Thursday, February 23, 2012


I mentioned that mum wasn't very keen in living in East Perth (back in those days it was one of the rougher suburbs of Perth) and when the opportunity of moving came along there was no hesitation to do so.

Our next home was at 21 Clive Street in West Perth.  The house belonged to a Mrs Annie Laird who was quite elderly and she wanted people to rent her house while she stayed on living in a room or two at the back of the house.  I was only 7 and 8 when we moved there so wasn't aware of what arrangements were made; did mum perhaps cook for Mrs Laird or help care for her?  I can't answer those questions nor do I actually remember the old lady at all.

I had a large bed in a bedroom (also at the back of the house) and am almost sure that it was a feather mattress as it was very soft and I do remember sort of sinking into the middle of the bed.  I do know I enjoyed sleeping in there.

Dad was always good at story telling and from this time I remember he would tell me a story each night when I went to bed and he would sort of make them into serials so a little more of the same adventure was told each night.  By this time he would have been nearly 55 so quite old to have a daughter of 7 or 8 but he was a lovely dad and although strict, always very good with children.

I of course was still attending Vic Square in Goderich Street so I had each morning to catch the tram in Hay Street which either took me to the back gate of the school or I would get off at the corner of Barrack and Murray Streets and walk to the school.  The tram at some stage would turn left (I think down Milligan Street) towards Murray Street and then head east and when it reached Barrack Street it would turn right and then left into Hay Street and head east again.  Quite a complicated route by the sound of it.

I can't remember a lot that happened while we lived in Clive Street other than I experienced a dreadful earache which mum treated by filling an old sock with salt, warming it in the oven and then telling me to hold it against my ear.  It must have worked as after some time I went to sleep and no more earache.  I have always had problems with my left ear so perhaps an aftermath of that awful earache.  I feel the practice would be frowned on these days but mum used to put drops of peroxide in my ears and they used to snap, crackle and pop quite loudly.  I hated her doing it but in those days children did as they were told.

A strange thing I do remember is the fact that I used to dream I could fly.  I had the same dream on several occasions and it was always the same.   I would go out of the front gate of the house, jump into the air and fly several feet about the ground sort of using a breaststroke action as though swimming. I don't think I had begun swimming lessons at that time so not associated with swimming or fear of it.  Just the wonderful ability to fly in my dreams.

Oh yes there is one more thing I do remember.  Dad used to smoke but only a few cigarettes each day and he would have me walk around to a shop in Hay Street to buy him a packet of 10 cigarettes for sixpence.  Thinking back I think they were Capstan cigarettes in a pale blue pack so very mild and cork tipped but no filters in those days.  Obviously a young girl was allowed to buy cigarettes in 1940, no questions asked.

There was something else of significance that happened.  Dad had been presented with the MBE by King George 6 in Buckingham Palace for work he had done during WW1.  Strangely enough I've never found out exactly what the medal was for but his name must have been on records somewhere because he received notification that he was required to assist with defence duties here in Perth.  His job was to guard the gas works in East Perth on certain nights.  He was given a revolver and mum always said she had no idea what dad would do if confronted by someone as she didn't think he had it in him to shoot anyone.  I don't know how long this went on for but it did interfere with dad's Rawleighs business and I think mum did her best to do some of the deliveries for him.  She didn't drive so must have used public transport.  I think with dad sometimes being up all night guarding the gas works (sorry I had to stop there and have a little laugh about it) he then had to sleep during the day.  All in all it worked out OK and dad didn't have to shoot anyone and the Rawleighs business kept on thriving so all was well.

That was our sojourn in West Perth and then we moved to North Perth (twice).

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