Tales and Yarns

An Open Air Bathroom

Author:  Garry Tizzard

My grandfather, Caleb Tizzard, became the postmaster at Salt Pans (now Hillgrade) in the year 1920, as my great grandfather, Thomas Tizzard, aged 80 years, was then too old to row the seven miles to Herring Neck with the mail once a week. It was also too much for him to carry the mail on his back, the eight miles by road. My grandfather was postmaster for fifteen years and in those fifteen years he had experienced a few good and/or bad situations in his travels with the mail. Hence, he acquired a few pretty good stories - here is one of his favourites.

The sun was shining brightly on that beautiful August morning back in 1930, when Annie, a young woman from the small community of Salt Pans, came to my grandfather’s house. She had previously engaged a passage with him to go to Merritt’s Harbour, another community farther down the bay, to visit with relatives there. Grandfather would then continue on to Herring Neck, a little farther along, to deliver the outgoing mail from our area and return with the incoming mail.

During the summer months many people took advantage of this situation and it became a very common occurrence with my grandfather. There was always somebody wanting to go to Merritt’s Harbour or Herring Neck to visit relatives and friends, on business or just for fun. As a result, Grandfather welcomed them along. Most of those who went with him were able to help with the rowing. Grandfather did not have a motor boat at this time so he had to row his punt all the way there and back. He of course would take the larger paddles in the front while the passenger would take the smaller ones back aft.

My father, Aubrey Tizzard, remembered his first trip to Herring Neck in this fashion quite distinctly. He and his neighbour, Gerald Gidge, went just for the fun of it. It was very exciting for two small boys and while in Herring Neck they each had five cents to spend at G. J. Carter’s store. This would have been the highlight of their journey as a nickel back in the 30’s would have been quite a treat.

Getting back to my story now, Annie had made several trips previously with my grandfather and he was glad to have her along again. It was seven o’clock in the morning when the mail was put in the punt and then he and Annie got aboard. The sea was calm that morning, Grandfather was in the front with the longer paddles and Annie was back aft with the smaller ones. They were making good headway and it didn’t seem like it would take too long to row the five miles to Merritt’s Harbour.

All was going well and they had been rowing for about one hour when Annie started getting cramps in her stomach. Now this was a very unfortunate situation for a woman to be in, out there in a small boat, with a man, a nice ways from shore and a terrible urge to go the bathroom. There would have been no problem had it been a man in this type of situation as he would just do his business in the punt’s piggin and throw the contents overboard. There was nothing embarrassing and nothing to worry about. But with a female aboard it was an entirely different situation.

Poor Annie suffered in silence for a little while and as she was rowing with her back to Grandfather, he could not see the awful, agonizing expressions on her face as she tried in vain to quell that terrible urge. When she could stand it not a minute longer she turned and said to my grandfather, and in no uncertain terms, that if they did not get to shore very quickly something drastic would happen very, very soon. Grandfather realized immediately the seriousness of the situation and turned the bow of the boat toward the nearest shore. Rowing with all of his might and with a will that not even the most hardened of men would want to experience here, they were soon on the beach in a little sheltered inlet called Green Cove.

It seemed that even before the boat touched the beach Annie was out, and running for the nearest cluster of trees and bushes. It was there, in that great open air bathroom, out of sight and sound from the boat and Grandfather, that poor Annie let nature took its course. It was the worse case of diarrhea she had ever experienced. It was a little embarrassing for her but Grandfather knew this and acted accordingly. He could see that she was all right so he asked no questions that might embarrass her further. They were soon back in the boat and on their way again.

Annie was let off in Merritt’s Harbour and Grandfather continued on to Herring Neck. He picked her up again the following week but nothing in particular happened on the way back. There is no doubt however, that as they were passing Green Cove, they were both silently thinking of what had happened the previous week. Annie made numerous other trips with Grandfather Tizzard, but she made sure she was never put ashore under any such embarrassing circumstances ever again.

Grandfather learned from this experience that he definitely preferred male passengers over female passengers. But, such as life is, there were times when other women had to go ashore and oftentimes, when there were long dresses and slippery rocks involved, and a rush to get out of sight, there were some embarrassing but generally, fun times. However, back in those good old days, situations like this were the order of the day and people accepted them as they were.


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