Thursday, May 5, 2011

LIFE IN THE 1950s/1960s ....part 4.

I've told about how we came to be living in the two storey house in Walcott Street and how we had to spend a great deal of time making it suitable for a family to live in and I now try to think back on some of the things that happened while my children were there from 1956 to 1966.

My daughter was one year old when we moved in in mid 1956 and as she was already very mobile it was quite a problem worrying about the stairs. Fortunately she didn't attempt to go up and down when unsupervised so nothing untoward happened. Was she always that obedient? No, but in this case I am so glad she was.

As it was such an old house with no conveniences upstairs at all (the toilet was outside the back door with a partition in front of it so it was sort of private). If you had to 'go' in the night it was quite an ordeal having to go downstairs and outside but there was no other way. Fortunately back then you felt quite safe going into your backyard during the night but I am not so sure I'd want to it today.

I also found the cleaning a bit of a trial as it meant hauling the vacuum cleaner and cleaning materials upstairs and then back downstairs and of course when you did the laundry you had to carry it upstairs to put it away. I often wonder at how popular double storey houses are these days and I am sure they do not all have lifts but of course they have amenities both down and upstairs. It would not be my choice.

There was one occasion that our daughter had what was thought to be German measles and as I didn't want her to be upstairs in bed on her own during the day (I was told to keep her in bed for a few days) it meant her safe cot (which M#1 had built and was able to be taken apart by removing a few large screws) had to be taken downstairs in the morning before he left for work and then collapsed and taken back upstairs of an evening in order to put the little one there to sleep.

Our son was born about 14 months after we moved into this house and he was also quite a good baby so we had few problems with him nor lack of sleep which was fortunate. He was quite thin when he was born but thrived through the next 12 months and by his first birthday he weighed 2 stone (28 lbs) and as he didn't walk until he was nearly 18 months it meant I had to carry him up and down the stairs all the time. I often wonder if some of my back problems have come from living in that house. When he was older he was a worry concerning the stairs and I insisted if we were to stay in that house M#! build doors at the top and bottom of the stairs so the lad couldn't climb over them. I was so thankful when these were finally finished and installed.

For quite a few years the two children shared the same bedroom but as they grew older we felt they needed their own space so we gave up our lovely large bedroom and moved into the smaller one although still quite a good size at 15' x 10'. We had two large wardrobes (also built of course by M#1) so these were placed back to back in the middle of the large bedroom and two folding doors placed diagonally across from the wardrobe to each side of the main door which fortunately was in the middle of that room.

We had an FE Holden sedan which M#! used for work and going away weekend fishing and hunting so I didn't have a car to use. A had a friend who lived just around the corner and she I would walk to the clinic with the little ones and even one day walked nearly into Perth for them to be immunised somewhere in Beaufort Street (I think it was the Salk vaccine against polio but not 100% sure of that). I feel it was one reason we kept reasonably slim and also quite fit as walking, as everyone knows, is a wonderful exercise for young and old if you can do it. I wish I still could.

After the children began attending North Perth Primary School I started to play 10 pin bowling and would walk down to the Rosemount Bowl (which used to be the Rosemount picture theatre when I was younger). It was a game I really enjoyed and I still have several trophies that I won. I met some lovely ladies during those few years and often wonder how they fared in their own lives.

We were fortunate in having a 'corner' shop only a few doors away in York Street and I'd write out a list of groceries I needed and Mr Woods would walk along with the things in a cardboard box and deliver them to my kitchen door. He and his wife were a lovely couple and I was very sad when she developed cancer and had to have a leg removed. In the other direction and only a short distance from the house there was a very good butcher too. You would ask for a cut of meat and he would say "come back in a couple of days and it will have been hanging long enough in the cold room". He wouldn't sell you very fresh meat but said it needed a few days to become tender and I must admit the meat we bught from him was exceptionally good and you can't buy any meat that good today.

I do so miss those small shops where they got to know their customers and what their customers liked and there was always service with a smile. There was also a delicatessen across the road from us on the other side of Walcott Street where we also shopped at times but as Walcott Street became busier it was sometimes a problem crossing the road although of course if we wanted to carch the trolley bus into Perth the road had to be carefully crossed. The trolley bus stop was right outside our side gate and I was always amazed at the collection of discarded tickets that would accumulate each day. People just threw them down as they alighted from te bus!! Today they call it littering!!

I could tell lots of other tales about that house but as they are probably more of interest to me than to other people I think I will leave it at that. It was quite an experience living in that house and I regret that the marriage didn't last but I think we grew apart and I place the blame at nobody's door even though others may do so. It had to end before something bad happened and I took the initiative and ended it quite dramatically and suddenly. If there had been any doubt that I would not have my two children with me I guess I would have had to try and make a go of it but fortunately I didn't have to make that decision.

Incidentally M#!'s uncle was willed that particular house when Grandpa died and it was eventually sold. Some years later more dwellings were built on the property and the original house modernised. It has been on the market several times and I think the last asking price was getting pretty close to one million dollars. I often smile when I think of what that placed looked like the first time we laid eyes on it.

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