1940-1945 (I was 8 - 13) So much happened during those 5 years that I will definitely have to split it up into sections. These were the war years with rationing etc., school changes, health problems so you must forgive me if I wander from place to place. It was, after all, 70 odd years ago and even though my memory is reasonably good there may be blank spots here and there.
1940. It was, I think, at this time mum and dad decided we needed a place to ourselves and they rented a duplex half in Royal Street, East Perth. Not the most desirous neighbourhood but rented properties were quite hard to come by and it was a very comfortable house in a reasonably quiet street. I think it may have been fully furnished as I don't remember us owning any furniture at that time. (The Post Office Directories on line have given me an idea of the years when were lived in various places which has been a big help as having moved many times it sort of becomes a blur).
It was while we were in Royal Street that we acquired our first cat. (We'd had a cat on the farm and I would imagine it would have been given to a neighbout when we had to leave to come to Perth.) Dad, by this time had established a very good Rawleigh's clientele and one of the ladies bred cats. I think they were British blues and one day dad came home with this most gorgeous little grey kitten which mum and I were delighted with. That was great until a couple of days later dad arrived home to say he had to return the kitten and for a few minutes we were broken-hearted. It would seem that our W.A. Governor (James Mitchell) had also been promised a kitten from the same litter but he wanted a male cat which was the one we had at first. Fortunately there was a female kitten we could have so, big sigh of relief, we still had ourselves a beautiful kitten. We named her Molly (I have no idea why) and she grew into a very lovely cat and produced several litters of kittens herself. In those days it was rare to have our cats sterilised. This photo of me with Molly and a batch of her kittens was taken I think when I was about 10 years old:
We only stayed in Royal Street for a few months as mum and dad had found a house to rent in Clive Street, West Perth. The owner, an elderly lady named Mrs Laird, wanted to stay at home so she rented her home, keeping one room for herself. Whether or not mum cooked her meals etc I don't remember but it was a nice house and we stayed there until we found a house at 67 Auckland Street in North Perth, with exactly the same arrangements.
1941-42. The house was owned by a Mrs and Mrs Coombs. He was away in the Air Force and his wife wanted to rent the house with herself retaining a room at the rear of the house. The Post Office directories show us living at that address in 1941-42 and then at 37 Coronation Street (also in North Perth) in 1944-1945. Mr and Mrs Coombs had apparently decided to go their separate ways and therefore the house had to be sold. At that time mum and dad couldn't afford to buy the house but did buy all the furniture which we took with us when we rented 37 Coronation Street.
1943-1945. Coronation Street was almost an extension of Auckland Street so the distance to move was not great but as we had all the furniture to shift it was a full on move. The house in Coronation Street was owned by the lady next door (Mrs Jukes) so this time we actually had a home all to ourselves and a very nice one it was too. Unlike many people who rent houses these days, mum and dad always treated them as their own, kept them neat and tidy with the gardens looked after really well. Dad grew some great vegetables and of course, way back then, such things as DDT to stop pests. Nobody then realised that many of these chemicals could be quite deadly to human and had a long life in the soil.
This is mum and me on the steps of Coronation Street holding Jean's little puppy. I would have been about 12 then:
It was in the early 1940s that we began spending our Christmas and Easter holidays down in Mandurah. There was a lovely old-fashioned guest house called, believe it or not, Mandurah House, and the same people would holiday there each year. It was owned and run by and Mr and Mrs Turner. He was more or less the handyman and yardman while she did the cooking. I remember we had a cooked breakfast consisting of cereal, toast and either bacon, egg and tomatoes or a combination as you wanted it. For hot lunch it was soup followed by either roast lamb, roast beef or corned beef with vegetables and then quite delicious sweets. Tea at night was cold lamb, beef or corned beef with salad. Mrs Turner always did a special Christmas dinner on the big day which was enjoyed by one and all.
It was a large place. Upstairs on the far side were the bedrooms and a small lounge with stairs leading down to the dining room below. On the near side there were two bedrooms at the front and a large lounge room behind that had a piano and even room to dance if one felt so inclined. Of an evening I remember we congregated around the piano and sang popular songs of the day. There was always someone who could play the piano. The middle section is a driveway but for the life of me I can't remember where we parked our cars. As we arrived each year we would congregate on the top verandah (far side) and watch for people that we knew arriving. As it was war time nobody was buying new cars so we recognised each one as it drove into view. I always found that just so exciting, watching and waiting for people to arrive. Some of the families had children and although we only saw each other a couple of times each year we always had fun together when in Mandurah. The town by the way is 48 miles south of Perth and 36 miles from Fremantle. Back then it was a sleepy seaside holiday town but these days it has grown so large and is almost part of our greater metropolitan area (more's the pity, but you can't go back to what was then can you? One of our well known sports commentators, Dennis Cometti, in a book he wrote quoted the words "You can go back to the place, but not the time." How very true that is.)
We used to fish quite a lot when in Mandurah and there was an old chap that would take you out in his boat and provide fishing tackle and bait. His name was Mr Sharman and here he is holding the 'catch of the day' with dad, mum and me looking on admiringly.
I found this picture of the Peel Inlet and old traffic bridge in Mandurah and it is exactly as I remember it years ago. I learned to swim over near where those large trees are (Mandurah House was over there behind those trees) and got all my swimming certificates as well as my bronze lifesaving medal. I loved to swim and when a youngster spent as much time as possible in the water. I did actually pass my silver lifesaving exam as I filled in as a partner to a person going for theirs but I couldn't be awarded the medal as I was only 14 and you had to be 16. I used to kid myself that I had it though. I still have my bronze medallion.
We continued holidaying in Mandurah each Christmas and Easter until I was about 20 years old. There was always lots to do...swimming, fishing, walking and when we were older, dancing. We always travelled down there on Christmas Eve and that is why we never had a Christmas tree or decorations in our house. We just weren't there to enjoy them and it took me many years to become used to doing that in my own home when I was first married.
That seems a good place to take a break while I travel back in time and try to rediscover everything I can about what happened during 1940-45. I think I may have to split it into sections, i.e. war years, school and so on or otherwise it will all be too much in one sitting.
Am I still doing OK or writing too much? Only you can advise me on that point and I'd be so happy if you would do that for me, please.