Week 4: Home. Describe the house in which you grew up. Was it big or small? What made it unique? Is it still there today?
I wonder how many of us lived in the same house all through childhood? I didn’t. I lived in four different houses from when I was born until I finished school and left home. I don’t remember one of them; I was too young and we weren’t there long.
The first house that I remember was in Carss Park, in southern Sydney. It was underneath the flight path and I remember planes flying over and scaring my younger sister. It was close enough to the local school that we could walk, and we had to climb up a lane through to the street behind to get there.
I don’t remember much about inside the house, except for the front hall, where I lost the key to my teddy bear in between the floor boards and the front step. I was devastated! I also remember the lounge room with a green sofa. I vaguely remember the doors to the bedrooms but not the rooms themselves. I shared a room with my sister and remember her waking up in the night. The front of the house was a verandah that had been closed in, according to my Dad. I don’t remember it being anything other than the room where my Nanna lived, although she didn’t always live there.
It had a great backyard for young kids to play in, and a patio with crazy paving that we used to roll marbles on. There are lots of photos of us in the backyard, and I’ve just realised that this one, of my Nanna and three of us kids, is back to front. I scanned it from a negative and I couldn’t tell which way it went, but I’m pretty sure there should be a shed in the back corner.
Looking at the house now on Google Maps I can see it has a swimming pool and most of the yard is gone. It seems to be a much bigger house than it was, taking up the full width of the block, although I can see the flat roof of the garage so that must still be there in some form.
My husband and I drove by there a few years ago and the strange rounded front of the house had been built over. Now I can see it on Street View and it looks a bit run down, as do the others in the street. The house next door that the strange old lady lived in has been replaced by a castle that looks totally out of place. The house is only a couple of blocks from the beach on Kogarah Bay so I’m a bit surprised that the areas looks as depressed as it is. Perhaps the houses are too small. Ours must have had only two bedrooms until Dad closed in the front verandah, and who wants a two-bedroom house?
I prefer to remember the house as it was.
When I was six we moved to Dubbo, to the house I showed in the previous post. This is the house I think of as The House I Grew Up In. I still dream about it.
Dubbo is hot in summer and that house was sometimes unbearably hot. The room I shared with my sister was built on after the rest of the house and had a tin roof that made it hotter than the rest of the house. I can remember lying in bed at night with the curtains pushed aside waiting for the slightest breeze to come in the window.
In winter it was cold, and we had a fire, and later a oil heater. It had three bedrooms and one bathroom, smaller than the house I live in now, although the rooms were bigger. My brothers shared one room and my mother had the master bedroom. My brothers’ room had two entrances so you could walk through from the dining room to the bathroom and Mum’s room. Houses are designed differently now and it is rare to walk through a bedroom to get to other parts of the house, but I remember other houses with similar layouts.
It had a large front verandah and a huge back yard that my brothers played cricket in. We had chooks and a succession of dogs, and a cat who lived inside with us. She used to lurk under the armchairs and pounce on my sister and me as we went past in the morning.
The house is still there, also looking a bit run down on Google’s Street View.
The last house I lived in was outside Dubbo. I don’t seem to have any pictures of it that don’t show people who may not want to be displayed here. My Mum bought a farm with her brother. He bred race horses on it, and we lived in the house. I lived there for a grand total of three months. The family moved house in November while I was doing my Higher School Certificate exams, so I stayed at a friend’s place until they were over. I was accepted into the University of Sydney and started in early March, so from then on I had my own place in Sydney and just visited Dubbo on holidays. It was a big farm house with high ceilings, bits built on to the main house, a verandah around one side, and metal kitchen cupboards.
Mum moved back into town a few years later. She bought my friend’s house that I had stayed in while I was doing exams. What are the odds?