EARLY MEMORIES

Too early to remember, but this is Gerald at around 10 months. Cute dress!

As I mentioned, we lived at 39 Roberts Terrace, on the best placed block of land in the town. It is only a few metres from Flinder’s lookout, built many years later, which overlooks the town in all directions as well as the BHP works and across the top of Spencer Gulf about forty kilometres to Port Pirie.

Just behind our back fence, across a narrow unsealed lane between the fence and a park covered with tussock grass, there was an air-raid siren on the top of the hill, which they tested every night during the war.

The house that Dad started to build on the block in the early nineteenth forties, is still one of the best houses in Whyalla. It was on a large block and my parents had big plans for it. At least Dad did, it was almost impossible to tell what Mum thought anytime, unless you were in strife with her. From the time I could remember Dad had laid the foundations for a large house. It didn’t seem large just because I was little either, I’ve seen the completed house several times since and it is impressive!

 

Dad spent every spare minute shaping the duck-pond stones that he was going to use to build it. Duck-pond stone is really a type of lime-stone and each stone had to be shaped so that it fitted. For one man, it must have been like building the pyramids!

While Dad worked on the house every minute of his spare time, we lived in a shed. It was the size of a single car garage that Dad had converted to three tiny rooms, but we never thought of it as a shed, it was the only home we knew and we rarely visited other people in ‘real’ houses.

There was an outside toilet made of corrugated iron, painted dark green, butting up against Mum’s wash house, also corrugated iron painted dark green. The toilet was a real ‘dunny’ with a can that the night cart took. That’s what a ‘humdinger’ is you know, a shit-cart with bells on. I always say that; every time an outside toilet is mentionedI have to say it. Of course you know they have to ring the bell to give you time to get off before they pull the can out from under your bare bum! The ‘hum’ part is self explanatory. It wasn’t until I was in my late sixtiers that my young brother told me that dad worked on the shit cart rather than be unemployed.

Anyway, Dad never finished the big house, in fact I don’t think he even got much more than the first course of stones laid before we left. I saw it many years later though and it is a very nice big house. I have a vague idea that Dad helped to finish it under contract, but I don’t know how that would have been possible as we had moved to Koppio, about 270 km down th coast toward Port Lincoln, less that three hours drive now but a journey of a long day in those days. If he did eventually build it for someone else it must have hurt him badly. Perhaps he didn’t finish it because he believed it would put him above his station in life. Perhaps we moved because of the infantile paralysis (polio) epidemic.

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