Dunnies and Things

I am thinking of finishing off my Memoir and maybe getting it published.  As I was born back in the 1940's, I have a lot to recall and write.  In fact, I have done most of it, and just need to revisit it and finish it.  I'm not famous, but have had an interesting life.  I was thinking the other day, about my life. The first five years of my life?  Would that be interesting?

When did I start remembering things?  I don't know, but the first house I remember living in was when three families lived in the one house in Woodlands, South Australia.  It was a big house, maybe owned by my grandparents. I don't think it was a rental house.  My grandfather was much older than my grandmother - maybe 20 years and he was an old grumpy man, who did love his grandchildren.  I can only remember him being in his bedroom. He had his own small room, and my grandmother slept elswhere in the house.  I have no memory of the bedrooms of the house.  My Aunt and Uncle also lived there, with their two children, and my parents and I.  My mother was pregnant and my father spent all his spare time building our new house at Oaklands.

I remember meal times, especially the evening meal, with all of us at the table. I can't actually recall that Grandpa was there, but Nanna certainly was.  "Children should be seen and not heard" was a key table rule, and pity help us if we spoke!!  It was post war and food was scarce, as was electricity, and often we ate by candlelight.

My cousins were older, and while I did spend some time with them, I was mostly on my own when they were at school.  

The kitchen was at the back of the house, and we had a wood stove as I recall.

Outside the back door were two wooden buildings. One was the laundry with the copper, where the washing was done.  I don't recall if the three ladies did their family washing at the same time, but in those days, Mondays were washing days, but I have memories of the hot water in the copper, and the dragging of the clothes out of the boiling water with a well worn stick.

Next to the laundry was "the dunny".   The toilet.  Inside the wooden building, probably not unlike the images below.  I know there was a wooden seat with a hole in it, and newspaper to clean one's self.  I know telephone book pages were used, but I don't recall that.  In fact, I don't recall that we had a phone in the house.

My father worked, and so did Uncle Harold (he was a butcher) and the three ladies spent most of the day doing housework, and my grandfather spent most of his time in or on the bed.

There was a little girl who lived next door and we spoke frequently.  I didn't go to her house and she didn't visit our house.  I do recall that after a short illness she died.  She  had contracted polio.

I did go to kindergarten.  My mother used to walk with me as I pedalled my three wheeler bike to Mrs  Sugar's kindergarten, and she would walk home, and later in the day walk back to get me.

One day when she went to collect me, I was not there.  I had run away - in fact, ridden away.  On my three wheeler, I had escaped and taken another route home.  Mum panicked and everyone set out to find me.  Mum found me.  I had ridden another route home and got bogged in a huge puddle of water.  Mum was not happy - for several reasons, my escape and the fact that my bike was bogged in muddy water - probably 6 inches deep.  She had to wade in and push me out.  My grandmother had a weird habit of making my mother force caster oil into my mouth when I was naughty.  The two of them would hold me down and I would fight like hell, spitting and hitting as best I could while they tried to spoon the stuff into me.  This was always punishment as they thought that I was only naughty because I was constipated.  I know that when we moved to our new house it never happened.  Mum didn't have the power to do it on her own, and perhaps she would not have done it at all without her mother's influence.

When I was about four I started to go to a school called Hopetown at Brighton, which was run by two spinster sisters in a hall at the back of the Brighton Church of England (later changed to Anglican).    Mum would take me to the Woodlands Train Station and we would wait for the train to come, and Miss Fleming, (I don't know which one) would help me onto the train where I saw with all the other students and the ones that we collected on the journey to Brighton.  Then we would walk in file along Jetty Road, to Brighton Road to the school.  When school was finished we returned the same way, and Mum would be at the station to meet me.

I don't recall much detail about the school days there, but I do recall one day on the train we were shown a "biro" - for prior to that, we only used lead pencils.  Biro's were not permitted to be used in schools, and few people had them anyway.

My sister was born, and about that time, we moved into the house at Oaklands.  I don't know why, but I no longer went to Hopetown, but started at Brighton Primary School which was right next door.

I had to walk to school, then, which was about 1 km.  I walked with Roger and Janine Lawrence as I recall.  Roger was about my age, and his sister was a year or so younger.

One day as we were walking to or from school, through the bush, as we did, a huge spider found it's way to the front of my school uniform.  They probably heard my scream from miles away!!! Roger grabbed it and threw it in the bush.  I valued his friendship for a long time for "saving my life."