stay safe, readers, and remember that despite the lockdown and Covid restrictions, at least the dunny is inside.

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