Childhood Memories – For my Sisters

Terri wrote a marvellous post recently about her childhood so please check it out if you haven’t already done so.  She had been tagged by Trisha from Rolling who responded to my comment by tagging me as well.  At least I think she did.

So I thought I’d respond by telling you a little more about where and, almost as importantly, when I grew up.  I was a child of the 60’s but relate more with the 70’s.  Australia was the lucky country and in 1958 when I was 18 months old and my new sister only a few weeks, Mum and Dad took the big step of moving from the northern suburbs of Melbourne with their bluestone gutters and crowded houses out to the new orchard subdivisions in the east.

It was a major decision because their brothers and sisters had tended to stay close to home, but land was cheap out in the sticks and the estates were sprining up with new strip shopping centres and schools.   We lived at 10 Richardson Street, Box Hill South and I can still remember our first phone number, 283928, and that old black bakelite phone copped a hammering because that was how Mum kept in touch with her family all those miles away.

 There were no made roads or footpaths and in spring the grass grew high in the open drains that ran alongside the roads.    Dad used to poor a few gallons of petrol into the drains each weekend then throw in a match and we’d watch the fire run along the water surface.  He used to tell me it was to get rid of the rats, and they certainly did run as the flames burnt the grass, but I think the real reason was because he was a bit of a pyromaniac.

The first photo is of me and my oldest sister Karen with our dog Noddy.   She died when she was around 8 or 9 years old after being poisoned.  In those days dogs were allowed to roam free in the neighbourhood and she lived most of her life under our house,  I still remember how she used to do laps of the house when we got home after being out because she was so excited to see us.

We had an outside toilet and the nightcart man would come once a week to take the full pan away and leave an empty one.  It stunk of crap and phenyl but was normal across the estate until the sewerage was connected in the early 60’s .   The pile of dirt we are standing on was from the ditch that the sewerage pipes were laid in and it was a wonderful day when the potty no longer needed to be used at night time and when the blowflies didn’t muster around your bum when you sat down for a crap.  It also meant an end to worrying about red back spiders which were known to nest under toilet seats.

It was a modest house but it was home and I had my own bedroom complete with vintage car wallpaper and a map of the world on the wall.  My bed lay beneath the window and I used to lie in there in the morning and watch the dust motes dance on air.

We had a hills hoist in the backyard that we hung from and swung each other around in circles.   One Christmas we got a pool and Dad never quite found the right spot for it, at various times it lived in the front and back yards and summers were spent making whirlpools and floating on our backs around in circles.  That was when we weren’t sunbaking on the footpaths when they were made and the roads sealed in the mid 60’s.   Summers seemed longer and hotter back then and they were marked by Dad’s barbecues in the back yard with charcoaled snags [sausages] and the best chips you’ve ever tasted covered in salt.

That backyard had visits from cowboys and indians and superheroes, Robin Hood and his merry men, and the small bushes in the front yard became an obstacle course for make believe horses and a parade of bikes and other wheeled toys like the go-kart my Godfather gave me one year.

And there were the smells – the fermenting apples that fell from the trees in the front yard in summer, Mum’s Sunday roast dinners and Dad’s BBQ’s, my Nana’s scones, the petrichor of summer rain, and the smell of fresh cut grass, all evoke wonderful memories for me.

At night time I could hear the trains on the Box Hill line in the distance and the steam from the Bowater Scott paper factory not far away.  In the early hours of the morning I often heard the clip clop of the milkmans horse as it trotted down the road, the milkman grabbing pint bottles from the cart and collecting the emptys left out in the milk boxes in the front of each yard.   The postman came twice each day and blew his whistle when he put something in the letterbox.   There were the songs of crickets in summer and the laughter of kookaburras and warbles of Magpies. 

I will write more because there  is way too much to put in this simple snapshot.


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