52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History – Home

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.

My first houseThe 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 house on Google Maps 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 The house next door that the strange old lady lived in has been replaced by a castle that looks totally out of place.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.

Our house

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?

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History Week 3 – Cars

Week 3: Cars. What was your first car? Describe the make, model and color, but also any memories you have of the vehicle. You can also expand on this topic and describe the car(s) your parents drove and any childhood memories attached to it.

I’m going to jump straight to family cars. Here is my Mum’s car. She learned to drive after her marriage to my Dad ended and we moved back to Dubbo where her parents were. She bought the car second hand from her father. It was a Valiant, a beige Valiant station wagon. It had a bench seat in the front so we could seat three in the front when necessary. As the eldest of four I sat in the front and the other kids in the back.

Our house

The house I grew up in, with the car next to it.

My first driving lessons were in this car. It was a terrible thing, big and heavy. It had a column shift, coming out of the steering column. I ran it into a tree ( I nearly missed it!) at a very low speed and not a scratch did the car suffer.

This is the only photo I can find that has the car in it that doesn’t show people that may not want to be displayed for all to see in my blog. Some of them are in this picture too, but I’m confident that they’re privacy is secure.

I will save the commentary on the house for a future post which I’m sure will be coming over the next few months.

My grandfather had a small farm in his semi-retirement. He used to take my sister and me out there on Sundays, and we used to ride in the back of the ute. We watched farming stuff going on – sheep being dipped and so on. We got our cat from a litter of kittens on the farm. Here we are disembarking after one of these trips:

Pop's ute

Pop's ute

I don’t know when riding in the back of a ute became illegal. Perhaps it was already illegal by then. We loved it!

Here is my grandfather and his young family in perhaps the mid-1930s. I like to think this was his first car, but I don’t really know.

Grandfather's car

Grandfather's car

Actually I’m only guessing that it’s his car. He’s in the middle and looking proprietorial so I think I’m safe. I can imagine the family piling into the car and chugging off home, with all these other people waving them off.

Any information about what sort of car this is would be very welcome!

A day in my life at the Society of Australian Genealogists

I spent most of the day today at the Society of Australian Genealogists at Richmond Villa in Kent Street Sydney. Here is my day:

10:25 am Arrived a little early, not too early, for a seminar. The seminar was given by Angela Phippen on demolished houses on the Parramatta River (or within view of it). Angela was the previous librarian at SAG and gave an excellent, well-researched talk. As always. She works for Ryde Council now, and we miss her.

11:30 am Morning tea – spoke to Ralph, the archivist, about transport to his house for 6 archive boxes of material that had been donated to SAG but is not really suitable for a genealogy society. Ralph had found a home for it and needed a lift. He lives near me and I had the car so I said yes.

Also saw Alison, IT Committee member and legendary Primary Records Indexing Project Manager, but didn’t get a chance to talk to her. Talked to a couple of members.

12:30 Lunch. Ate the sandwiches I brought from home (unusually well organised today) and watered the poor suffering climbing plants in the sandstone planter boxes on the verandah of Richmond Villa. The poor things are struggling to make the heritage building look authentic.

1:10 pm Loaded Ralph’s boxes into the car. 

1:15 pm Julie the Member Services Officer had been trying to talk to me all morning about a couple of issues, especially:

  1. The description of the seminar I’m going to give on Facebook for family historians so she can put it in the activities list for the next issue of Descent, the Society’s journal
  2. The possibility of a New Zealand Research Group and a member who wants to give a lecture but needs some support.

1:35 pm Afternoon seminar on English and Welsh Probate. I was late. Sorry Jeremy. Wrote a description for my seminar on Facebook for family historians.

2:40 pm Afternoon tea (late). Indulged myself with two chocolate biscuits and typed out my Facebook seminar description for Julie. Discussed various topics with Julie about the education program with Julie. 

3:10 pm or so Tried to unobtrusively sneak back into the seminar room for the rest of Jeremy’s Wills talk. Counted the participants – full house.

3:30 pm Collected Ralph and drove him home. Ralph is a treasure, he pointed out places of historical interest all the way home. Roads surveyed in the early 1809; river crossings; land that used to belong to early landholders; land that used to belong to ancestors of Council members; areas where current staff and Council members live. 

4:10 pm or so Delivered Ralph to his house and got a grand tour. Ralph collects bits of historical metal – tools, convict apparatus, books, kitchenware, antique beads (the beads don’t take up so much room as the other stuff). He is a natural historian. Scraped the car on his driveway.

Today was a rare day in that I didn’t do anything to the computers or visit the research library, which is a few blocks further up Kent Street. Perhaps I’ll describe one of those days another time.