BY ROSS FARLEY, BAYSIDE RESIDENT
Brisbane was not sewered until the 1960s, and construction took many years. As a boy, I recall open trenches and workers laying pipes so all the houses of Brisbane could be connected. Backyard toilets became redundant, and every household had to install a flush toilet and connect to the sewerage network. Residents were relieved – they could now be relieved in the comfort of their homes without going out in the rain, cold and dark. Human waste magically disappeared at the press of a button instead of brewing in the can waiting for the dunny man. We could switch on toilet lights instead of carrying torches or worrying about spiders under the seat. Furthermore, nosey neighbours would no longer know how often we go.
Sewerage was a boon for plumbers, drainers and retailers who sold the fittings. My father, Arnold, and his brothers had a hardware shop in Wynnum that sold toilet fittings.
Some years later, a local lady told of her experience purchasing a toilet pedestal from Arnold. She asked for a yellow pedestal. There were dozens of pedestals stretching many metres along a wall and stacked about six high. The only yellow pedestal in the shop was in the bottom row, in the middle of the stack. To access it, Arnold had to remove about half the stock. He removed several pedestals and asked the lady if she would prefer a white pedestal; “They all work the same”. The lady replied that she wanted a yellow one. Arnold huffed and puffed and pulled down some more. He asked, “Would you like a blue one?” “Yellow please!” More huffing and puffing; “Would you like a pink one?” “Yellow please!” More huffing and puffing and at last, Arnold retrieved the yellow pedestal. The lady paid, and as Arnold handed her the yellow pedestal, he said, “Your backside won’t know the difference!”