Saturday, April 16, 2011

LIVE IN THE 1950s Part 3

To make it easier than saying my husband all the time I will call him H#1 as he was after all my first husband (1953-1967).

I had got to where Mum had decided to move into her house and the grandfather of M#1 said we could rent a house of his in Walcott Street in Mount Lawley. We went to check it out and couldn't believe how dingy and dirty it was. It had for many years been rented to an elderly couple who now had to move into a retirement home. I don't think anyone had ever really looked at the place for some time or, if they did, they were not concerned about the state the house was in.

It was a two storey house with two huge rooms upstairs and two the same size downstairs but no real kitchen or bathroom. The closed in back verandah downstairs had been used as a kitchen but there was no sink and the only way of heating water for the bath was by lighting the copper and ladling the water in a bucket into the bath, a somewhat hazardous operation as the water was of course very hot.

The walls were really dirty and I said I would not move in with a one year old child until at least her room was cleaned and painted all over. This we did and tried to clean the rest of the house as much as possible before shifting in.

M#1, being a cabinet maker, built a kitchen cupboard and installed a terazzo (secondhand) sink and made a small kitchen table as well. There was a wood stove but no gas or electric stove to cook on. M#1 eventually bought a very large secondhand gas stove which was a delight to use. In the meantime, being winter when we moved in, I cooked on the wood stove which also warmed the kitchen as well so it was very cosy.

There were two cement wash troughs in the laundry/bathroom and the bottom of one appeared to have algy growing in it. I think the lady who lived there used to strain her vegetables in there and didn't clean it out very well. A good scrub soon did the trick and I had Mum's little Hoover washer still to use so was able to do the laundry OK. I often wondered where the previous tenant washed her dishes etc.

We managed quite well with heating the water for the bath for some time and then M#1 bought an electric element to attach to the shower head and in that way we could have hot showers which was quite a luxury. I used to bath my little girl in the kitchen sink until she was older which also worked very well.

The folks that had lived in the house previously apparently grew lots of onions and they had erected an old metal bed outside the kitchen (this was under what was the upstairs verandah so protected from the elements) and used it to store the onions. It had some sort of linoleum on it as well and when we took it down we found it to be full of cockraches...a real delight. Ugh.

This house had been built before Walcott Street had been laid down and the top storey of the house was actually level with the road so a walkway (bridge) had been built leading to the front door upstairs. Also the council had built a retaining wall (I think with railway sleepers) so the bottom storey of the house was well below road level. There was a grassy bank running down from street level and when the children were older they, and their friends, would have a great time 'surfing' down the grassy bank on some type of skis we had obviously acquired from somewhere.

The garden was run down and M#1 was never a great gardener but we tidied it up and he would borrow his step-father's electric lawn mover. It was about one third of an acre so quite a large block with lots of lawn down one side of the house and across the back. Even if not beautiful the garden was always neat and tidy. I used to grow a large patch of strawberries and would make jam from them which I always felt very proud about. I also grew a few flowers and some Chinese gooseberries came up of their own accord and they were delicious.

We eventually painted the whole house from top to bottom which was quite an achievenent as the walls downstairs were at least 12' high and then there were the walls at top and bottom of the stairs. It all look rather splendid when finished and I made curtains for the windows and we were more than comfortable. Three of the large rooms had corner fireplaces and all were used at one time or another so no other heating was needed.

There is more to tell about this house where I lived for 10 years with M#1 and our two children so will continue this story in a few days time.

1 comment:

  1. It was a great house and we had so much fun in that huge garden. xxx