Tending the fire reminds me of my childhood - where we had an open fire in the lounge room of our house in suburban Adelaide. Each afternoon in winter, my mother (and as we got older, my sister and I would 'help' or do it ourselves) would get some newspaper, some kindling (small pieces of dry timber that would easily light and get the fire going), and then when it was well alight we would put the larger pieces of wood on.
I remember watching (or more likely listening to) my father chopping large pieces of wood into smaller pieces so that they were easy to carry or would fit better into the fireplace. I remember him making kindling, sometimes out of old fruit or vegetable boxes as the fruit was delivered in wooden boxes to the local store. There was no styrene foam or indeed cardboard boxes.
My mother did not drive a car, and she would walk to the local store and if the order was big, the grocer would deliver them later, and we would sometimes get to keep the box.
Just thinking about it brings back other memories too. I remember we didn't have refrigerators - we had an 'ice chest' and the ice man would deliver huge blocks of ice, which he carried in special big tongs as he ran from his vehicle to the house and put it in the top of the ice chest.
The milk man delivered milk - he had a horse and cart and my mother would put out a billy can, and he'd empty our supply into the billy can, and we'd run it inside the house and into the ice chest to keep it cool and fresh. I remember when the milk would have a layer of cream on the top and mum would scoop it off to use in cooking. I remember her boiling milk and watching the 'skin' settle on the cooling milk.
The baker also delivered bread - plain high top loaves. We had to slice it ourselves with a big knife.
My father was building our house with the help of friends and family and we moved in some time in 1948. We had an indoor toilet - which was considered quite 'modern' for the time. The house we had been living in, with my grandparents, aunt and uncle and cousins had an outdoor toilet, and we had 'potties' under the bed to use if we needed to 'go' at night. Mum would have to empty the contents in the morning, and clean the potties and put them under the bed ready for the next night.
The house had two bedrooms - my parents' room and the bedroom I shared with my sister. It was many years later, when I was in my mid teens that I had a room to myself.
When the area had telephones, we had a shared line. Someone nearby had the same line, and we had to take it in turns to use the phone.
My father worked at my uncle's building firm, and he used to ride his bicycle to work, and later he had a small utility.
I had started school before we moved into the house in the suburb which was called Ballara Park, but now I think is called Warradale or Oaklands Park. I had attended a little school at the back of St Jude's Church on Brighton Road, just next door to the Brighton Primary School. I think I started at the latter when I was five years old. Of course my mother did not have a car to take me to school, and she had my baby sister to care for, so I walked, usually with some of the other children who lived nearby and went to the same school. I remember one of them - Roger Lawrence. I remember him because one day a big spider landed on the front of my school uniform as we were coming home from school, and when I screamed he scooped the spider off me.
The distance from our home to school was around 2 kms, mostly along unmade roads and through bushland. I wonder if parents in 2010 would let their children, at age 5 or 6, to walk so far to school alone?