Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Homes of my childhood: Waitara

Laurie standing outside the Collins St Tempe house in 2008The first house that Laurie built at Webb Avenue in 1947

During the war, and after their marriage in June 1944, my parents lived with my maternal grandparents in Collins Street, Tempe. This was where they were living when my older brother, Barry, was born. Dad was still in the army and Mum had been packing cigarettes for Craven-A: a job she lost upon her marriage, as was the custom. Me when I was about 1 year old

After his demob on 19th November 1945, Dad purchased a block of land in Webb Avenue Hornsby which was closer to where his own parents lived in Florence Street on the other side of the railway line, having moved there from Liverpool on the outskirts of Sydney in 1931 when Dad was 10. Dad built the first of many houses on this corner block: a stud house with a single sheet of fibro cladding. At the time, he was conducting a fruit'n'veg run through the streets of Wahroonga and Thornleigh from the back of a converted Bedford van.

After being delivered at Nurse Towles' house in Hunter Street Hornsby, my parents took me back to the second place they ever owned - and into which they moved not long before I was born - which was opposite the football ground in Waitara just down from the station. It was a shop with attached house. We lived in the house at the rear and Dad rented the shop to whomever could pay cash on a weekly basis. We lived there until close to the end of 1949 when Mum was expecting my younger brother, Ross.

Dad had managed to convince his older brother, Gordon, to buy the shop and house from him for a tidy profit. By this time, Gordon had one child with another on the way (and two more to come down the track). Gordon was attracted by the small parcel of land at the rear and the alleyway on the southern side of the house which was a perfect aspect for the propagation of orchids. So Dad - ever the wheeler-dealer - moved to his third house since the war which was no mean feat - a dyslexic bean-pole who left school at 14.

The shop in Waitara Avenue which was the first house I ever lived in (2008)The old shop is still standing and valiantly tries to sell antiques (2008)


altadenahiker said...

Your story is moving, and bleak. Should I even say that? I wonder, are there carefree days back there for you as well? I saw it, a bit, on horseback.

Julie said...

You are welcome to say that: if that is how it appears to you. y'knowthis post, to me, was not bleak: it was just "tell the facts and only the facts".

What if I responded by saying that the days on the farm were the best days of my life: not totally accurate. What if I responded by saying that the days on the farm formed the period that has the most lasting impact upon my character and my thinking.

I valued growing up on a farm and I think that all children should grow up in the country until their character is shaped: a bit like the Jesuitical "give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man".

david mcmahon said...

There are many moods to this story, Julie. G'day from Melbourne.

Julie said...

Really!? Many moods? I don't see that - but obviously readers do. As I sort of said to Karen, this is just straight writing: fact, fact, fact. I get into strife "in real life" for not getting undertones. Thanks for commenting, David. I first read your blog when I was a regular with SkyWatch. I will go have another read later this evening.